Saturday, September 29, 2012

Street sweeper man

So clean you can eat off of it
Shanghai, China
May 2012
Thematic. Grounded. Here.

This city seems to be filled with nameless, faceless workers who keep the streets, sidewalks, staircases and other outdoor infrastructure clean. Or maybe it's just a matter of perception, as I stayed in a part of Shanghai, Pudong, that is the city's financial district, with some of the world's largest skyscrapers competing cheek my jowl with upscale malls filled with the creme de la creme of American and European brands.

Maybe other parts of the city, the ones that look less like tomorrowland and more like the rapidly disappearing traditional China, don't have their public surfaces swept on an almost constant basis. Maybe this kind of thing is only for the benefit of foreigners.

Whatever. I still found the sight of this man, toiling away alone far below my hotel window, to be somewhat sad. I know he's working, and I know he's contributing to the lives of others in a certain way. But I wondered if this is really what he wanted to do, and I hoped when he got home, he was surrounded by a family that welcomed him, encouraged him to smile, and connected with him in ways the scurrying office workers and foreigners who ignored him on his perfectly clean stretch of sidewalk did not.

Your turn: Who is this man?


Kalei's Best Friend said...

You know the answer to this one... THAT man is all of us... and yes, I hope he does have a loving family to go home to... he may or he may not..that's the reality..There is more to a person than just what we see isn't there?

Snaggle Tooth said...

I always like to answer your questions-

Not only is he a bird poop washer, He's a ROCKSTAR! (in his dreams)