Feb 7, 2006

The Beijing snow shovellers

Snow-shoveling in China is serious business. This Monday, Beijing was bombarded with at least two inches of snow. Fortunately, crack teams of snow shovellers were dispatched. On Tuesday afternoon, they seemed to be making good headway at clearing the huge mounds of snow from the previous day.

Here's a behind-the-scenes analysis of two different teams in action.

Alpha Team is a four-person co-ed squad. Men #1 and #3, on the right and left, use small metal garden shovels to move snow into two tiny plastic pails. Man #2 , in the center, has discarded his broom made of straw for the moment (lower right). Normally his job is to sweep around any remaining powder and look busy. The woman on the team (#4), expertly walks the small pails of snow over to an open manhole and dumps the contents.

Bravo Team has five people. They have a seemingly insurmountable task: remove approximately one cubic foot of snow before they punch out in 8 hours. On the far left, Mr. Garden Shovel (#1) is pooped already. Man #2 is panting as he aimlessly throws shovelfuls of powder from the street onto the sidewalk. Man #3 in the center seems to be the only one actually accomplishing something useful. Mr. Orange Vest (#4) is swinging an empty garden shovel. Mrs. Broom Made of Sticks (#5) is waiting for more powder to fall into the street so she can swish it around.

I want to tell them all that they can just wait a day and all the snow will have evaporated in Beijing's dry air, but watching them is just too entertaining.

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