When you least expect it, life can sometimes take a sudden turn. Life is hard, but luckily, there are still some good people out there for whom making others’ lives better is a goal.
One particular man was blessed to cross paths with one of these selfless characters who helped him out when he least saw it coming.
Woodrow Wilson was in a tough place. Living on the streets of Chicago, he was nervous. A crude winter was approaching and was not prepared. Every day was colder than the last, and he was struggling during the ice-cold nights.
He needed money and he needed it right now.
For the past few years, Wilson’s life had been a hustle. He had been homeless for several years and he was forced to do all kinds of things in order to feed himself. At first, he had the homeless shelters, they made the harsh winters a lot easier. But that was no longer an option for him.
But in the past, things hadn’t always been that bad for Wilson. A situation from his past brought him to where he was now.
During the 80s, Wilson was a US Army veteran, and during that time, he was in Grenada where he saw all kinds of things. He lived through some gruesome and horrible times, but also some good ones. He was grateful for what he had learned about the human condition during this time. But he wished he had learned those things in a different way.
When he returned, he expected that the government would somehow reward him for all of his grief and effort, but he was wrong.
When he returned home, things were anything but easy. Despite trying, he couldn’t find a job, and within a matter of months, he had spent all of his savings.
Shortly after that, he was evicted from his apartment. Everything went downhill from there.
At first, he just barely got by. He could rely on homeless shelters, but he still needed money.
At that time, crime was booming in Chicago and a lot of people were making a profit from the trafficking of illegal substances. He was reluctant, but he began to resort to those activities in order to provide for himself. This was even harder than being in the war, but his misfortunes didn’t end there.
Eventually, he got caught. His lawyers were anything but professional, they were sloppy and careless, and people were catching sentences left and right at that time for that kind of offense.
He was sentenced to jail for seven years and for Wilson, it appeared that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
Once he was released, he gave up on all illegal activities. He had learned his lesson and it was time to move on from crime. But things only got worse from there.
But because of his convictions and reputation, the homeless shelters in the city refused to accept him. From then on, he had nothing. He was entirely homeless now and he had few options left to make a living for himself.
He managed to feed himself with the charity of Chicago passers-by and through another activity: pawning valuable objects from people’s trash. Sometimes these objects would be broken and worth nothing, but other times, he would get a few dollars.
But one day, during the cold winter, he found an old stereo. He took it to a pawnshop in the vicinity, but little did he know that his luck was about to change.
The stereo was working for the most part and the owner of the pawnshop offered him $30 for it. This would get Wilson through a few weeks.
When he asked for his name, to finalize the deal, the owner reacted in a way that he didn’t expect.
“Are you really Woodrow Wilson? God, I’ve been looking for you for years. This is for you, it’s worth $3,000” he said as he gave him a few pieces of paper.
Wilson was bewildered and thought that the pawn shop owner had mistaken him for another person at first. But when he took a look at the papers, he remembered everything.
They were some old savings bonds he had cashed in in that same pawn shop during the 80s, right after he came back from Grenada. At the time, they were $100 each, but inflation had made their worth get higher and higher: now, they were worth $3,000.
But how did the owner of the pawn shop know they were his? He was too young to have been working during the 80s.
The answer is simple: the current owner, a man named Chris Mathis, had taken over the shop in 2003. He had gone through all the old savings bonds people had cashed in in the past and, knowing that their value was higher now, he had been trying to locate all of their owners.
But Wilson had been the hardest one to find for him.
The man seemed impossible to locate. After a while, he hired a private investigator, who found out that Wilson was homeless at that time and living somewhere in the streets of Chicago.
After a while, Mathis was close to giving up on finding Wilson. But he never threw those bonds or cashed them in himself, which says a lot about his character.
He gave the old bonds to Wilson, who immediately started crying tears of joy and thanked Mathis for his kindness and righteousness. That unexpected money would make his life a lot easier.
“Pawn shop owners aren’t generally known for being sentimental people,” Mathis commented to reporters who asked him about the story. But clearly, Mathis was cut from a different cloth.