La Voz de Galicia – October 30, 2020 →

Cristina PatoI decided to stop at the park halfway home. As usual, I packed the shopping bags more than I should have, and my hands were hurting. Sitting on a bench, I was astonished by the yellow of the leaves on the trees, by the light they emitted on such a gray day; and then I saw him pass by, with his same trolley, with his elegant figure…And because at this time of my life I need not rush, I decided to remain there a little longer, looking at nothing in particular, and seeing him, the sweeper.

This man, mister sweeper, is not young. He has been working around my neighborhood for some time, and his way of performing his job has always called my attention: wearing an immaculate uniform, and with much respect, he cleans and picks up things from the ground, and each one of his gestures has its own rhythm, its own beauty.

Today, after picking up a can from the ground, he sat on a park bench. He stared at the yellow leaves, and with a smile on his face, he took out his disinfecting gel, cleaned his hands, removed a cloth napkin that he placed on his knees, took his lunch box and ate, observing nothing in particular in the same way I was, just like that. When he was done, he undid the ritual, and after meticulously gathering his cutlery, he neared his trolley again to collect an item I had not noticed before: a bottle of cologne. He perfumed himself discreetly and affably continued with his work.

I returned home just right after this, and after placing the groceries in their place, on a day where everything seemed gray, I decided to change out of the jogging suit I had been wearing for several days and into a flowered shirt, and I also perfumed myself. And for some strange reason, at that moment I finally felt that I could undertake what I had to do today: write this column.

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