Behind The Toothbrush, A Human Being

Cleaning_lady

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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