Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The invisibles

Steps to a better life
Shanghai, China
May 2012

They're everywhere here, workers in uniform cleaning this city's seemingly endless expanses of concrete and asphalt. Heads cast down, focused on the one job this society deems worthy of them, they're a constant presence on the streets of this teeming city.

Yet for all their ubiquity, no one gives them a passing glance as they rush off to another meeting, read their smartphone, share the latest gossip with co-workers during a cigarette break. Not that they could connect even if they tried, as the street cleaners' eyes never approach horizontal, so intent are they on the job at hand. Inevitably, someone in uniform - security? Cop? Military? I can never tell - stands idly nearby, making sure they're doing their assigned work.

In the end, the city is as immaculately clean as you could ever imagine. But at what cost?

One more thing: This photo supports our "from behind" Thematic theme. Click here to share yours.


21 Wits said...

I wonder if the woman walking past, even noticed that they were there, laboring away? Or was she so lost in thought that if anyone asked who or what was on the steps, could she answer? Would she reply, "Gee I wonder what was behind me!"

patti said...

Makes me wonder how many people I don't see ... :s

Tabor said...

This is a common sight there. They are submissive because they are on the lower rung of society. Other sights in poorer countries are naked people begging, which is an even more compelling sight.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

In Cali, you would not find this happening.. in Hawaii, yes,.. where my ex-bf lived his condo grounds were constantly being swept as well as the area right outside his door... I think its cultural..

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

as i looked at your picture, and read your words...i was thinking, what Tabor said.
it's sad really.
hard at work, doing their best...and probably not making enough money to live in anything more than a shack.

sad. the invisible people.

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

ok...well...i decided to give the thematic weekly thing a try...

so, take a look & let me know if i didn't link it correctly...and...enjoy! i'm pretty sure I WILL! =)

here's my link: http://forestwalkart.blogspot.com/2012/08/better-to-be-at-rear.html

Pat Tillett said...

Hi Carmi!
It always takes a lot of "behind the scenes" people to keep a city running, but I'm feeling the same thing you are about this particular city.

larkswing said...

I came to play again today :)

Your picture, such a different culture. Can't imagine a g'ment taking so much pride, but as you said, at what cost?