I can’t tell you how many times I’ve observed – with great interest, admiration and respect – street cleaners doing their thing: picking up, sweeping, and hauling the refuse du jour away in their little carts, thereby restoring a measure of order and cleanliness to what are usually very messy days.
The World Is Your Trash Can?
Aside from the side effects of high population density (think 90 million people in a space just a bit larger than the state of New Mexico), Vietnam is fast on its way to becoming a consumer society with prodigious amounts of paper/plastic bags and wrappers and neither the trash bins – in sufficient numbers – nor the environmental consciousness to inspire people to dispose of their trash properly. Too often, what’s flying out of those car, bus or truck windows is packaging from a food or other item. The world as trash can. Out of sight, out of mind.
The Unsung Heroes of Vietnam
The legion of street cleaners, who fan out every day to do what needs to be done, are some of the hardest-working yet lowest paid workers in the country. These unsung heroes of Vietnam’s world of work are one of the reasons why society is able to function, why the wheels keep turning. They are, in some respects, role models for others, regardless of level of education, position or sector. They exemplify a strong work ethic, dedication, and the ability to work independently under sometimes adverse conditions. They are an inspiration to me. How about you?