Every day walking to work in New York City you will see the homeless. Some mentally gone, some drunk, some just making a wage begging.

However, I like to think I can see the few times when it’s a wayward puzzle piece. It’s that feeling you get when you know the waiter, the cashier, the janitor is in the wrong place—they are smart, brilliant even. This is my attempt to fix one of those lost pieces.

I pass a homeless man who lives by the Hudson every day on the way to work. He is young, maybe 28, I will call him “The Journeyman Hacker” until I discover his true name.

Before you think this is some weird “fish bowl” experiment, you can just tell when he looks at you that he lost a series of battles.

Step one. Drive.

…this morning, I saw step one. He had found chains and was doing lifts by throwing them over his neck. I suck at empathy but my two-sizes-too-small heart snapped a little seeing this. It was epic drive, here was this homeless guy with chains around his neck fighting to not to give up. It was movie poster worthy. It was drive.

Step two. Patience.

I am going to head over and talk to the guy with a puzzle. You need to know, I am a software engineer working in what is basically a tech bubble, the skill is in high demand.

The idea is simple. Without disrespecting him, I will offer two options:

  1. I will come back tomorrow and give you $100 in cash.
  2. I will come back tomorrow and give you three JavaScript books, (beginner-advanced-expert) and a super cheap basic laptop. I will then come an hour early from work each day—when he feels prepared—and teach him to code.

What do you think he will take? And do you have any other suggestions/gear he would need? Email me if you have an idea, pmcconlogue[at]gmail.com

I will update you Medium readers on what he says after tomorrow.

Step three. Execute.


Patrick McConlogue