When Jalesya Corbett decided to take a job that was much farther from home than she had hoped, she knew that getting to work wouldn’t be simple. At the time, she could not have imagined that her work commute would end up changing her life — with just one chance encounter along the route.
A Walk On A Dark, Cold Morning
Jalesya Corbett was walking on the shoulder of one of the busier roads in town. She was on her way to work, and she would definitely count this particular morning as one of the more unpleasant work commutes that she had to suffer through.
It was usually dark during her commute, seeing as she went out at the incredibly early hour of 3 in the morning. But today, the rain was pounding down against the pavement and her small umbrella did not seem to be protecting her. The dark dreariness of it all made her feel a little uneasy. Then, she noticed headlights. Someone was slowly pulling up behind her.
Trying To Avoid The Unwanted Attention
Corbett always tried to remain cognizant about her surroundings when she was on these early morning walks. Her eyes darted behind her as she noticed the strange light approaching. She began to look around and saw that she was alone. No one was in sight besides her and this mysterious car.
Half curious, half panicked, Corbett hoped that the car had slowed down just to avoid splashing her with water. But she quickly realized that this was not the case. She picked up her pace as the car crept next to her. Corbett could not see who was inside. Little did she realize just how that driver was about to change her life.
The Man Behind The Headlights
The heavy downpour of rain was making it hard to see exactly who was pulling up next to Corbett. But as the car came more into focus it became clear at least what was driving beside her. There was no mistaking that the vehicle was a police car. But why? As far as she could tell, she hadn’t done anything wrong.
The truth was that the police officer inside had seen Corbett before, and knew her story. That morning, the man she would soon learn was named Sgt. Scott Bass decided to intervene. What he did not know was how quickly everything would snowball as a result of his actions.
12-Mile Working Routine
While this morning’s trek through the cold and the rain was particularly miserable, Corbett was used to mornings like this. In fact, every morning she walked six miles to work, clocked in an 8-hour shift at her local Bojangles chicken and biscuits restaurant, and then walked those same 6 miles back home.
In an interview, she explained how she found herself in this position. “I applied to several Bojangles, and the farthest one from my house called me first, so I said ‘OK, I’ll work at this one and I’ll walk since I had no other way to get out there.” It had become her normal routine, but that morning was already far from normal.
Finally Approaching The Cop Car
Corbett did not have another way to get to work, and her only option was to walk, even if that meant coming to work during a storm. Rain, sleet, or shine, she would not let the elements affect her sense of purpose. She explained in an interview: “I still walk. How else am I supposed to pay the bills?”
The Bojangles employee knew that she would not be able to just ignore the cop car driving beside her. She nervously tried to figure out if she was doing anything odd or illegal, something that would attract an officer’s attention. But Corbett could not figure out an explanation, and decided to get one herself. She approached the police vehicle.
Getting Into The Cop Car
Corbett ambivalently went up to the policeman as he rolled down his window. “Can I help you, Officer?” she asked. Immediately, she felt a bit more at ease as Sgt. Bass flashed her a smile. He saw the woman shivering in the cold and rain, and asked her if she wanted a ride.
“I said, ‘Yeah, I could use a ride,'” Corbett later said in an interview. She was thankful to get some shelter from the storm, even if that meant an awkward commute in a police car. Nervously, she stepped inside and shut the door. She did not know that this decision would soon become the subject of national headlines.
What Exactly Is Going On?
In her months of working at Bojangles, not a single person had ever offered to give Corbett a ride to work. She was happy that she had some time to dry off on her way to her shift, but she was not very quick to trust the police officer.
Other than initially asking where exactly she worked, Corbett and Sgt. Bass were both silent for the entire car ride. The silence let Corbett’s mind wander. Cop or not, she had just gotten into a car with a strange man in the middle of the night during a rainstorm. Could she have written a more perfect start to a horror movie?
Sgt. Bass’ Motives Are Revealed
In an interview with Sgt. Bass a few months later, he explained what led to his impromptu carpool that morning. “I was getting near the end of my shift, and I saw her leave the city side, going into the county side of town,” he began.
“She had her work uniform on, and it was raining, it was cold, so I stopped to check on her and she told me she was going into work, and I offered her a ride because she had quite a few miles left to go,” he said. It was all in a day’s work, he thought. But this was just the start to the pair’s story.
An Unexpected Offer
A commute that usually took Corbett two hours quickly turned into a car ride that lasted just a few minutes. As they reached the Bojangles restaurant, Corbett turned to Sgt. Bass and thanked him again for the ride. But Sgt. Bass felt like he still had not done enough for the woman he had just met.
While it definitely was not in his job description, Sgt. Bass found himself offering to give Corbett a lift more frequently, especially when the weather was particularly bad. Corbett was pretty blown away by the act of kindness, and though she felt the offer was way too much, she eventually accepted. But as it would happen, he would not end up giving Corbett a ride for much longer.
A Year Goes By
For about a year after he had met Corbett, Sgt. Bass continued to pick his new friend up on rainy or cold mornings. The rides started to become something of a tradition. There were even some days when Sgt. Bass would show up unannounced, during a perfectly clear day, still offering a ride to cut back on Corbett’s work commute.
Even on days when Sgt. Bass could not make it to Corbett’s home, he would reach out to other officers on the force to see if they had time to help. Over the course of the year, the two became increasingly close. But as time went on, Sgt. Bass began having second thoughts.
New Work Commute
In Corbett’s mind, Sgt. Bass had gone above and beyond to help her out on her work commute. However, the way Sgt. Bass saw it, he was not doing nearly enough. “She walks two hours to work and then she’s gotta stand up for 8 hours,” he said. “I know what it’s like to have to work that hard.”
As the days went on, he said “It just kind of really weighed on me and bothered me, and every day that I gave her a ride I just, for some reason, would talk to my wife about her,” he said. With his wife, he would discuss how he felt like his help was not even scratching the surface of what his new friend needed. So he came up with a plan.
The Gift That Kept On Giving
Sgt. Bass stepped his actions up a notch. “I wanted to do something more for her,” he said. “So that next day, I called Walmart, which was in the area, and asked them if they could work with me.” He wanted to gift Corbett “a bicycle to help turn a 2-hour walk into a 30-minute ride.”
The manager of the local Walmart was touched by Corbett’s story as well as Sgt. Bass’ desire to help out. The store gave him a free beach cruiser bicycle to pass along to Corbett. He immediately went to deliver it to his new friend. But her reaction would not be the one the most surprising one he was about to receive.
The Picture That Changed Everything
As soon as Corbett saw Sgt. Bass’ gift, she was struck speechless. “I was shocked,” she said in an interview. “I didn’t think it was real.” She knew that this new mode of transportation would be a complete game changer for her arduous work commute.
Together, Sgt. Bass and Corbett took a picture outside of her home, posing with her brand new bicycle. Once Sgt. Bass got back to work and his bosses saw the picture, they decided to share it online. “We are so proud of Sergeant Scott Bass and his selfless service he provides on a daily basis,” the Facebook post said. Yet what had started as a simple post quickly led to the unthinkable.
Sgt. Bass’ Picture Goes Viral
In a world of negative news, it seemed that the positive message and story behind the Nash County Sheriff Office’s Facebook post quickly caught on. Everyone in town was suddenly talking about the tale of a cop, a Bojangles employee, and a bike. They did not know that there was about to be a whole new chapter added to their story.
The post quickly racked up thousands of comments and likes. People living far beyond the bounds of Nash County began to share the post with their friends. It seemed like everyone was talking about the heartwarming story. But the coverage had only just begun.
Over the next few short days, the attention surrounding the story of the unlikely pair of friends only expanded. People were sharing the story online, leading their friends to share it with their circles, and the chain continued until the story had made its way across the country.
Local news channels began contacting Sgt. Bass and Corbett for interviews, and they took part in several. They were happy to share their unlikely story, and they were both in disbelief that people seemed to care this much about what had happened. And then, they both received an unexpected phone call that left them both astounded.
Appearing On National Television
It turned out that a casting agent for the well-known talk show The Steve Harvey Show had heard about their story. The casting agent showed the local interviews to Steve Harvey himself, who decided he wanted them both to appear in an upcoming episode.
Both Corbett and Sgt. Bass jumped at the opportunity. It would be their first time appearing on national television, and the idea of flying out to Chicago to talk about their friendship both excited them and made them nervous. Corbett gave her work notice that she would be out of town for the taping. In turn, Bojangles did something Corbett would never see coming.
An Unexpected Surprise
By the time that Corbett and Sgt. Bass began to appear on local news stations, Corbett’s employers at Bojangles had already heard her story. But as the story continued to garner attention across the country, even some of the executives high up in the restaurant chain began to take notice.
Everyone at the company knew the story was getting big, but when Corbett informed them that she would be appearing on Steve Harvey’s television show, they realized just how big it had become. In turn, the company not only offered her a raise, but they relocated her to a branch closer to home. Yet even that gift was still only the beginning.
Telling Her Story
On the day of the show’s taping, Corbett and Sgt. Bass sat together on stage in front of the studio cameras to share their heartwarming story with one of the most beloved faces in talk show history. As the segment was wrapping up, Harvey addressed Corbett directly.
“We know that you work hard, and we know that you deserve a little extra help,” Harvey said. “On behalf of the show, we are going to be giving you $5,000.” It was apparent to all, whether sitting in the studio audience or watching at home on television, that Corbett’s eyes were beginning to tear up. Harvey continued: “But that’s not all.”
A Special Guest Arrives
Receiving $5,000 and the chance to be on Steve Harvey’s show would have been enough. But the gifts wouldn’t stop coming. At stage left, a retractable wall began to open. As the next gift came into focus, Corbett covered her mouth and began to cry.
Sitting on the stage, wrapped in a gigantic bow, Steve Harvey presented Corbett with a brand-new 2018 Ford Fiesta. Never again would Corbett have to wake up at 3AM to venture out into the darkness for her work commute. Never again would she have to walk 12 miles each day. The gift would change her life as she knew it.
A Simple Act Of Kindness
Before Corbett even approached her brand new car, she embraced her loyal friend, Sgt. Bass. As generous as Steve Harvey’s gift had been, she knew that no step of this entire journey could have been possible without the help of this local police officer.
Just a year and a half before, Sgt. Bass saw Corbett struggling silently, and decided to take time out of his own busy day to help her out. And in that moment, sitting on the stage of a national television show, he could finally see how far his simple act of kindness had gone. He hoped to himself that his good will would inspire others to help out their neighbors.
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