At 2 a.m. on Halloween morning, a man in some distressed state threw a rock through the front door of a menswear shop that I own in downtown Salt Lake City. He was in and out of our store within 30 seconds (which proves my theory that men hate to shop).
As I pulled up to our shop in the cold darkness, I was overwhelmed with emotions. Somehow the shattered glass felt like a personal attack — and it saddened me. But as I viewed the video surveillance, I realized this was not an attack. This was done by somebody who happened by our store, found a rock in the planter box on the sidewalk, and hurled it through the door.
I was also struck with another strong emotion in that moment: empathy.
What is this person’s life like so that, at 2 a.m., this was his best option? What has this person been through, from childhood on, that led him to believe that burglarizing our store was a realistic option?
There was an irony in the event. In the shards of glass that were scattered on the floor, you could still read in broken glass the letters “Home of Suited for Good.”
Suited for Good is the program we started in 2016 to help people who are in need. Through the program we have outfitted over 1,300 people in a new suit — at no charge to them to help them better their lives.
We have given suits to homeless men, people who are ex-convicts and hardworking men down on their luck. We have kept the criteria wide so we can do the most good to the people whom it will serve.
As I looked down on the shards of glass, the thought occurred to me, had this man come by at 2 p.m., maybe we could have met. At 2 p.m., I might have been able to see that this was a man who needed a hand up.
We might have been able to talk, face to face and we could have given him a suit — that he didn’t have to take — and he would have given us an opportunity to serve.
Here’s what I think: We are quick to anger and judgment, yet, we are all people trying to do our best. Let’s give people the benefit of the doubt. You never know what the other person is going through, and who knows, maybe in a different part of the day, like 2 p.m., you could see your opponent in a different way and create something meaningful for both involved.
BJ Stringham is president of UWM Men’s Shop.