Jhaqueil Reagan is a man of his word.
“If I say I’m going to be somewhere, I’m going to be there no matter what,” the 18-year-old from Indianapolis told ABCNews.com today.
For Reagan, that “somewhere” is now a full-time job after nearly six months of job searching, thanks to his very literal definition of “no matter what.”
Reagan was spotted by a local restaurant owner last Friday walking 10 miles to a job interview for a cashier position at a local thrift store. When the restaurant owner, Art Bouvier, realized the trek Reagan was willing to make, he hired him on the spot for an entry-level position at his Papa Roux restaurant.
“I have employees who can’t get here to work on time even though they have cars and very comfortable houses,” Bouvier said. “Here’s a kid who planned his morning to walk three hours and 10 miles in the snow just for an interview.”
“If you’ll do that, you’ll definitely show up for work on time so I thought, ‘Yeah, I want you,’” he said.
Bouvier, 43, was laying ice melt outside Friday when Reagan stopped to ask for directions. Instead of asking for bus money when Bouvier told him just how far away he was from his interview destination, Reagan kept walking.
Fifteen minutes later, Bouvier was in his car and spotted Reagan still walking so he called for him to get in and drove Reagan to his job interview. He also got his phone number.
When Bouvier called him later to check on his job interview, Reagan told him the interview went well but the potential employer had another candidate in mind for the position before he had even arrived. With that, Bouvier hired Reagan.
“I’m fairly intolerant of this new generation of entitlement kids, holding out for management positions because they don’t want to flip burgers, so to find this kid who didn’t have any of that, that’s what stood out,” he said.
Reagan started his new position as a “crew member” at Papa Roux on Monday and is already making waves.
“He broke a sweat with me loading a few thousand pounds of groceries for the week and he outlasted me,” Bouvier said. “He got to work on time yesterday and was early today.”
Reagan is staying with friends as he saves money for an apartment of his own, making his daily commute to the restaurant a 50-minute bus ride. Thanks to his new notoriety – Bouvier’s Facebook post about him has received more than 15,000 likes – a Papa Roux customer gave Reagan 13 one-month bus passes to use.
“I was completely surprised,” Reagan said of finding out he had the job. “I was ecstatic, surprised and anxious to start working.”
“Art paid it forward and I’m going to plan on doing the same,” he said. “I’m going to pay it forward.”