June 28, 2012

Behind The Toothbrush, A Human Being

In the morning, I like to stop at the food court for some coffee (iced, not hot). 

This week, while heading down the stairs to the coffee stand, I ran into this lady cleaning the stairs. 

As I excused myself to her and got the nod to run past, I realized she was cleaning each stair not with a machine, or a mop, but with with a hand utensil that was basically like a toothbrush.

And as you can see, she was cleaning more just a couple of steps, but rather a whole staircase like this.

I had to take a second-take at this whole notion--I could not believe she was cleaning each step--one at a time--step by step--from one side to the other--bent over like this with this little tool-like toothbrush.

I wanted to stop and ask her about it--why she had to do it this way? But I was too embarrassed and more important didn't want to embarrass her.

I took this photo discretely not to shame anyone, but to point out the plight of workers in our society.

No one--NO ONE--should have to bend over a staircase or floor or anything like this and clean inch by inch--with a toothbrush!

When I think about it--it is shameful--no, it is enraging--that anyone would treat other human beings like this.

Let's face it--this is not done to get the stairs clean--there are machines and more appropriate hand tools--scrubbers, steamers, scrappers that can do that. Heck, I'd bet that we can modify a iRobot Roomba to eventually do it.

So this is not just about getting the job done, but perhaps about power, degradation, servitude, and even an element of abuse.

I felt terrible for this lady--I almost wanted to tell her to stop, but I assume, she has a family to feed too and has to do what she has to do.

But whoever is employing her and making her do this back-breaking work this way, as my grandmother used to say--G-d sees everything!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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