Street Cleaners

Street Cleaners

Les Cases D´Alcanar, Cataluña, Spain

By Julie Galosy

Street Cleaners


There were two of them. The Laurel and Hardy of dust men except the skinny one was short. They had an elaborate act, complete with costumes and props. The biggest prop was the huge sweeper machine. Hoarding two giant circular brushes, it moved along, its behemoth bulk sucking debris into its core from the gutters of the village.
Regally perched atop this metal monster sat the driver. Squat and fat, he inhabited the throne, cigar clenched in his teeth, and carefully navigated the narrow Catalan streets. At a snail’s pace he positioned this carriage along the curb in order to place it in an advantageous position to sweep and suck. Speed was not a priority. The pace was nearly languid with the huge man atop his chariot. He was the king of basura.
Contrasted to the crawling pace of the machine and its Jaba, the Hut Master, the other man, his partner, was a frenzy of activity. Broom in hand he scurried along the pavement into the street, sweeping debris ahead of him at a marathon pace. Never breaking stride he grabbed the public trash bins along the way, offering their contents to the waiting jaws of the steel monster.
He worked double time jutting from sidewalk to curb and back again. He swept in a near-panic throwing everything to within inches of the omnivorous jaws of the garbage sweeper as it trolled after him down the lanes.
Everything fell under his broom as people jumped aside to avoid the choreography of the cleaner. While Jaba remained sequestered atop the machine, the sweeper darted to and fro like a one-man ant farm ensuring that no tiny bits of dust or dirt or rubbish escaped the vacuum and the bristles of the machine. The sweeper was a very thin man.



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