He relied heavily on the element of surprise and used a hidden camera to record reactions.
When Tim Owens, now an award-winning TV director, was laid off from his job three years ago, he wasn’t sure what he should do about money… Although it’s not what you think. While most people that are suddenly fired or laid off immediately begin to worry about looking for a job because they don’t want to fall behind on bills or because they haven’t saved enough to live off of, Tim Owens was not one of these people.
After being laid off, he decided that since he and his family were already so financially comfortable he would instead give the money from his last paycheck away to unsuspecting strangers. So instead of pondering how to go about making money, he was wondering how he should go about giving his away.
Though he could have simply stood on a street corner and handed it out, he wanted the whole affair to add up to much more than that.
“I knew I had to do something crazy. Not because of the theatrics of it, or not because of this self-fulfilling idea. It had to be a big and bold step in a way I would never forget it,” Owens told USA Today. “What if we flipped this and showed people that things aren’t always what they seem?”
That’s why he decided to dress up in ragged clothing and stand on the median in the street, holding a sign that said, “It’s better to give than receive.” To complete the look, Owens even had his makeup done by professionals and had a hidden camera clipped to him to film people’s responses.
He never expected the reactions he received, with some people rolling their windows up and waving him away as he tried to hand them a $50 bill. Even as he yelled, “My needs are met!” some drivers wouldn’t accept the cash. Most others stared at him, asked if he was serious, and one man even thanked Owens and said that he had just paid his bills and was short on cash.
“People didn’t know what to do. The perception that they saw, that they experienced, was not reality,” said Owens.
Perhaps what touched Owens the most was that other people began paying it forward once they realized what he was doing. One man told him that his needs were also already met and to give the $50 to the next person instead. Another person that witnessed Owens’ actions ran over to a nearby gas station and brought Owens a cold water.
Though Owens recorded the video three years ago, he finally decided to share the footage online recently after sharing the story with family and friends for years. The response has been positive and overwhelming and has encouraged Owens to create more moments like this going forward.
“We don’t know what the needy look like, we don’t know who is in need,” Owens said. “Putting yourself second and other people first, even if it’s just a moment.” He added, “We need to love each other and give where we can give and help where we can help and lift each other up.”
Watch the short video below to see people’s reactions.