The cleaner

He drives back in his little kart, and I follow him eagerly, keen to capture a picture of him at work. It’s almost 7pm on Saturday, but it seems as if his day has only just started.

As families in nearby eateries revel in good food, and company, he drives his vehicle, with a garbage bin in tow, into the garbage dump. I follow him in as he manners his vehicle in the dump, taking care to avoid the puddles on the floor.

The air is rancid, and there is an unbearable smell inside. The interior of the dump is dim, and it is lighted by a few fluorescent bulbs. I finally approach him, and ask if I can take a picture of him. He obliges, barely stopping to ask me what it is for.

I snap two shots, not sure if my pictures will do justice to the work he does for us. He proceeds to unlink the garbage bin from his kart, and then pushes it to a machine. He presses a button, and the machine starts lifting the garbage bin, lifting it over an even larger dump. The machine proceeds to give the bin a few more affirmative shakes, and I stand in silence, wondering how he manages to do this as a job, 6 days a week.

He reverses his vehicle out of the rubbish chute, and I ask if I can take another few more pictures of him on his vehicle. He agrees, almost shyly, and I release the shutters. He moves off on his vehicle, garbage bin in tow, for another round of rubbish collection.

I barely get to speak to him, but in those moments, it seems as if there’s much more that has passed unspoken between us.



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