It’s a difficult life to live when you’re homeless. For one reason or another, you’ve found yourself out on the streets, needing to live in tents or shelters, but at constant risk of losing your spot. And it can be difficult to get a job to make the money necessary to get a house, especially if job applications require you to place your residency on them. Well, one homeless man decided to get himself out of that situation. By picking up trash.
The man’s name was Josh Freeman. He had been spending the last few years collecting ample amounts of plastic. He was constantly ridiculed and mocked for it and his homelessness, but he didn’t let it bother him. He knew what he was working towards and continuing picking up all the plastic he could.
Josh had lost his job when he turned 30. In order to get through the toughest times, he spent the last 12 years years searching for plastic in a particular parking lot. People in the town he lived in weren’t particularly friendly, either. Scavenging helped him get food, but the rudeness of those surrounding him didn’t help with his predicament.
While few treated him well, the rudeness was especially prevalent at the restaurant that owned the parking lot he scavenged. The owner was nice enough to allow him to do so, but the waitresses were far from kind. He’d seen various waitresses come and go, but none of them treated him well. They treated him like he was scum.
While some would snicker behind his back, laughing at his situation, others made no effort to hide how they felt about him hanging around their workplace. They called Josh every mean name they could imagine and even accused him of being a predator. All he really wanted to do was collect his plastic.
Let It Wash Over Him
Josh just tried to brush them off. He had dealt with worse in the past. Josh was actually a former soldier. But he wasn’t going to demand respect from them. They didn’t deserve his time and attention.
“One Day I’ll Be Living There”
To keep himself going, Josh just reminded himself what he was working towards. He just would tell himself, “one day, I’ll be living there”, while looking at a picture of a tiny home. And at this point, that day wasn’t too far away.
Josh needed to work a little harder than he did usually. In a few more weeks it would be winter, and winter was harsh in this part of the country. It used to be his favorite season, but his tune changed after he became homeless. He was constantly exposed to the elements and heavy snow. And that also meant that the plastic he could find would be a shorter supply.
Living In The Woods
The only plastic that people normally used in the winter were normally coffee lids and certain takeout containers. And because of the size of the town, Josh would be forced to live in the woods that surrounded it. It was a struggle to make the trip, especially with so much thick, fresh snow in the area.
The Most Important Thing
But still, Josh had to make it back to town every day to search for plastic. It was the most important thing in his life at the time. Even more important to him than eating or warmth. It was basically his only hope to escape the situation he was in. Although, no one else knew why the plastic was so important to him.
Josh had tried for years to get a job and get off the streets. But no one wanted to give him a chance. So, he decided he’d figure something out his own way to escape poverty. His plastic was the answer and he’d focus all his energy on the task. He was certainly determined.
A New Employee
One day, though, something happened that completely caught Josh off guard. While going through the trash cans behind the diner, a young woman approached him. And then she gave him a hot beverage. She was a new waitress that worked at the restaurant. Yet, she wasn’t treating him like any of the others before.
The woman’s name was Cara. She asked if she could sit with him during her lunch break. While Josh was stunned, he did agree to keep her company. They started chatting, and not long after Cara pulled out a sandwich and offered it to Josh. He could hear her stomach rumbling and didn’t want to take her food, but Cara insisted.
It became a routine for them over the next few days. Cara would spend her lunch breaks with Josh, and she’d make sure he’d have something to eat. Josh appreciated the company, but he felt bad eating her lunch every day. But Cara said she’d eat when she got home. He thought it might have been a trick the other waitresses had come up with, but he soon realized that Cara was being genuinely kind. She had grown up in a bad household and just didn’t want to see anyone else suffer.
The Purpose Of Plastic
One day, Cara asked Josh why he was collecting the plastic to begin with. He avoided the subject, feeling protective of his batch, but did admit that it meant the world to him. Cara thought this was interesting and offered to bring him some of her plastic from home. This was exciting for him and filled him with joy. He gladly accepted the offer.
The Time Was Near
Josh had been getting much more plastic than usual. And thanks to Cara’s offer, he had more plastic than he would’ve imagined to be able to get in that period of time. If things continued to go well, it was only a matter of time before he would reach his goal. And he knew who had to thank for that.
How Much Plastic
One night, Josh sat down and watched the piles of trash bags that surrounded his makeshift tent. There were several pounds of plastic, but he still wasn’t quite there yet. He’d need to collect plastic for about another year if he wanted to reach his goal. Then he’d be exactly where he needed to be.
Even though it would take another year, Josh was excited. He was closer to his goal than he’d ever been and felt pride. But something happened that night that made Josh almost wish he had given up.
Josh woke up to noises outside. He checked the cold, outdoors and his heart shattered. The plastic he had been collecting, it was gone. Something or someone had taken around a third of the plastic he had been collecting.
Cara To The Rescue
Cara arrived at work the next morning and found Josh sitting on the sidewalk, on the verge of tears. She asked him what had happened and he explained what had happened. He was afraid he was going to be homeless forever. It was just too much, and Cara got to work immediatealy.
Return Of The Plastic
In less than a week, Cara showed up with a bus full of people to Josh’s tent. And then they started unloading a truck they had brought with them. Cara had explained Josh’s story online and a group of people had agreed to help him collect plastic. Not only had he replaced everything he had lost, but now had a few pounds extra as well.
What Goes Around Comes Around
Even though Cara had never understood why his plastic was so important to him, it made her happy to see the joy on Josh’s face. He gave her a big hug and asked what he could do for her. But Cara didn’t want anything in return. His happiness was gift enough.
He Was Gone
When Cara went in to work the next morning, she was expecting to be able to talk to Josh about the support they had gathered. But he was gone. She thought she might have just been early, but he never showed up that day. Or the next day. A week passed and her concern was growing. He hadn’t been around since she dropped off the plastic.
Worrying About Josh
Cara knew that, even if he didn’t want her food, he would at least come for her company. Cara went to go find his spot in the forest. But she was shocked to see that he was gone. And not just Josh, himself, all of his plastic was gone too.
Cara could barely sleep that night. And when she got to work the next morning, she was in a foul mood. It didn’t help when she heard some of her coworkers gossiping about her relationship with Josh. At first she was trying to be polite and civil when speaking with them. But she bit back when they called him a disgusting homeless man. The argument raged on, at least until one of them admitted that they were the ones that had stolen Josh’s plastic.
Cara was fuming. She wanted a bit of revenge herself for what they had done. But she completely lost her focus when a sleek, black Maserati showed up in the parking lot.
A man got out of the car, in a fixed suit, and went into the diner. Strangely enough, he insisted he be served by Cara. When she approached, he asked her to sit with him. And that’s when she realized who she was talking to. It was Josh! He had come to offer her a position at his new, upmarket restaurant. Cara’s coworkers attempted to muscle in on the arrangement, but he remembered who had treated him well and who hadn’t. And he wouldn’t have been in the position he was in now if it wasn’t thanks to Cara.