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Record of Hongkou Sanitation Workers in Hot Weather

By Qi Chuanbin

Reporter meets Zheng Bo in the Shift Room at the crossing of Linping Road and Tianbao Road half an hour later than the appointed time. “The garbage cans in the Neighborhood Committee’s Dustbin House are spill-over and need to be cleared in time. So I’m a little late.” Zheng Bo, a tall, thin and dark-skinned man in sanitation uniform and wearing sunglasses, explained at the first time seeing the Reporter.

It’s very common for sanitation workers to be informed of such an emergent task. “It’s our duty, and the garbage should be cleared immediately especially in hot weather.” said Zheng Bo.

More Needed in Scorching Weather

Shanghai Meteorological Station released the 1st high temperature red alert of this year on July 21 and the high temperature reached 40.9℃ in some areas, creating new high of past 100 years. In such sauna days, everyone wants to stay at a cool place, but for sanitation workers, it’s the high time to “work with a will”.

“There are more watermelon peels, leftovers and other wastes in hot weather than in cool days.” Zheng Bo said that the garbage cans are filled up faster in Tongzhou Road section that he is in charge of. If not cleared in time, the wastes spilled over the garbage can would affect people’s living environment and send forth unpleasant smell which will attract flies and mosquitoes and endanger resident’s health.

“Our work is thus more important and more toilsome.” As the work load is greater, sanitation workers have less lunch break. They have to be on duty longer and work flexibly. As a result, they can only seek a place to escape from the heat by making use of every bit of the fragmented working clearance. However, seeing the dirty and smelly garbage cans and dustbin house cleared up, “I’m still very happy and feel my work worthwhile.” said Zheng Bo.

“1 Catty” of Sweat When Working around the Clock

Advanced Migrant Worker of Shanghai, “Top 10 Sanitation Service Model” of Shanghai, May 1st Labor Modal of Shanghai… these certificates in the Shift Room are the personal honor of Zheng Bo and also the approval for the quite dedication of all sanitation workers.

In his 26 years in the sanitation work, Zheng Bo has grown from an ordinary clearing staff into a clearing team leader and now the leader of the lighter team. “Being a leader” means greater responsibility and more tasks.

Person in charge of Jiaxing Block who has worked with Zheng Bo for years told the reporter, “The 251 plot at Siping Road has been under removal and relocation in these days and residents are busy packing up, which has produced many wastes that need staffs at Lighter Team to clear without a break and even give up their lunch break.” As it’s too hot, some staffs have become sulky. Being a team leader, Zheng Bo had to pacify them and also take the lead in clearing the wastes. “Everyone is working laboriously and I should lead the charge.”

Reporter experienced their work together with Zheng Bo. In only one hour, the Reporter standing by has sweated like a pig while Zheng Bo has been busy shoveling the wastes and transporting and clearing the garbage cans, only taking a few minutes’ rest in the way towards next station. His uniform was sticked closely on his body like he was caught in a heavy rain. “The clothes would get wet and then dry again and again in these hot days. It’s very common. Others say they would sweat ‘a catty of sweat’ a day, which is not enough for us. The sweat is salty at the beginning and finally gets flavorless.”

2,400 Workers Sticking to Frontline

In the eyes of his leaders and colleagues, Zheng Bo is very competent and dedicated; but for his son, he is not a “competent” father. Working in Shanghai throughout the year, he has less time accompanying his family. “My son living in my hometown Shandong does not ‘like’ me.” A mere trace of bitter smile crossed on his face when he spoke of this.

There are many colleagues around Zheng Bo who have the same “experience” but still work diligently. They have to silently swallow the “dislike” and “misunderstanding” of their families and then devote themselves to their work after adjusting their mood.

It is learnt that there are about 2,400 sanitation workers sticking to the frontline every day in the height of summer. Fan who is in charge of the road cleaning of Hongzhen Old Street walks tens of thousands of steps every day to make sure the road is clean and tidy; Cao who is in charge of waste clearance of Jiaxing Road starts to work at 4 o’clock in the morning and sometimes works till 10 o’clock in the evening…

You are the “beautician” of this city and we are grateful to you!