Have you ever raked leaves in a swirling wind storm? Me neither. It sounds miserable. This occupied my thoughts while walking to work yesterday. It was an unusually cold and windy day here in DC and I was intrigued by a woman who was working outside one of the embassies near Dupont Circle. She was valiantly sweeping the sidewalks but seemed to be losing the war with the evil gusts. Everytime she moved a leaf into a pile, another was lifted and dispersed.
I became frustrated watching her. It reminded me of the women in India who would sweep the streets. Bent over awkwardly, they steadily pushed around their half-sized, homemade brooms. Even after hours of this, the dirt never seemed to go anywhere and the streets no cleaner. I saw this practice all over India, even on dirt roads. To me, it represented utter futility.
Throughout the day, I found myself wondering what it was like to be one of these women. I struggled to imagine how I would deal with that type of job. It would make me crazy. I felt grateful for mine. Yet, as I left the non-descript office building where I had spent all day inside, dressed in business casual, sitting in a cube, typing away on a computer – I wondered if anyone was observing me and thinking that I was the crazy one. That my job would frustrate them and make them nuts. They would hate being cooped up inside and dealing with office issues, whether bureaucracy or a broken computer. Which begs the question - is it more exciting to battle the wind and dust or powerpoint and email?