Tag Archives: society

Who cleans after us?

This is a short film that I did for my final exam for the Visual Anthropology course. Sanda has been working as a cleaning lady in my block for the last three years. Even if I saw her almost every morning when I walked my dog, the conversion never went further than a polite “Good morning”. It is only recently that I asked her if I could film her at work. So I found out her story. She lived in the countryside, she had five children one after another, she didn’t have any professional qualification, so she began her career when she was 50 years old, after her husband died, her children left and she found herself home alone. This job is common for the women in her neighborhood and for those in a similar situation to hers. At her workplace she mostly interacts with the president of the block committee, who is her direct boss, and with the men who come to take the garbage away.

Speaking of these men, one thing that struck me was their attitude when I tried to film them. They thought they are not people good to be filmed, that they are not doing something worthy to be shown. After a while I saw a news report on why the Danish are the happiest people on Earth. There was one Danish expert who argued that they are not people to experience orgasmic happiness (which also implies the existence of morbid unhappiness), but they live their lives in a state of satisfaction that doesn’t fluctuate too much. And I must agree with this: people are not burning with passion there. Another sociologist said that it is because they believe that no one is better than the other, so one is not convinced that he has to be a lawyer or a doctor to succeed in life. In fact, I think this goes hand in hand with another expert’s opinion who said that Danish people don’t have high expectations (understood as having a big house, a monstrous car, perfect children, an aseptic dog and a forever ascending career?), so the deception of not getting there is not that sorrow.

In fact, in the TV report below is given this example: a garbage man (that has free time for his hobbies- what a luxury!) who is expected in the morning by a lady with a cup of coffee and biscuits as if he were Santa Claus in flesh and bones. Well…it is highly probable that in Romania (but not only here, to be honest) Santa would receive a loud “You, jerk!” if the present wasn’t big enough or if he was late (like the garbage men are greeted in the film I made). Compare and contrast.