Want to keep reading?

You've reached the end of your complimentary access. Subscribe for as little as $4/month.

Aready a Subscriber ? Sign In

Tom Green is very spoiled and lazy—until an accident forces him to change his life

Tom Green was very proud to say that he had the best life any human could wish for. He would wake up in his cushiony white bed and then head down his marble staircase, where a delicious breakfast was waiting for him, prepared earlier that morning by his personal chef. If he were to have something involving chocolate, the chocolate would be from Switzerland, where, he believed, the best chocolate came from. If he were to eat something involving berries, the berries would have been freshly picked that morning. Everything had to taste amazing in Tom’s house. If there was ever something that didn’t meet his taste buds’ expectations, it would instantly hit the bottom of his trash can with a small thud, and the chef would be off to prepare a new and better dish.

However, this morning was different. When Tom went downstairs to eat his breakfast, there wasn’t anything there, except for a note. If he were like his other wealthy friends, he wouldn’t have known how to read the note because he and his friends all knew that reading was just a waste of time. There were far more important things to do out in the world, like making people do what he wanted them to do.

But no, he wasn’t like his friends. He knew how to read. The reason for this was because his parents (whom he had banned from his life) had made him go to school when he was young. That being said, it would have been possible for him to get a job earlier because he had an education, but he had forgotten all his math and facts years ago, and the only thing he remembered how to do was read. Now you may be thinking, “If he didn’t do any work, where did he get all of his money?” and here is the answer: he threatened his parents by saying that if they didn’t give him money, he would reveal to the world that they had killed their last servant, but he wouldn’t tell everyone that it was in self-defense.

So every month, they would send him an envelope with huge amounts of money in it (they made their money from their jobs; his mom was a scientist, and his dad was a successful lawyer).

Anyway, back to the note. Tom picked up the note and began to read. Here’s what the note said:

Hello Tom. Right now you’re probably wondering, “Where is my chef?” and, “Where is my breakfast?” And I bet you’re also thinking, “When I find that chef, he is going to be fired!” Well, I hate to break it to you, but there is NO WAY I am going to work for you for free. Now that you’ve read that part of the note, you are probably thinking, “How is that possible?” I will tell you. You know how you let me swipe your card at the ATM? Well, this morning, I went to get my money, but it said, “Tom Green has no money left to spend.” That’s when I started to investigate further. I knew you got all of your money from your parents, so I went to their house to see if I could get some answers from them, but I learned something very shocking when I arrived at the house. I also saw a note that said, “Dear Tom. Your parents are dead.”

At that point, Tom did a small happy dance and then continued reading.

“They died in a fire that also burnt all of their money. I hope that doesn’t affect you at all.” That was all the note said. Sorry Tom, your parents are dead. People are already making plans for what to do with your house. Since they were paying for all of “your” stuff, your things are actually their things, and they said in their will that all of their money and houses will go to your younger sister, Emily. You’ve just lost everything. You have nothing left at all. Nothing at all.

Tom didn’t know what to do. This can’t really be, can it? This can be solved simply. I just have to go see if my parents are still alive. If they are, everything is fine, but if they aren’t . . . well, they can’t be dead! Everything is perfectly fine, and this note from the chef is probably fake, just to get me to work more, he thought to himself. But deep down inside, he knew there was a big chance he had lost everything. In fact, he was so worried about this that he went into his safe to grab all of his remaining fortune that he hadn’t yet spent on luxury items! He grabbed his most prized possessions and stuffed them all in the trunk of his shiny white car. Then he drove off to see the people he was praying were still alive.

He parked his car and prepared himself for whatever he was destined to see. He looked up. It seemed as though his heart had stopped beating. When his eyes met the ground, he could see nothing except for ashes. There must have been a fire, which destroyed his parents’ house, and his parents must have been in it. He realized that this could only mean one thing: if he wanted to stay alive, he would have to get a job.

*          *          *

Tom woke up. He was sleeping in his new home, a small shed he had bought yesterday, the day he’d found out he had lost everything. He hated everything about this shed. It had the smell of rotten food, the bed was rock hard, there was no personal chef, and so worst of all, he would have to cook his own meals. Tom didn’t have that much money left after buying this shed, but it was the only place he could afford, and he wanted to sleep in a home, not a hotel. Since he was running low on money, he would have to start working. He wasn’t sure what his job would be. Maybe he could find a job where he would get paid for doing nothing! But he knew that wouldn’t work.

Since he was running low on money, he would have to start working. He wasn’t sure what his job would be. Maybe he could find a job where he would get paid for doing nothing!

He opened his wooden shack door, which gave out a loud creaking noise, and then walked out, hoping that today he would find an easy job opportunity, but it didn’t seem like he would, especially in his current location.

One year later . . .

Tom had tried millions of jobs but was continually fired. He worked at a fast-food restaurant but blew up the kitchen, as he didn’t know how to cook. Then he tried being a zookeeper, but all the animals escaped when he opened the gates to feed them. And then there was a time when he tried working at a smoothie shop. A guy in a fancy tuxedo and his five-year-old daughter walked in to get smoothies. When Tom tried serving the man his blueberry smoothie, he accidentally tossed it all over his outfit! There had been many failures, but at least he managed to get enough money to buy food.

It was now time for Tom to think of a new job, though, before he ran out of money. He decided he would see if he could be a driver for a ride-share service called Pick-up. After all, he did have a car. When he went for his interview, the Pick-up manager was extremely nice to Tom, which made him feel guilty, for if he had applied for this job a couple of years ago, he would have acted as if the manager were an annoying fly that he couldn’t swat away. The manager seemed to be very fond of Tom, so he let him have the job even though he took a bunch of wrong turns when he was taking the qualification test.

What is about to be said will be as surprising for you as it was for Tom, but he actually began to somewhat enjoy being a Pick-up driver. It was nice talking to other people, which he found himself good at, and he would listen to all their stories. One story changed his life forever.

A man told him about how his friend had died of hunger a few weeks ago because he couldn’t afford to buy food. The man said that in the United States, there were over 550,000 people who are homeless, and that more than half of the people in the US have developed the habit of instantly ignoring them. When Tom heard this, he didn’t know what to say. For his whole life, he had thought of homeless people on the street as just people who didn’t matter. He never really stopped to think that they were people who could do a lot to change the world too, and that they had feelings. Now, he no longer felt that way.

*          *          *

Tom hopped into bed and pulled up the sheets. Every night since he had moved into his shack, he had complained about how his bed felt rock hard and how the pillowcase wasn’t silk. He had only really thought about himself. Maybe this was because he had grown up in a house with no love or attention from his parents. But now he felt different. This time when he put his head down on the pillow, he didn’t complain. Instead of complaining, he reminded himself of how lucky he was to have a place to sleep in, to have money to have food he could eat, and to have access to clean water. He thought it all through and decided he wanted to do something to make sure everyone had a place to sleep and food to eat. He thought of different ways he could help, and then finally thought up a plan.

In the morning, there was no time to eat breakfast. He had to begin his plan. The first step would be presenting his idea to the Pick-up manager. He hopped in his car and drove to the manager’s house.

Knock, knock.

Tom knocked on the door, hoping that the manager was there.

The blue door opened, and he found himself face to face with the manager.

“Ah. Hello, Tom!” said the man, in a warm, friendly voice. “Come in!”

“Good morning, sir,” responded Tom, with a smile on his face.

“Call me Charles,” the man said.

Tom entered the small, but nice, house. He saw a round table with four chairs, and there was also a white couch. The walls and ceiling were all painted in a very light shade of gray, and the floor was made of wood. Charles made a hand gesture for Tom to sit down on the couch. Charles then went and sat beside him.

“So, Tom, what brings you here today?” Charles asked.

“Well, I enjoy being a Pick-up driver because I meet people from all over the world and get to hear their stories. Being a Pick-up driver has completely changed my life, and I believe it could change others’ lives too,” said Tom. “I thought we could make an organization in Pick-up where we train homeless people to be Pick-up drivers; that way, they can make money and have jobs,” Tom went on.

“Tell me more about this plan of yours,” said Charles, with a twinkle of curiosity in his eyes.

“I thought that I could be the head of this organization, and we could hire others to give lessons and instruction.”

“That sounds amazing!”

Two years later . . .

Tom’s Pick-up organization is now called Drive. It has existed for one year and given jobs to 1,681 people. Over the past two years, Tom has had many opportunities to buy a bigger house but has always turned them down because he doesn’t need a big house. He has a bed, a sink, water, and food. Instead of buying a new house for himself, he buys houses for people without homes.

Zahra Batteh
Zahra Batteh, 10
Washington, DC

Rohan Jayakrishnan
Rohan Jayakrishnan, 12
Downingtown, PA