Scratch beginnings is about college graduate Adam Shepard trying to find out if the American Dream is still alive by starting off in a random city in the southeastern United States. He draws Charleston out of a hat and begins his journey with one tarp, a sleeping bag, an empty gym bag, $25, and the clothes on his back. He considers his project successful if after one year he has $2,500 in cash, a car, a furnished apartment, and if he is able to continue to improve his circumstances by going to school or starting his own business. He resolves not to use his college education, credit history, or any of his previous contacts to help himself. Additionally, he would not beg for money or use services that were not available to others.
His first station is the homeless shelter run by Crisis Ministries, where he is at first appalled by the filth, but quickly blends in and makes friends. During his time at the shelter, he is surprised how many services are available to the homeless, but not everyone is taking advantage of them because of a lack of commitment.
Trying to find a job as quickly as possible, he starts working for a job agency, which sends him to different workplaces every day for little pay. Looking for a more stable position with a regular salary, he applies at numerous places in person and online until one of his homeless friends opens his eyes, telling him that the employers are biased against people who specify the shelter as their home address. Eventually, with a fiery speech, he demands a job at a moving company. The manager is pleased with his attitude and hires him on the spot, even though Shepard does not have the physique of a mover.
He becomes a truck driver and is sent out with different crews until he meets Derrick, who becomes one of his best friends. Because of their teamwork and efficiency, they soon build an excellent reputation. With his regular income, his Sunday jobs for George, and his tips, he is soon able to move out of the shelter and buy a used truck.
After a short stay in an attic, he renovates and rents a duplex together with Derrick’s cousin BG (short for ”
“). However, even though they seem to complement each other and have a good relationship at first, BG’s attitude disturbs their chemistry. BG is assigned to their crew but does not share the same work ethic; moreover, he keeps borrowing Shepard’s truck without his permission. Eventually, the conflict escalates when Shepard is so angry at BG that he starts to fight with him. BG, with his extensive history of street fights, seriously injures Shepard, but also changes his behavior. Both become close friends.
In the end, Shepard’s experiment is cut short when he learns of his parents’ health issues, which causes him to go back home and take care of them together with his brother. Nevertheless, with $5,300 in the bank, his own car, and a furnished place, his venture was successful.
Respond to at least two (2) peer assessements.
1. Scratched Beginnings was an intriguing book, and at first I was interested on how Adam was going to succeed in the goal he had set out for himself. I was still hesitant becasue I felt as if there were certain advantages Adam had such as a college education, as well as this idea that had he wanted to give up on this journey he could have without consequences becasue he had family back at home. In that retrospect, I wonder what kept him going on this journey, and where he got this determination? I also wonder weather or not Adam would have had the same success had he been a person of color or female? Overall, Shepard’s book taught many people to set a realistic goal that you are determined to work for. Shepard’s book also shined a light on the difficulties that the homeless face, and what just an ordinary person can do in order to give back to their community. For example, Shepard basically begged for the job he recieved at the Fast Company, and the other jobs that were available didn’t even offer livable wages. In some ways, I feel like Shepard got lucky, and in other ways, I believe Shepard’s determination would have eventually gotten him to his goal.
2. I enjoyed reading Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard. Following his journey was inspirational as he put himself in a position that many might not choose. It was intriguing to me that Shepard would give up the advantages he had – his college degree, a relatively comfortable life – to make a point that the American Dream was possible. I liked to read on how he beat his obstacles that he faced to get to the next step, and I think it can be motivational for anyone who could be in a similar position. To see someone else do it, then it could help you accomplish your goals and overcome your obstacles. This book also provided insight on the day to day life of a homeless person, which can be very eye opening for many readers who may not have known the reality of the struggles that they face. Overall, Scratch Beginnings was a good read and I would recommend this book to friends that might need extra motivation or a humbling perspective.
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