Phil had a chance to get himself off of the streets – he had a job interview at McDonald’s. To prepare, the recruiter suggested that Phil clean up his look, but Phil didn’t have the resources to do so. That’s when a big-hearted police officer named Tony Carlson stepped in.
Phil called the streets of Tallahassee, Florida, his home. But in July 2018, while he sat inside of a McDonald’s restaurant in his hometown, he overheard a conversation that could change all of that.
From his seat, Phil could hear a conversation involving Judy McLennan, a recruiter. She was talking about a couple of McDonald’s staff members who had obtained their positions while they were homeless – just like Phil was.
With that, Phil decided to pitch himself as a potential addition to the team. The franchise’s owner, Raphael Vasquez, recounted the incident to Today in July 2018. Vasquez said that Phil had promised to be a dedicated employee if he was handed a chance.
Recruiter McLennan had only one piece of advice for the hopeful new hire – Phil should shave ahead of the job interview. So the next day, Phil tried to check that requirement off of his to-do list – but it didn’t prove to be a straightforward task.
That was because Phil’s razor wasn’t working properly, and he had a thick beard to tame. But he stood outside a gas station anyway, trying his best to trim his facial hair ahead of his job interview.
Luckily for Phil, though, his efforts caught the eye of Tallahassee police officer Tony Carlson. The Tallahassee Police Department’s public information officer, Rachelle Denmark, later described Carlson as having a “heart of gold.”
And it seemed to be this inherent good-heartedness that spurred Carlson to step in and help Phil. First, the police officer noticed that the razor had a loose screw, which he fixed so that it would work more effectively. But Carlson didn’t stop there.
Instead, Carlson held onto the razor and took it upon himself to closely shave Phil’s beard. The reason why he gave the homeless man a hand? “If he’s wanting to help himself, I need to try and help him as best I can,” Carlson explained.
In fact, Carlson recalled that Phil “was excited that… he was going to get the chance to get a job, if he just did this single thing.” While the grooming would certainly have helped Phil at his interview, the police officer added that he wished he “could have done more.”
Little did Carlson know that his actions would make a very big impact indeed. He had no idea at the time, but someone was filming Carlson as he gave Phil a shave. And once the video hit the internet, the police officer’s actions received plenty of accolades. In fact, people even took to social media to request “more cops like Tony, please.”
But the story didn’t end there. The day after Carlson gave him a shave, Phil headed back to McDonald’s for an interview sporting the well-groomed look suggested by the recruiter. And according to Vasquez, “He interviewed, and he did everything great.”
Therefore, Phil got the job. But there was only one problem – he didn’t have the required forms of identification. Along with an ID card, he would also need a copy of his social security card.
By that time, though, the parking-lot shave video had gone viral – and had even made an impression on people who work for Senator Marco Rubio. As a result, staffers there reached out to Carlson because they “wanted to help Phil get his ID and social security card,” the police officer said.
So, the kind-hearted cop stopped by to tell Phil the good news – and dropped off some McDonald’s cheeseburgers for the soon-to-be employee. He also promised Phil that he’d bring him all the paperwork required to get his identification cards.
The local Goodwill stepped in, too, providing Phil with clothes worthy of a trip to the State Capitol building – a place Phil told Fox News he’d “never been inside.” With the paperwork finished, he and Carlson went to hand it all in and get the ball rolling.
Afterwards, Senator Rubio posted a tweet about Phil’s visit and how “proud of [his] staff” he was “for helping [Phil] get back on his feet.” Like many others, Rubio added he and his team were “rooting for” Phil on his new career path.
With all of that accomplished, Phil was finally able to start working at McDonald’s. He’d begin as a janitor, although the franchise promised him “room for growth,” according to Today. And, after a few days on the job, he was reportedly “doing great,” Fox News reported.
On top of that, Phil would be able to advance his own education while working at McDonald’s. The company provides longer-term employees with funds to pursue studies, whether they want to learn a second language or obtain a high school diploma. After three months working 15 hours a week, Phil would be able to earn a $2,500 credit for his own education.
As for the police officer who helped to get Phil there, Carlson believed his efforts suited his own vision of what it meant to serve. “I like to think of us more as peace officers first, law enforcement officers second,” Carlson told Today.