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Jhaquiel Reagan was hired at Papa Roux restaurant after he was spotted walking through the snow to a job interview. (Photo: Fox 59 Indianapolis screen shot)

Most teens aren't willing to walk 10 miles in the snow for a job interview

When Jhaquiel Reagan was spotted walking almost 10 miles in the snow to a job interview, he said he was just doing what he thought he had to do to get a job.

But restaurant owner Art Bouvier told Dori that Jhaquiel's work ethic was so extraordinary that he decided on the spot to hire him. And since Art posted on Facebook about Jhaquiel's hard work paying off, their story has gone international.

Art, who owns Papa Roux restaurant in Indianapolis, was trying to clear ice after a storm from his restaurant's parking when Jhaquiel stopped to ask him for directions.

Art told him that he should take a bus, since his destination was at least six or seven miles off.

But Art saw Jhaquiel later, still walking, so he stopped to give him a ride.

"We don't even have sidewalks down here. So he was not only shuffling through ice and snow on a busy road," said Art, "but a muddy shoulder on a busy road."

Jhaquiel said he was on his way to a job interview at a Dairy Queen, but that he wouldn't have money for bus fare until he actually got a job. When Art picked him up, he had already been walking three miles and faced at least five more in the cold.

So Art gave him a ride and some money for lunch, as well as his business card. He said that if Jhaquiel was willing to work that hard for a job interview, he wanted him to work in his restaurant.

Dori was stunned by the young man's efforts: Jhaquiel was willing to walk up to 10 miles through the snow for just a job interview.

"Can you imagine?" said Dori. "This kid was walking seven miles in the snow for a minimum wage job."

But Jhaquiel remained modest and denied that his work ethic was anything extraordinary. Other sources in the news reported that Jhaquiel had to drop out of school to support his family when his mother died, but all he would say when asked on our show was that money was tight at home.

"There's a lot of teens out there that are willing to work," he said. "It's just finding a job that's hard."

Right now he's waiting on customers, busing tables, making drinks, and cleaning dishes. In 10 years he hopes he'll be in college, or started on a career.

Now Jhaquiel's story has gone international after Art posted on Facebook about his newest hire. So far, the post has been shared almost 5,000 times and liked almost 18,000 times.

"It's been really crazy," said Jhaquiel, "I've had people walk up to me like, 'Hey you're that kid from on the news.'"

Hundreds of people have also reached out on Facebook with messages of support, and Indiana's transportation authority even chipped in funds for a year's supply of bus passes.

Through the media frenzy, Art said that it's important to keep the focus on the heart of the story: hard work pays off.

"People say 'You're a hero, you're a great humanitarian' - I'm none of those," said Art. "I'm a savvy businessman who saw a great employment prospect, and I hired him."

Read Art's original viral Facebook post:

So while I'm outside putting down massive quantities of ice melt, a young kid walked through the parking lot headed west. He asked me how far it was to 10th and Sherman.

I told him it was quite a way away. At least 6 or 7 miles. I suggested that he would be far better off on the bus then on foot, especially in all this ice and slush. He thanked me and continued on.

He could have asked me for money for a bus. In fact I quite expected him to. He didn't. He just started walking.

15 minutes later, as we were driving down 10th street to head to Strange Brew, we saw him still waking down 10th. He was not yet to Franklin Road.

I told Colleen Roux to pull over, and I called to him to get in. As we were driving, we asked him about his journey.

Jhaquiel was waking from 42nd and Post to an interview at 10th and Sherman. For a potential (but not guaranteed) minimum-wage job. In this weather. Walking, because he couldn't afford the bus. He had actually planned his time well and the interview was still 2 hours away.

We drove him to 10th and Sherman. He was extremely thankful and said so. I got his telephone number and told him to keep his interview, but I would see if there was a way to hire him, so his daily trek to work would be 3 miles instead of 10. I also asked him if he had eaten today, and he said he hadn't. I gave him money for lunch and dropped him at the 10th and Sherman Dairy Queen. I think he was in shock.

So, he doesn't know it yet, but he starts with us on Monday. It's been a while since I've met someone so young with a work ethic like that!

And the next time somebody hands me a sob story about needing money for this or that, because they really want to make their lives better... I hope to be able to introduce them to Jhaquiel. :-)

Jillian Raftery, KIRO Radio Editor
Jillian Raftery is an afternoon editor at KIRO Radio. She loves the neighborly vibe of the Pacific Northwest and spends as much time as possible outdoors.
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