The man with the mop

By Herman Labuschagne  

Our company is sponsoring the Eden Lions Club with something for the "Eden Science and Invention Expo 2013" tomorrow. I had to go there this afternoon to deliver some things. The Expo is held inside the incredibly wonderful Outeniqua Transport Museum in George. It must be 10,000 square metres or more of shiny clean floor space, containing lots of old locomotives, carriages and classic cars. Possibly the biggest and best museum of its kind in Africa.

 

Being an old country boy, I greeted everyone who made eye contact as I crossed the museum from end to end. On the way out I passed a quiet man with a mop and a bucket and just then realized: There goes a man with a mop!

 

It suddenly struck me. There must be thousands of men and women who make a life and support a family with a mop and a bucket. They can be found all over the world. In bars and restaurants, hotels, airports, offices and shopping malls. If they all came together, they could probably form an army, or call out a republic.

 

Everywhere they pass they make our world shine, yet the one thing that all these people have in common is the fact that they are invisible. No-one notices them. They are never noticed, never tipped and never thanked. Even when they are riding in an elevator with us, we just dont see them. Yet, the reason why the floors were shining in a transport museum the size of a rugby field, was because of that man.

 

I greeted all the other people. But not the invisible man with the mop.

 

Long after I was already in the car and driving away, I was still thinking about the man with the mop. I suddenly realized that civilization is underpinned by cleanliness. We reap all the rewards of a clean and orderly world, but we forget to even smile at hotel maids, window washers, restroom service folks, street cleaners and people who get paid a pittance to wipe floors.

I resolved today that next time I meet a man or a woman with a mop Im going to smile at him for making life beautiful around us. Im going to try and make them feel visible at least once in a while for a change.