Within several days, Anthony Torres went from being a homeless man who was a laughingstock to having more than $37,000 in donations and the roaring support of the Internet.
Torres told The Washington Post that he is not able to work because of medical conditions, including pneumonia and a work-related injury from several years ago. But he has been touched by the invitations.
“I fee so happy, I feel like a new man,” said Torres, 56.
His turn of fortune has been swift and decisive, as he went from being a homeless man who was a laughingstock last week to today having more than $38,000 in donations from GoFundMe – and the roaring support of the Internet, which felt a collective shame for briefly kicking a man when he was down.
“Before, I was scared to show my face,” he said.
New Jersey Transit declined to confirm the offer to interview Torres for a job, saying, “We don’t comment on prospective employees.”
In the weeks before that train ride, Torres said, he slept in homeless shelters and beneath bridges. He was mugged and scared. He phoned one of his brothers for help, and the brother sent Torres money for a train ticket to visit another brother.
On the New Jersey Transit train out of Penn Station, Torres said, he felt hungry, dirty and downtrodden. He wanted to clean up to look presentable for his brother’s family. So he pulled out his razor on the train.
Another passenger on the train took a video of Torres shaving and posted it to social media, where it was viewed more than three million times in the first few days. The reaction was quick, with tens of thousands of negative comments, many of them unsparing. People called him gross, an animal and worse.
When a niece showed Torres the video, he was embarrassed. He told his family he’d never ride a train again.
But then the tide started to turn. People started defending him and telling the haters to back away. Soon, there were more people sticking up for him than shaming him. Jordan Uhl of Washington, District of Columbia, started the GoFundMe page that raised more than $38,000 for Torres in two days.
Torres welcomes the help and says he’s glad he’s no longer being publicly ridiculed.
“Now people know the real story,” he said.