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by Leslie Ligon
Years ago, when Colorado was going through hard economic times, I lost my job and it took me six months to find another. My unemployment ran out, I had no income coming in, and I was behind on my rent. Eventually I was evicted from my apartment, and my 7-year-old daughter and I were living in the car with everything we could fit in it.
We sold everything that wasn’t absolutely essential and used that money to buy food. We washed up in gas station bathrooms, and I tried to find well-lighted parking lots to sleep in. Even though it was still fall and hadn’t snowed yet, the nights were very chilly.
I got my daughter to school daily and put in more applications, giving a friend’s phone number for call-backs. I told my friend my phone was disconnected, but not that we were living in the car. (I didn’t tell anyone that we were living in the car, out of embarrassment I guess.) After about two weeks, I found a job.
I went to talk to the friend whose phone I’d been using at the video store where she worked. She told me I looked really tired, had big bags under my eyes, and asked what was going on. I told her the true story, and added that when I received my first paycheck in two weeks, I’d be able to rent an apartment.
I didn’t know that a young man was standing in the next aisle over until I finished my story and he came up to me and placed a key in my hand. He said he had just moved to a bigger apartment and his old one was empty and paid for until the end of the month — three weeks away. He apologized that there was no furniture in the apartment, and said he would call the utility company and tell them to leave the electricity on until the end of the month. He then gave me the address.
By this time I was crying and trying to tell him that when I got back on my feet I would pay him back. He told me not to worry about it; if the apartment was empty and paid for, someone should use it.
I never got that gentleman’s name, and he never got mine. The fact that he trusted me to live there, not knowing if I was the type of person to damage the apartment or not, simply amazed me.
The three weeks that my daughter and I stayed there allowed me to get myself back on track, and I was able to get an apartment when I got paid. I have had a lot of help from various people throughout my life and I have helped as many people as I could in return, but what that young man did for us that day was moving beyond words.
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