The Street Sweeper

Today, I suddenly remember a Malay Pakcik who I used to see a couple of times in a week in the morning when I have my breakfast before clocking in to work.

This Pakcik has now retired and I pray that he is living well after being a street sweeper for so many years. Yes, he was a street sweeper and a passionate one I should say.

He was a friendly man and very proud of his work. Whenever, I happen to see him, we would greet each other and I would ask how he was doing. He would proudly and happily say that he is fine and that one of his child is in college and another in secondary. Every time when I look at him, I feel the warmness in my heart. There is something special about this man, very strong and positive in his attitude.

He was cheerful and I could see his calmness and his genuine smile and when he talks there was so much excitement and energy. He would sometimes sit at one corner in the Indian coffee shop and write something in his little note book before continuing to sweep the street. I found him to be a great example of how we should be or I should be about my life. Passionate. Be passionate and be thankful for what I have; not what I don’t have. I am sure he saved as much as he could so that his children could have the best education he could give them which he probably never had.

He loved his work and he would do it with pride. How many of us actually love what we do, whether it was a career or job of our choice or not. I am sure sweeping the streets was not Pak Cik’s choice of career but a means for survival to put food on the table. To me it was not his education but his attitude that made the difference in his life. He had all the right attitude to life and that makes him so different from others. He refused to see the negativity in his work because he was proud of what he was doing and did it with love and gratitude too……

The last time I saw him was from a distance and he shouted across that he was retiring soon and now can rest. I smiled and wished him well. I haven’t seen him since. My biggest regret was I did not think of getting his contact to visit him and his family. I hope that someday, our path will cross and when that happens, I must remember to tell his children how proud I am to have met their father. To also tell them what a gem their father is.

He is one of my greatest teacher and that the right attitude makes a huge difference in life. I have full respect for him. He may be just a street sweeper but I know he made sure he was the best street sweeper.

So what if we have a high positioned job but lack the right attitude. Are you doing your best? Are you the best office worker, the best pianist, the best teacher, the best engineer or the best supervisor?

Do you have the passion this Pak Cik had? Do I have the passion Pak Cik had?

If a bricklayer becomes the best bricklayer that he can be, he would build a castle, not just a mansion.

From then on, I was even more aware and appreciative of the garbage collectors, food court workers, office cleaners, toilet cleaners, etc. I remind myself to smile and greet and acknowledge them so that they have a great day and know that there are people who appreciate them for what they are doing. More importantly, that THEY EXIST and THEY ARE IMPORTANT in society too.

Will you do the same? Will you be passionate ? Will you and I have gratitude for all that we have and don’t have?

16092074By Catherine Lim written June 23, 2010

Edited and published by:

Billy Kueek: The Parable of the Pencil & Other Empowering Stories


Reaching Out Reaching In

Reach 4

It’s a month (some time in August ) now, as a volunteer in Reach Out Klang Frontline Walk in Kindness and Fun. It has been quite a journey spiritually, psychologically and mentally for me. The nights when I am with those awesome Reach Out leaders and other volunteers, more and more I learn about myself and the different colours of personality that make this small world.

The street friends need to build their trust with us. I need to build my trust with them in order for me to approach them and in turn, open their hearts and friendship to me. I learned about trust, humility, empathy, friendship, openness and kindness, even bravery. Love plays such an important role here; Love for HUMANITY.

Coming out of my comfort zone and allowing my inner self to discover and enter the world of the homeless and poor puts me in a spot where I now unconsciously say “Thank You”, every moment of the day.

We don’t judge why these friends are out there sleeping in the streets. We wait to listen to their life stories and we gently guide and find ways to help them. Sometimes successful, sometimes not. Isn’t life like that? Circumstances put them there, and life can be tough for them.

The Map is Not the Territory. We need to understand before we judge.

The real school of life, is when I go out at night to serve my street friends. I learn deeper and find that I am so blessed and rich. Not the material richness but the spiritual richness. The little that I have in material things, some have none at all.

Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa are among the 2 most respected people who had given their lives to the poor and marginalised. There are many awesome people today, who are not recognised by the world but they play such an important part in making this world a better place. And they do not see colour or creed or even status.

Can you imagine, if each one of us give a little, so much poverty and famine could be lessen or even eliminated.

We are mirrors to each other. Are we rich in materials yet poor in other ways?
We are creatures that hoard… Can we give away some to those in need?
It can be material and it can also be spiritual – love, kindness, understanding, laughter, even a listening ear.

A wise man said that to feel the Joy, we need to give. The more we give, the more we receive. To me the receiving has been wonderful eversince I learnt to give.

We need to give to build the riches we need. Let’s love a little more, folks!

Luke 21:1-4 The Widow’s Offering

21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”