Great Street Sweeper & Martin Luther King, Jr.


The big yellow bus had swept up my kids and swooped them off to school and I was walking back home. Along the street three Hispanic men were weed-eating and sweeping.

“We try to make it look good for you!” One of the men called out. He had a bandana with a hat on top, a grill on a tooth and a big smile. I said thanks and stopped to talk.

“Yeah, it looks good. They want to sell these lots, don’t they?” I said.

“Yes, they do.”

I lingered a few more minutes and the older man just listened while I talked to the younger about houses and the weather, and he said he had a friend who built a house that was too big, more than he needed and he couldn’t afford it anymore and had to sell it. I said, “yep” and he said his trailer cost $400 a month. I told him how much my house mortgage is.

“You work for Coast?” I asked.

“Yes, we work for Coast Consolidated, but we do all kinds of work–concrete, retaining walls, but sometimes we have to clean streets.”

I thanked them for the good work they were doing and told them to come get water at the house if they needed to.

Here is what Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a speech in 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama:

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.'”

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