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In 2001, one company started hiring mostly ex-cons. 14 years later, here's how it's going.

Jamie Paul has seen trouble.

"When you're young, you don't think about the better way, you think about the quick way. And the quick way landed me places I didn't want to be," he said.


Jamie Paul spent more than 10 years in prison. After his release, he found himself in the catch-22 of wanting a legitimate job but unable to get hired. Photo by Jess Blank/Upworthy.

Paul tried earning a living the "quick way." That was after his mother passed away, and he was faced with the burden of supporting his family in Baltimore. But it didn't work. By 2011, Paul had already done three stints in prison — a total of 10 years behind bars.

When he was finally released for the third time, Paul tried hard to go legit. He knew he was a hard worker — a competent worker. Prior to his sentence, he said, he was working and selling drugs at the same time. But like many people with a felony record, he felt trapped — few people would hire him because of his record, which Paul felt was deeply unfair.

"It's not the record that makes the person,” Paul said. "It's the person that makes the person."

But who would give somebody like him another shot? What kind of employer would be willing to trust an ex-con?

In a new series called “Humanity for the Win,” Upworthy visited Second Chance's headquarters with a video camera in November 2015 to find out who was willing to give Paul and dozens of others like him a shot.


Second Chance Inc. is nonprofit deconstruction business in Baltimore. They tear down old houses, save what can be reused, and are employing over 100 people looking for a fresh start after prison in the process.

The work at Second Chance — salvaging old houses — might be the perfect metaphor for the ways the business changes its workers’ lives.

Inside the bright, efficiently run warehouse staffed by dozens of employees getting back on their feet, you’ll find an eclectic collection of every imaginable category of home furnishing, from chandeliers to pianos to a giant, free-standing home bar the size of a gazebo. Working smoothly among the mantelpieces and fixtures, roughly 70% of the workers in Second Chance's deconstruction unit are ex-convicts — and this work is providing a rare path to a new life in this tough part of Baltimore.

“It’s easy to say, ‘They’re lazy, go get a job,’ but go get a job where? Doing what?”
— Ericka Alton

Ericka Alton is a community organizer in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore. She's seen everything in this community — including the direct link between economic pressures, lack of opportunity, and crime here.

"People are selling drugs and participating in illegal activity not by choice, but as a means to survive," Alton said.

Poverty and inequality are major challenges in Baltimore — crime and chronic imprisonment are often the result. But what’s the way out?

While Maryland currently sits atop the list of America's richest states, Baltimore remains one of the country's poorest cities. A 2015 CNN report found that almost a quarter of the city's population lives below the poverty line — and black residents suffer a disproportionate share of economic hardship.

The median household income of whites in Baltimore is nearly double that of black residents. As of 2013, 37% of young black Baltimorean men were unemployed, compared to just 10% of young white men.

That cycle produces increasingly tragic results. Baltimore saw a pronounced spike in homicides in 2015, while violent crime remained virtually flat in most major American cities. It was the deadliest year per capita in Baltimore’s history. According to Alton, many of her current and prospective clients are faced with a stark choice: sell drugs and expose themselves to violence and imprisonment, or remain unemployed.

"It’s easy to say, 'They’re lazy, go get a job,' but go get a job where? Doing what?" Alton said.

There aren’t nearly enough job opportunities available, like the ones offered by Second Chance, to help ex-cons transition into a productive life. Photo by Jess Blank/Upworthy.

Second Chance was the brainchild of Mark Foster, who came up with the idea when he realized how difficult it was to find materials for an old house he was rebuilding. Perhaps, he thought, there was a way to reclaim perfectly good, historically interesting architectural elements — the floors, fireplaces, light fixtures, and furniture that typically get junked when old homes are destroyed — and offer marginalized people a path back to society by hiring them to help scout and collect those materials.

"The biggest stereotype is that because we have been convicted that we can't be trustworthy or dependable workers, which is not true."
— Jamie Paul

The organization accepts donations of individual pieces (and sets) of furniture, as well as old doors, bathroom fixtures, and even vehicles from the general public. Entire houses are also on Second Chance's wish list (and donating one allows the giver to receive a tax deduction instead of a large bill for a teardown service).

When Upworthy met up with the Second Chance crew, a deconstruction team was busy tearing down a house in Arlington, Virginia.

"The good thing about salvage is: It's unique. It's old-school. It's fun. It's things that people tend to just brush off."

That’s what Antonio Johnson, a sales manager at Second Chance, said during our visit.

Among the haul were two toilets, a lamp fixture, an air conditioner, a refrigerator, and a dishwasher. The team ripped up dozens of floorboards and struck an old fireplace mantel, loaded it onto the truck, then shipped it back to the warehouse, where it was put on sale for $175.

Sales manager Antonio Johnson with the fireplace mantel unloaded from the Arlington house. Photo by Jess Blank/Upworthy.

Johnson, like much of Second Chance's workforce, spent time in prison. He started as a warehouse worker and has been promoted several times during his tenure at Second Chance. Johnson’s doing well — but his ability to succeed has been something that people with a record rarely get a chance to prove.

Photo by Francois Nascimbeni/Getty Images.

Jamie Paul, who’s newer to Second Chance, believes his convictions made it harder for him to get hired. According to the data, he's not wrong.

A National Institute of Justice study found that 60-75% of former prisoners were unable to find work within a year of release.

"The biggest stereotype is that because we have been convicted that we can't be trustworthy or dependable workers, which is not true," he said.

But also, former convicts who try to work again after years in prison often find their skills outdated or obsolete.

"Keeping up, especially for people who have been away from technology for perhaps several decades, is really a challenge," said Scott Decker, a foundation professor of criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State University.

A Second Chance deconstruction crew member marks a batch of floorboards with a date and location. Photo by Jess Blank/Upworthy.

Decker has interviewed 600 current and former gang members around the country and found a shocking gap in their skills upon release and the current job market.

"I interviewed a woman in her mid-30s in L.A. who had been in prison for 14 or 15 years," Decker said. "She didn’t know how to use word processing, she’d never sent an email, and she said: 'Mister, how am I supposed to apply for a job? I don’t even know how to use a computer. I have no idea how to do a resume other than to get a typewriter.'"

The catch-22: When former prisoners find themselves jobless, they often go on to commit more crimes.

A 2012 study of former Indiana inmates found that unemployment was one of the three factors that correlated most closely with whether a released felon would re-offend.

A job at Second Chance allows an ex-offender a way out of that cycle.

"It has helped me tremendously — financially, not being stressed, or thinking things that I know I shouldn't do, but I might need to do because I have a wife, a son, a baby on the way," Paul said.

A Second Chance crew unloads salvaged items from the Arlington house. Photo by Jess Blank/Upworthy.

After a 16- to 20-week training that aims to provide those who enter the program with concrete, transferrable skills, prospective employees are guaranteed a job. Some are able to leverage the training into jobs elsewhere, and the rest — along with those who prefer to stay — are hired by the organization.

"We have a guy who talks about just being proud of being able to go home and having his kid see him in his work clothes," said Pete Theodore, one of the permanent Second Chance management staff.

Most deconstruction workers stay with the company for about a year, he said. After that, the hope is that Second Chance employees can use their new skills and certifications to launch new careers.

"In some senses, I feel like a drop in the bucket compared to the need," Theodore said. "But when you look at a real life, and a real person, and a real story of change and hope, it makes it all worth it."

Second Chance is based in Baltimore but hopes to expand to Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia in the coming years. Photo by Jess Blank/Upworthy.

But the path forward is not always simple or straightforward.

A month after Upworthy visited Second Chance, Paul was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault.


"We are accustomed to some setbacks on the road to wholeness — especially given the population we serve," Theodore said.


But Paul remains on the job. Theodore said he was "saddened" by the news, and that Second Chance remains committed to assisting Paul in his career and skill development.

Jaime Paul recently faced a new criminal charge, but the team at Second Chance remains committed to working with him to build a better future. Photo by Jess Blank/Upworthy.

"In the long run, this is just a stepping stone to get you out into this world," Johnson said.


Of all the skills gained at Second Chance, confidence is perhaps the most important.


Although his recent arrest may make the road forward bumpier, Paul still hopes to own and operate his own contracting company one day.


"If you can tear something down,” he said, “you should know how to put it back up,"

Watch the video of Upworthy's visit to Second Chance below:


Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Prisma Photo via Canva/Bianca Marie Arreola via Canva

Women are trying Free People's 'micro shorts' with hilarious commentary


Summer is just around the corner, that means it's time to break out those razors and put on some shorts. That means retailers are starting to advertise their their summer collections to prime people for the newest trends. But there are some trends that may need to be retired before they catch on if you take the reviews of women online.

Free People, a specialty lifestyle brand for bohemian styled fashion, have released a new style of shorts. The internet seems to be slightly confused on if the material they received from the retail brand is supposed to be shorts or something else entirely. They're supposedly shorts, but they're "micro shorts," which are similar to shorts you'd see in the wild.

They have two leg holes, a hole for your body and less material than pants. Checks off all the requirements for a pair of shorts...except, they appear to be about the length of underwear. That's not an exaggeration and to prove that point a couple of women bought some to try on so you don't have to. The videos are not only honest but hilarious.


In one video Nicole Walters, a New York Times best selling author and mom to three girls decided to order the shorts to see how they looked on someone with, "thigh meat." She wears a size 12 and often jokes about being a curvier on the bottom. When she pulled the shorts out, it looked as if she was going to have to perform a magic trick to get them on. They looked to be the size a small child would wear, but they seemed to have gone on easily even though they looked extremely uncomfortable. She looked uncomfortable. The viewers likely looked uncomfortable.

"Oh wow. They're in there and by in there I mean everywhere. There's a lot of thigh meat happening right now in the, this region," Walters says as she gestures at her upper thighs. "There's some thigh meat, um...uh...I feel like they're definitely in some places that I didn't know I had."

Walter's review of the shorts has people in stitches as she jokes about her Christianity falling out of the shorts.

"It’s the Barbie walk for me lol!!! Thank you for your service," one person says.

"The way you warn us that you’re going to turn around almost made me scream with laughter," someone writes.

"I'm just going to go ahead and dial 911 for help bc looks like you may need the jaws of life to come out them shorts...lol!! Your commentary had me dying laughing..lol," another commenter jokes.

In another Free People "micro shorts" try on video, Nicole Story Dent braved the itty bitty shorts to show her audience the summer trend they can look forward to seeing. The first pair of shorts has multiple flaps that appear to be large pockets which inspires Dent to pretend to fly in them before the discomfort sinks in.

"It's kinda giving waitress...if they ever want to make a Waffle House-Hooters hybrid, we have their uniform, she says. "We have been asking for more pockets so they delivered. Speaking of delivered, you could deliver a baby without having to take these shorts off."

Dent guesses that the shorts would be more like "jundies" or "janties" than jorts, the shorthand term for jean shorts. Commenters couldn't stop laughing at her description of the shorts while others provided her with words of wisdom.

"Do NOT drop it low in these jundies, that kind of contact with the club floor is NOT hygienic," someone writes.

"'There is nothing vegan about these. There is absolutely a cat being harmed!' I’m cackling! You really should win something from Free People for this! @freepeople we found your next model," another person jokes.

"This is the kind of content the internet was made for, it’s just so good. However my thighs started getting chafed just watching this," someone laughs.

Surely these shorts were made for someone and they will look fabulous on whoever that person may be. But right now, there are a lot of confused, thoroughly tickled ladies on the internet who know they are not the target audience. If you're brave enough to give these micro shorts a try, go ahead and stock up on some baby powder for all the chaffing.


This article originally appeared on 3.22.24

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Image from YouTube video.

How to become the butt of a joke.


In case you were wondering, don't mess with comedian Steve Hofstetter. The stand-up comic posted a video of himself recently shutting down a heckler who didn't like Hofstetter taking a break from his routine to praise Jessica Mendoza, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Stanford graduate, who last year became the first female to call a professional baseball game.

"Next!" the heckler shouts. At first, Hofstetter is caught off guard but then he tries to give the guy a chance to explain what he found "offensive" about celebrating this historic moment in sports. "You and I can talk later," the anonymous guy says, directly challenging an earlier warning from Hofstetter to not approach comedians after shows.


Once the guy refuses to explain why he's offended, Hofstetter asks him to leave, saying not only is he being a jerk but he's not at least willing to stand up for his own beliefs. Then things get weird. It turns out the heckler is at the show with his family, including his daughters. "You have daughters and I was standing up for women's rights and you were offended by that," Hofstetter says. "I hope the rest of you are going to be okay later."

Unlike some heckler videos that drag on and on, this one is maybe most amazing in the way he gets shut down before he can even really get started. The whole video is funny, inspiring and just a classic example of a comedian taking down a heckler. Like near the end, when Hofstetter addresses a common trope of someone questioning why a male comedian needs to stand up for women's equality.

"As it turns out, I actually have a genetic history of women in my family," he says. "If you want to be a real man then respect the women in your life."


This article originally appeared on 04.26.19

Courtesy of Kisha Rose Woodhouse

Man surprises partner by performing haka alone at her graduation


Graduations can be emotional no matter if it's preschool, high school or college. Something about watching a loved one close one chapter to open a new one just does something to you. But sometimes people have a few more challenges getting across the stage that make it feel even sweeter.

One new mom, Kisha Rose Woodhouse, who goes by @kiisha.rose on TikTok, became pregnant and gave birth while finishing up her college degree. Clearly, determined to finish, Woodhouse walked across the stage at graduation with her baby on her hip. But that wasn't what got people all choked up while seeing her video, it was Woodhouse's partner who stood alone in the auditorium.

The man was visibly filled with pride from Woodhouse's accomplishments when he began doing the Tautoko, also known as the haka. Immediately the auditorium fell silent as the man's words and sharp movements filled the air. Seeing him perform such an emotional dance alone to honor his partner is enough to get just about anyone's eyes to water.


Woodhouse was visibly overcome with emotion when she heard her partner start the traditional Maori dance. While originally the haka was performed as a war dance, it has become a dance performed for major occasions, celebrations and funerals.

"Honestly that moment felt so surreal, it was completely unexpected and the way he expressed himself through his haka really summed up the respect and love we had for each other throughout all the challenges we faced to finally get me up on the stage and earn my diploma. And on that note, our son came with me as he deserved the diploma just as much as I did (he did attend every class while being in my tummy!)," Woodhouse tells Upworthy.

With everything the couple has been through up until that moment, it's no wonder they were both emotional. Their emotions and love can be felt through the video and it seems like just about everyone has something in their eye.

"I will never not cry when I see the haka. I think it's inside us as humans to know that outward display of passion, emotion and strength moves our souls. Imagine releasing that energy in celebration, in mourning or in the face of fear. You would never know what it meant to not face your emotions," one person writes.

"Performing haka alone, for her and their son, ALONE, in front of thousands. This is an existential form of love," another says.

@kiisha.rose One of the greatest moments 👩‍🎓 being able to walk across the stage with son and a surprise tautoko from my love ❤️ #maori #graduation ♬ original sound - kiisha.rose

"Whoa, that haka gave me goose bumps. You could hear a pin drop. Definitely felt the wairua [soul] in that one. Well done mama bear ka pai [good]. Good on you, someone writes, complete with heart emojis.

One commenter had a front row seat, "I was there graduating that day too and this made my eyes water! So beautiful."

It's nearly impossible to watch someone perform the haka without something getting into both of your eyes as you feel their passion move through you. If you've never seen the haka performed, you may want to grab a tissue because this is one of the most beautiful acts of love people get to witness.


This article originally appeared on 3.22.24

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.



His whole TV persona is based on being the world's worst boss.

Ramsay went on Reddit and allowed users to ask him any question they wanted.

So when a fellow cook asked him a sincere, deeply personal question about what to do when you've hit a roadblock in your career, you could probably guess what was coming.

economics, inspiration, mentorship

How do you deal with it Ramsay?

Indeed, I thought the guy was making a terrible mistake pouring his heart out to a chef as notoriously tough as Ramsay:

"My hopes and dreams are nowhere to be found as I scale and portion salmon after salmon, shelling pods after pods of broad beans.
...
Sometimes I look out the tiny window and I can see people walking around the streets, enjoying the sunlight, while I'm here, questioning my dedication to this art as I rotate stock in the cool room, getting frost bitten, but the fear of the chef stops me from stepping outside to warm up.
...
The closest thing to feeling any kind of joy I get is those rare moments when I walk through the dining room near the end of service to get some coffee for everyone, and there will be a few diners left, idly sampling those little petite fours that we've painstakingly ensured are all perfectly round, identical, and just plain delicious. Then, one of them will stop the conversation they're having with their company, look up from their food and say, 'Thank you, chef. This is delicious,' and making the previous 14-hours of sweat and tears kind of worthwhile.

My question is, how did you deal with it? How the fuck did you deal with all the bullshit, Gordon?”

But the way Ramsay responded? Totally amazing. And completely unexpected.

uplifting, chef, labor laws

That’s an amazing question.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Turns out, real-life Gordon Ramsay? He actually can be a really kind, big-hearted dude.

He's sympathetic to the guy. Not just because he's a good person. But because he's been there.

Working in restaurants is a tough, tough business. As of 2012, the average salary for cooks was less than $23,000/year. And those who are just starting out often have to work unglamorous, tedious jobs that no one else wants to do. Ramsay didn't have fancy culinary school training. He rose up through the ranks putting in long hours for low pay in kitchens all over the world. That's why he gets it.

Which brings up another point.

Diet Dieting GIF by Bobbi DeCarlo - Find & Share on GIPHY

diners, food, job security, restaurants

(Does this salad dressing have black pepper in it?? No tip for you!)

Diet Dieting GIF by Bobbi DeCarlo - from GIPHY.

When we go out to eat, we, as a culture, tend to behave ... how should I put this?

Let's go with "not like perfect angels."

Of course, no one likes getting the wrong order. Or waiting a really long time for a meal. Or eating something that doesn't taste the way you expect it to.

But it's important to remember that the people behind the food, like Ramsay's anonymous letter-writer, might be working 14-hour days. Or might be a recent immigrant who speaks limited English, trying to support a family thousands of miles away. And possibly making very little money. And sure, they screw up sometimes. But we all screw up at our jobs sometimes.

Because they, like the rest of us, are human beings.

Which is why saying...

"Thank you, chef. This is delicious."

Could mean everything to someone.


This article originally appeared on 04.22.15

Joy

There are over 30 years between these amazing before-and-after photos.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile."

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Before and after photos separated by 30 years.




Chris Porsz was tired of studying sociology.

As a university student in the 1970s, he found the talk of economics and statistics completely mind-numbing. So instead, he says, he roamed the streets of his hometown of Peterborough, England, with a camera in hand, snapping pictures of the people he met and listening to their stories. To him, it was a far better way to understand the world.

He always looked for the most eccentric people he could find, anyone who stood out from the crowd. Sometimes he'd snap a single picture of that person and walk away. Other times he'd have lengthy conversations with these strangers.


But eventually, life moved on and so did he. He fell out of love with photography. "Those pictures collected dust for 25 years," he says.

Then, a few years ago, Porsz found those 30- to 40-year-old photos and sent them to be printed in his local newspaper.

Peterborough, reunions, Chris Porsz

Chris Porsz and his camera.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

And remarkably, people started recognizing much younger versions of themselves in his shots. "There was this lightbulb moment," he says of the first time someone wrote to him about one of his photos.

Eventually, he became curious about the people he'd photographed all those years ago, and he decided he'd try to find some of them. It wouldn't be easy — the photos were taken a long time ago, and Porsz didn't have names or contact information for many of the people in them.

But he did find some of them, sometimes in extraordinary ways. "Some were absolute million-to-one coincidences," he says.

Like the time he went out on a call (he's a parademic these days) at 3 a.m., and the man he was there to treat recognized him as the photographer who'd snapped his picture all those years ago. On another call, he asked a local shopkeeper if he recognized any of the subjects in the photos. He did.

Once Porsz began posting about the project online — he calls it "Reunions" — it became easier and easier to reconnect with his former subjects.

Many were eager to recreate the old shots as best they could, like Layla Gordon, who Porsz originally photographed drinking milk in 1983.

time, memories, photos

The child version drinking milk.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

milk, history, project

The adult enjoys milk too.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Others groups, like these schoolgirls, had fallen out of touch. "Reunions," fittingly enough, brought them back together.

schoolgirls, pose, soul mate

Schoolgirls pose for a photo.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

best friends, intimate, confidant

The adult versions find time for a group photo.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Porsz says that his subjects, like this wild-haired couple, were strangers to him 30 years ago. Now he considers many of them friends.

punk rock, narrative, archive

Pink colored hair and mohawks.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

record, story, account

The color has moved to the sleeves.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

In all, Porsz has collected over 130 before-and-afters in his new book.

The response to Porsz's work has been more than he ever imagined.

He's personally heard from people all over the world who've been inspired by his project and want to try to recreate it themselves. But beyond that, he just hopes it brings a little warmth and happiness to the people who see it.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile," he says. "Because there is so much sadness in the world."

And while the project is finished for now, don't count out the possibility of "Reunions Part 2" somewhere down the line.

"I'd love to meet these guys in 2046 when I'm 94 years old," Porsz says.


This article originally appeared on 11.30.16