Author’s Note: I originally wrote this on July 24, 2015 and revised it in my 2016 Hobonichi. Only took three years to finally share it!
Harry held his breath as he placed the last soda can on top of the already mountainous pile in his shopping cart, tensely hoping it wouldn’t fall from its perch. he’d been scrabbling through the trash to get a head start on the other collectors and didn’t have the energy to chase it down the sidewalk if it rolled away. As it settled into the pile, he sighed in relief and continued trudging up the hill toward the redemption center. Others saw his collection as garbage, but for Harry it was the currency of the streets and collecting cans was the only employment he could find. It was hard, smelly work and not without dangers – a man on 45th Street had nearly lost a finger when he gashed it reaching into a dumpster and street people often got into fights with each other over their limited resources. In his previous life, Harry had never given any thought to the bottles and cans he’d so carelessly thrown away; his friends had tried time and again to change his ways to no avail. Their true potential had been lost on him until society treated him the same way. Only then was Harry truly thankful for recycling.