MIAMI (AFP) - Young Walter Carr did not want to miss his first day of work as a mover. So when his car broke down and he was unable to find a ride, he set off walking - a distance of 32km.
A long night and two very sore feet later, things turned out OK for the 20-year-old Carr: His new boss found out what Carr had done and gave him the keys to his own car, a Ford Escape.
The story went viral on social media after an Alabama woman who had called boss Luke Marklin's company for help moving, Jenny Lamey, posted about it over the weekend on Facebook.
"He is humble and kind and cheerful," she said of Carr in a post that by Wednesday had drawn more than 6,000 reactions.
"I am in total awe of this young man," she said.
Lamey learnt from Carr that his family, originally from New Orleans, had lost their home in Hurricane Katrina and had then moved to Alabama.
But Carr, after paying rent on a new apartment, was flat broke.
He left his place in Homewood, Alabama, shortly before midnight on Friday, figuring that as a former high school cross-country runner he could manage the 32km on foot.
Four hours later, as he was taking a breather, a police officer stopped to check on him.
Impressed by Carr's sincerity - and learning that the young man had had little to eat - the officer bought him breakfast, then drove him a few kilometres farther before wishing him well.
After Carr had walked as far as the town of Pelham, another policeman - alerted to Carr's plight by the first officer - stopped and gave him a ride the rest of the way.
Lamey was at home at 6.30am on Saturday when her doorbell rang.
"It was a police officer. He proceeded to tell us that he had picked up 'this nice kid' in Pelham early this morning."
She and her husband told Carr he could relax until the rest of the moving team arrived, but he insisted on getting straight to work packing.
Later, when Marklin heard the story, he decided to give the young man his car.
"This is my car," he said, handing his newest employee the keys. "And I'd like it to be your car."
"Seriously?" the young man asked in amazement.
Lamey started a "Thank You Walter" account at the GoFundMe.com site to raise money to help Carr, and by Wednesday afternoon, it had raised more than US$60,000 (S$82,000).
In a video posted by the Pelham police, a clearly emotional Carr expressed his gratitude.
"Every hard work that you do will pay off in the long run," he says.