Claim: Penelope Eddy provided a kindness for a homeless man who had helped her many years before.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW
“Good morning,” said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on the
The man slowly looked up.
This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat
was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life.
His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many
others had done before.. “Leave me alone,” he growled.
To his amazement, the woman continued standing.
She was smiling — her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. “Are
you hungry?” she asked.
“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the
president. Now go away.”
The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand
under his arm.
“What are you doing, lady?” the man asked angrily. “I said to leave me
Just then a policeman came up. “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked.
“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get
this man to his feet. Will you help me?”
The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture
around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?”
“See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him
something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.”
“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in
there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let
me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”
“This is a good deal for you, Jack” the officer answered. “Don’t blow
Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got
Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was
the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left
and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived…
The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table. “What’s
going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is all this, is this man in
“This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
“Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that
here is bad for business..”
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now if you’ll
let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, are you
familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?”
“Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their
weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”
“And do you make a godly amount of money providing food at these weekly
“What business is that of yours?”
I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.”
The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.” She
glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join
us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”
“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”
“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”
“Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”
The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, “I’ll get your coffee for you
right away, officer.”
The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place,”
“That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”
She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared
at him intently.. “Jack, do you remember me?”
Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. “I think so — I
mean you do look familiar.”
“I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more
than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very
door, cold and hungry.”
“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a
magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.
“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city
looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my
last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the
streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I
saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something
Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said.. “I was behind the
serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something
to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”
“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef
sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go
over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into
trouble… Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food
in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right.”
“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.
“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started
my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.”
She opened her purse and pulled out a business card.. “When you are finished here,
I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He’s the personnel director of my
company. I’ll go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for
you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the
funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and
get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need
anything, my door is always opened to you.”
There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he
“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank
Jesus. He led me to you.”
Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance
before going their separate ways.
“Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.
“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle
today, something that I will never forget. And thank you for the
She frowned. “I forgot to ask you whether you used cream or sugar. That’s black.”
The officer looked at the steaming cup of coffee in his hand. “Yes, I do take cream and sugar — perhaps more sugar than is good for me.” He patted his ample stomach.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“I don’t need it now,” he replied smiling. “I’ve got the feeling that this coffee you bought me is going to taste as sweet as sugar.”
Origins: We first encountered this tale of a woman named Penelope Eddy repaying a kindness to a homeless man who had once helped her when she was down and out in December 2008. The version circulated on the Internet appears to have been taken verbatim from the 2008 book Reminisces of Happy Times by Robert Wiley, where it appeared under the title “The Lifestyle of a Street Man.” However, since that book is a collection of humorous and inspirational pieces (many of which are known to be fictional) compiled by the author from other sources, it is neither the original source of this tale nor documentation of its literal truthfulness. Beyond that, we don’t yet know where this story originated.
Last updated: 15 May 2013