On Feb. 1, Phillip Vu, a recent college graduate and former bank analyst, posted a video in which he and the 46-year-old man — identified only as Mike — shared stories as they had dinner together in the car.
Vu explained that Mike, who frequently hangs out at Mamoun’s Falafel outside of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., had offered to clean his car windows in the freezing weather. So, Vu bought him dinner and invited him to sit in his car.
What the college graduate “never expected,” however, was that the two would open up to each other.
“How did you end up being homeless?” Vu asks Mike in a TikTok that has since received more than 1.7 million views.
Mike responds by saying that his mother had passed away, forcing him to survive on his own.
“I do what I have to do,” he says. “I walk around and ask people if I can pump their gas, do their windows, make money honestly.”
Mike then asks Vu about himself, to which Vu reveals that he had lost a parent.
“When I was younger, my dad passed away,” Vu says. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I just finished college, so I went to go travel the world. I just live in my car, play guitar everywhere.”
In a follow-up TikTok, Mike says that his mother passed away about a year ago.
“I’m still fighting the struggle,” he says. “Things happen in life you can’t stop.”
In response, Vu then shares a deeply personal story in which he came across a motionless man in the middle of a street on Christmas while it was raining.
“I run over there,” Vu says. “The guy has no color in his eyes at all. It was completely white. I’ve never seen anyone overdose before. He had no arm. I’m pumping his chest, and the ambulance comes and they just take him away. I don’t know why it was really sad because it was Christmas and he should be with his family, if he has family.”
After Vu tells Mike that he called his friends to cope with what he saw, Mike imparts a few wise words.
“God sent you that way,” he tells the California native. “You got a good spirit in your heart.”
Mike then tries to assure Vu by saying that he “might have saved [the man’s] life.”
“I might have saved his life,” Vu then says, facing the camera. “I’ve been beating myself up over this situation for the past month. Thanks to Mike for changing my perspective.”
A longer version of Vu’s interaction with Mike — which was posted on YouTube a day later — shows the two engaging in a nearly 10-minute-long conversation. At one point, Mike tells Vu that he often sleeps over at his friends’ places. He also adds that, on his best days, he makes about $15 offering to help others.
Social media users have since praised the two men’s open conversation.
“This is so amazing,” one TikTok user commented.
“This is so inspirational,” another added. “Like seriously you are showing that there is still good people out there in the world please continue spreading kindness.”
Vu has since started a GoFundMe to benefit Mike, where he has raised over $3,100.
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