Reader’s Choice Winner: Found on the Underground

Found on the Underground

by Alice Little

‘I’m just not sure you’ve got the go-getter spirit we’re after at CrowdFundIt.’

Logan remembered Michelle’s words as he sat on the Underground going home. She had turned him down for promotion, and let him know that there was no point re-applying. He would remain a junior salesman.

He glanced around the empty carriage. There was rubbish everywhere. He idly picked up an umbrella. He couldn’t get it to collapse fully – that was probably why it had been left behind. A second umbrella, this one with ripped canvas, was rolling about on the floor, and among what he had assumed were just newspaper pages he found a cracked vase, presumably dumped when the newspaper hadn’t proved enough protection.

Logan took these three items to the ticket desk, which was closed. He shrugged at the cleaner, who responded, ‘Is all broken? Then no one wants.’

Logan didn’t like to throw the things away and, with nothing better to do that weekend, he set about repairing them – if he could make good the damage he could sell them on.

The closing mechanism was damaged on the first umbrella, so he took the slide from the second and used it to fix the first. The second umbrella, he stripped the canvas from entirely (he could use it to patch his tent), and papier-mâchéd the frame. He spray-painted it, and listed it on Etsy as a trendy wall decoration. It sold before he’d even finished mending the vase, which he then also painted and listed as upcycled glass art.

On Monday, coming home from work, he kept an eye out for further discarded items, and by the end of the day he had a shoe with a broken heel (which he made into a jewellery stand), a stained cushion (which he washed and made a new cover for), and a briefcase with a broken handle (which he mended). By the end of the week his first items had netted him over sixty pounds; the following week’s haul raised over two hundred. By the end of the month he was making more from repairing and repurposing left-behind items than he was at the crowdfunding company. And Michelle had said he lacked entrepreneurial spirit! He showed her.

He could make a real go of this, he thought. He used his staff account to set up his own crowdfunding page, and within a fortnight had raised enough money to rent a workshop space and tools. He took out ads encouraging people to bring him what they saw as junk, and to buy items they regarded as vintage, craft, or designer.

Six months later, a woman smiled uneasily at him across his workbench.

‘Michelle! What a… lovely surprise.’

‘I came down to see what all the fuss was about. Maybe I should have promoted you after all,’ she said. ‘Imagine what you could have done if you’d stayed at the company.’

‘If I’d stayed at the company,’ Logan replied pointedly, ‘I’d still be a junior salesman.’

Alice Little is a writer of short and long fiction, and runs workshops for Didcot Writers. Find out more at, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @littleamiss.

Our Reader said:

An uplifting story about opportunities appearing where least expected. The ending was incredibly satisfying!


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