Sunday, December 19, 2010

Scooter Milk Men and Street Cleaning

Each weekday, my alarm abruptly ends my sleep at 4:30 in the morning. It's dark outside and cold. If it was up to me, I would roll over and fall back into my dreams for another hour. But, Audrey dictates the daily schedule. Some mornings, she pops up ready for her walk and bounds over to me if I don't move fast enough. Flapping her ears and nuzzling me, she shows her impatience as I slowly wake. Other days, it is she that is groggy. Walking sideways, her eyes droopy, she slowly makes her way to the door. By the time we reach the apartment lobby, both of us are usually awake enough to slide past our sleeping guard and out the door.

The streets are calm. Few lights are on and there is a surprising number of stars showing. Morning darkness in Taichung is clear and the moon lights the way as we begin our walk around the block. It's safer at this time of the day. Scooters are parked on the sidewalks and we stroll down the center of streets. The only other activity are the street cleaners and milk men.

From Random Taichung

In this photo taken later in the day, a street cleaner is loaded down by the collections. I'm not sure what the system is for cleaning streets but early in the morning I see the same people in the same area cleaning streets. They do not wear any type of uniform that would identify a city worker. Each appears to have a designated area, which they thoroughly walk to pick up any type of garbage. The streets are remarkably clean and much credit should be given to these people who begin the day early picking up trash. How are these people paid, I wonder? This scooter driver has a full load but the weight does not seem to be significant. Is it by volume? Type of material? Whatever it is, I thank them for clean streets and the hours spent collecting what other people let loose.

The other early morning activity is also done by one or two scooter drivers. Their scooters are loaded on each side and the back seat with clinking coolers. At first, I listened to them zip by and wondered why the coolers were attached. Making frequent stops, the delivery consists of yogurt and milk delivered door to door. Refrigerators are not included in the basic set-up of an apartment so many people appear to subscribe to a daily milk service to bring these refrigerated items.

So, my morning walks are mostly calm with silent nods to the street cleaners and a watchful ear out for the scooter milk men. By the time Audrey and I finish our loop and get hot water boiling for coffee, the city begins earnestly stirring awake for the new day.

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