Magician Rips Homeless Veteran's Sign. For A Good Reason
What would you do if a random stranger walked up to you, took one of your possessions, and destroyed it right in front of your face? Maybe you'd get angry? Maybe you'd be confused? What if you were homeless and the thing that was destroyed was one of the few meager things you own? Well, that's what happened to a man in Las Vegas, but this story takes a surprising turn, one that changed lives.
The Homeless Man
A homeless man was standing curbside next to a trash can in Las Vegas holding up a sign, quietly minding his own business when a well dressed young man confidently strode up to him and started a conversation with "Hey there, sir, hey there, how are you?"
The First Interaction
The homeless man already had a hint of a smile on his face before the young stranger approached, but his smile widened as he replied to the question with 'Very well'. The day was bright and sunny and the man seemed to be in a good mood, but he had no clue what was in store for him. The words on the sign that the man was holding read "Homeless. Trying to get by. Anything helps. God Bless." The well-worn sign, written on a piece of cardboard with rough edges was one of two the man had in his possession, the other one sitting atop two small bags.
The Second Sign
The other sign was better constructed, a bright white piece of stiff paper with just five letters boldly spelling out a word. It was clear based on the care given to the two signs which one meant more to the man. The word that second sign spelled out? "SMILE".
The young stranger read out the man's sign and said "I saw your sign there, it says anything helps? I wanted to help you out, but I need to see your sign though" and proceeded to grab the sign out of the man's hands. The man hesitantly held the sign out to the young man, but the moment one of his precious signs left his hands, the look on the man's face changed to one of confusion and worry. The stranger tried to reassure the man with the words "This is going to make sense".
The Performance Begins
In a questioning, almost mocking tone, the stranger asked again "Anything helps?" to which the man briefly nodded and let out a gentle "Yea". The stranger replied with "I'm gonna help you out" and reached into his pocket.
He pulled out a marker, casually dropped the cap on the ground, and then started scribbling furiously over the sign. The homeless man stared in confusion and then bent over to pick up the marker cap from where it fell on the floor, but the stranger said "You can leave it".
The younger man proudly displayed the new sign stating "I drew some dollar signs on it, does that help?" The homeless man stared blankly for a few seconds before hesitatingly saying "Not..really". At this point, most people would get angry, but not our homeless hero.
The stranger said "Well it says anything helps, so, how about that?" as he tore the sign in half. "How about that!? Does that help? the stranger reiterated. The homeless man, unsure of what to do or say, used to being picked on by people, slowly and carefully said "Two...halves? I don't think so".
"Well, I'm going by the sign, I saw your sign says, like, anything helps, so I figured that anything...should...help." Unbelievably the stranger was ripping the sign into quarters emphasizing the last few words with big rips.
The Calm Request
People have a lot of negative stereotypes about homeless people and some of them can be true at times, but that doesn't give anyone the right to mess with or mock them. Our homeless man, with a sign that said smile, bent over to pick up the marker cap and didn't get angry, all he asked was "Can I keep the magic marker to make another sign?".
"Uhhh...Maybe" the stranger replied, "yea, I'll give you, I'll give you the magic marker. Sure, Why not? Cause I mean, it says anything helps, so a magic marker should help". The homeless man, polite and respectful despite everything just said "that will help".
The Final Straw
"I figured that this would help though", the man said as he tore the sign in half yet again. "It seems kind of weird to do that right?" he asked the homeless man, who bless him, still didn't get angry, in fact, the next words out of his mouth were almost prophetic.
Rather than believe that this was just some obnoxious young man who was entertaining himself by messing with people in hard times, our hero said "Are you one of those street musicians? You're gonna turn that into a wad of money?" The stranger smiled at the word musicians, repeated "wad of money", then laughed and unfurled a completely intact sign as cash tumbled down from it. "Really? Seriously? Because actually, I have a wad of money for you!"
The young stranger let loose a huge smile as the man delightedly exclaimed "How did you do that!?" to which the stranger said, "How did you know?". Both men with massive grins on their faces took a few seconds to collect themselves. "All that cash is yours man", the young samaritan said as he gestured to the collection of bills on the ground. "Are you serious!?" the older man exclaimed. "Yea, Yea man, that's like (unspecified amount of money)" he continued as he bent down to help collect the cash for the homeless man.
All the man could say was "That's so cool" and "you're so cool" along with a big thank you as the stranger handed him his things saying "The cash, the sign, it's all for you. There you go man". The delighted men shared a handshake as the stranger finally revealed his name.
The Good Samaritan
"I'm Rob," he said as they shook hands, and as Rob walked away he pointed to the man's second sign and said "SMILE" with a laugh. "I'm smiling man", the guy said laughing back. "See you man, have a good day!" and then the video ends.
The Magician and the Homeless Veteran
Yes, this is a YouTube video that went viral back in 2014, way before the current trend of surprising people with "random" acts of kindness was popular. The young stranger is street magician Rob Anderson and the homeless man is U.S. Army veteran Alan McCracken, but the story doesn't end with the video.
The Viral Video
In the comments section, Rob explains that he went back to the homeless man, helped him pick up the rest of the cash, and then chatted for a bit. Over the next 2 weeks, the video received over 2 million views and now, 6 years later it has more than 10 million.
After the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the video and after getting to know Alan McCracken, Rob set up a GoFundMe page for him with the goal of raising $10,000 so that McCracken could start a new life and get back on his feet. The GoFundMe page raised over $40,000 and McCracken being the genuinely nice guy he is said that he couldn't accept all that money and that a part of it should go to other veterans who needed help.
Rob released another heartwarming video with Alan a few weeks later where Alan got to talk about his life story and proved again just how nice he is. Alan used a portion of the money to move to California and start a new life there. Unfortunately, there isn't any news about him online, but we hope that he has a more stable life and that he's still making people smile whatever he's doing.
This video came out 6 years ago and it was made with nothing but kindness. Rob had already made a few videos on his YouTube channel where he helped those in need in magical ways, but there was something special about Alan. His constant politeness, his smile, him bending over to pick up the marker cap convinced Rob to do more. You never know who you will meet, and how they will surprise you, so don't be so judgemental, and try and make people smile.