Josh seemed obsessed with collecting plastic, but no one understood why. In the end, the people who mocked him over the years regretted their actions once they learned the truth.
For the last few years of Josh Freeman’s life, he collected plastic, hoping that the reward would come someday for all his suffering and hard work.
Although he had never anticipated all the hurdles that would be thrown at him, he still faced them. However, he succeeded, and he remembered whom he had helped along the way.
Doing What He Had To Do
A parking lot in this particular neighborhood had been Josh’s hunting ground for the last twelve years. In the toughest of times, Josh lost his job when he turned 30 and relied on the plastic he accumulated.
This small town’s people weren’t the friendliest, and they wouldn’t give a homeless man anything to eat unless they mocked him.
Thus, when he was starving, he sometimes scavenged for food to survive. There were a number of challenges in Josh’s life, though.
Treating Him Badly
The employees of the restaurant that owned the parking lot were particularly affected by that.
While Josh was allowed to scavenge his property by the owner, the waitresses were not so cooperative.
Although he had seen them come and go over the years, he had never seen them treat him humanely. As far as they were concerned, he was scum, and they made sure he knew it.
Josh’s girls would often snicker behind his back, and Josh knew their laughter was confirmation that someone had made a snide remark about his appearance.
Many of them did not try to hide their dislike for him hanging around their workplace.
It was not uncommon for them to speak their minds, and their comments would be shocking to any listener.
Josh was called anything they could think of. In addition, they accused him of being some predator who was waiting for an opportunity to prey on one of them alone.
In reality, that wasn’t even close to the truth. There was an ulterior motive behind Josh’s actions, but none of them were related to it.
It all revolved around his trash and what he could make from it.
He Ignored Them
As a result, Josh simply ignored them. The way they talked to him would never have happened if they had known who he was before he ended up in this position.
Josh was a respected soldier in his prime who ensured they could maintain the lifestyles they took for granted.
It was not in his nature to demand respect from people like that. It would be easier for him if he just did what he was there to do and got on with it.
In every situation where Josh was mocked or insulted, he reminded himself of his purpose. The dream and goals he set for himself were important to him. However, he wouldn’t be able to do that if he let every rude ‘Suzie’ get to him.
He leaned against a tree as he pulled out a picture of a tiny home he dreamed of one day owning.
“It will be my home one day,” he promised himself. Soon, that day would arrive.
His Least Favorite Season
Josh tucked away the picture and continued to work. Winter in these parts was harsh and would be here in no time, so he had a lot to do in the last few weeks before it arrived.
He had always enjoyed winter, but now he was not a fan. The elements, including large quantities of snow, were often exposed to him as a homeless person.
It also meant that his beloved plastic would be hard to come by.
He Had No Choice
The colder months were often filled with hot beverages, so Josh was unable to get his hands on anything but coffee lids and certain takeaway containers. There was another aspect of winter that Josh found difficult.
Due to the small size of the town, he was forced to live in the nearby woods.
Consequently, he struggled to make the trip because walking through thick layers of snow wasn’t easy.
The plastics Josh was looking for were usually in the city, and Josh tried to find them whenever he could. His life revolved around it. The importance of this was sometimes greater than the importance of eating or staying warm.
Having that hope was the only thing he had, and he was not about to give it up.
How can a homeless person benefit from plastic? Can it possibly be worth anything?
Focused And Determined
In Josh’s case, it was the key to his future, and he was determined to see it through. For years, he’d tried to get a job. He tried to get off the streets and live the life he always imagined he would have. And this was his way of doing it.
Since no one wanted to give him a chance, he had to do it himself. Because of that, he focused all of his energy on his task, and it seemed like he was doing well.
But it was taking a lot longer than he hoped it would.
A New Employee
And then, one day, something happened that caught Josh completely off guard. He was busy going through the massive trash cans behind the diner when a young woman approached him.
She gave him a sweet smile and offered him a hot beverage.
Josh was stunned that the diner’s newest hire was so friendly. He kind of expected her to be like everyone else.
The woman introduced herself as Cara and asked if she could sit with Josh while she was on her lunch break. Josh was still a little stunned, but he agreed to keep the lady company.
She did just offer him a coffee, after all, so it would be rude to refuse her request.
The two of them started talking, and before long, Cara pulled out a sandwich and offered the entire thing to Josh. He could hear her stomach rumbling and didn’t want to take her food away, so he politely refused. But she insisted.
She Tried Her Best
Over the next few days, this had become a routine. Cara would spend each of her lunch breaks with Josh, and she would make sure that she always had something delicious for him to eat.
Josh appreciated the company but felt really bad about taking her lunch and often insisted they share it.
However, Cara simply told him that she could eat when she got home, whereas he could not.
Unlike All The Others
At first, Josh thought it was just a trick the employees came up with, so they could mock him again. But after about a week, he realized that Cara wasn’t like those girls.
She was just a caring young woman who grew up in a bad household, and she didn’t want to see anyone else suffer.
Cara was just trying to do her part. Josh was lucky that he met her when he did because everything was about to change.
There Was Something About Her
One day, while they were sitting together, Cara asked Josh why he was collecting all the plastic. Josh was feeling very protective of his batch and instinctively avoided the subject, but he did tell her that his plastic meant the world to him.
Instead of getting irritated, as he thought she would, she laughed and offered to bring him some of the plastic she had at home.
Josh was filled with joy and gladly accepted the offer. But he had no idea that she would go as far as she did.
Time Was Approaching
Over the last few days, Josh had been moving faster, and thanks to Cara’s generous offer, he had more plastic than he ever imagined he would get in such a short amount of time.
If things continued the way they had over the last few weeks, it would only be a matter of time before his dreams come true.
But he would never forget the woman who was responsible for that.
One night, Josh sat down and watched the piles of trash bags that surrounded his makeshift tent.
From his estimations, there were quite a few pounds, and that would do a lot. But it still wasn’t enough.
To reach his goal, Josh would need a lot more. If his calculations were correct, another year of collecting would put him exactly where he needed to be.
He Was Over The Moon
Josh would be lying if he said he wasn’t excited. Even though it would take another year, he was closer to his goal than ever before, and that was something to be proud of.
He would survive a twelve-month winter if it meant he’d finally be out of the situation he was in.
But that night, something happened that would have Josh wishing he’d given up years ago.
A Sad Night
It was the middle of the night, and Josh had been woken up by noises outside. He got up and braced for the cold to see what was going on.
But as soon as he looked at his pile of plastic, his heart shattered.
It was gone… At least a third of the plastic he had been collecting over the last few years was stolen.
She Decided To Help
When Cara arrived at work the next morning, she found Josh sitting on the sidewalk, and he looked like he was on the verge of tears.
She ran over to him and asked what had happened. He told her that he had lost his precious plastic. His hopes and dreams had come crashing down, and he feared that he’d be homeless forever.
It was too much for her to handle, and she immediately jumped to work.
More Than He Expected
Less than a week later, Cara and a bus full of people showed up at Josh’s makeshift tent in the woods. They started unloading a truck that they had brought with them, and Josh just stared at them with big eyes.
That was when Cara explained that she shared Josh’s story online, and all those people agreed to help him collect plastic.
They not only replaced what he had lost but also managed to gather a few pounds more.
He Had To Return The Favor
The joy in his eyes melted Cara’s heart. Even though she never understood why his plastic was so important to him, she could tell that her gesture meant the world to him.
Josh gave Cara a big hug and asked what he could do to return the favor. But she didn’t want anything.
Seeing him so happy was more than she ever could’ve asked for. However, Cara underestimated Josh and his precious plastic.
He Went Missing
When Cara arrived at work the next morning, she was hoping to see Josh and discuss the support they had gathered online, but he wasn’t there.
She thought it was just because she had come so early and kept an eye out for him during the day.
But Josh never showed up that day, and he wasn’t there the next day either.
Days Had Passed
At first, Cara wasn’t concerned about Josh’s absence, but when the end of the week rolled around, that changed.
She hadn’t seen him at all since she dropped off the plastic, and that was starting to concern her.
Cara knew Josh had no obligation to come back to the diner, but something was telling her that there was more to it than him just missing out on a free meal.
Has Something Happened?
Cara could tell that Josh was enjoying her company, and if he didn’t want the food, he’d come back for that. She would’ve done it if the situation had been reversed.
She couldn’t just accept that this was happening of his own free will and thought something must’ve happened to him.
So that night, she headed into the forest to find him. She was shocked to find that Josh and his plastic were gone.
Cara barely got any sleep that night, and by the time she got to work the next morning, she was in a terrible mood.
So when she heard her colleagues gossiping about her relationship with Josh, she didn’t think twice about fighting back.
At first, she was trying to be polite and asked them to stop their nonsense, but when one of her colleagues asked her why she was standing up for a disgusting homeless man, she bit back.
She’d Never Seen Such Rudeness
Cara told all of her colleagues that they were the ones being disgusting because they treated a war hero like he was a piece of trash.
The argument raged on, but when Cara decided she had enough of dealing with such ignorant people and walked away, she heard something that sent her over the edge.
A few of her colleagues admitted that they had stolen Josh’s plastic.
One Special Day
At this point, Cara was fuming. She wanted to take revenge on every single person who was working there.
But she was stopped when everyone’s attention turned to the sleek black Maserati that had just pulled into the parking lot.
What Cara didn’t know was that everyone, including her, was about to get what they had coming to them.
She Couldn’t Believe Her Eyes
A man stepped out of the car, and Cara’s breath caught in her throat. He fixed his suit and came into the diner. Everyone was fawning over him, but he insisted on being served by Cara.
When she approached, he asked her to sit down, and that’s when it finally hit her. It was Josh, and he had come to offer her a job at his new, upmarket restaurant. The second her coworker heard that she tried to intervene and steal the job. But Josh remembered who treated him well and who didn’t. And he wouldn’t be where he was without Cara’s help.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.