Out and About

Out and About

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chimney Man

The other day something happened that has made me reflect and appreciate life a bit more. My boyfriend and I were sitting on the Prague subway chatting in Spanish and there was a man who seemed to be a manual laborer, perhaps even a hobo, with a gray one-piece suit on. As is par for the course, we had lost track of what stop we were at and started wondering out loud in English where exactly we were. Well, this man was sitting next to us and I could tell during the conversation that he was interested in what we were saying. He jumped into our conversation and told us in some broken English that the stop we were looking for hadn't arrived yet. He asked if we didn't mind, could we tell him what language we were speaking before we switched to English. We said Spanish, and he seemed satisfied with the answer. He said, "I make chimney man" which I quickly corrected (must be my inner English teacher) to be that he is a chimney man, ahem, worker.

Something like this, minus the hat

Normally, it seems that the Czech people that speak English work in higher paying jobs than the chimney sector. This made me think about how this man knew English...perhaps he learned it in school, perhaps he needs to speak it with his customers, or perhaps he has an interest in English and has managed to pick up some of the language himself. I feel bad for him though - it seems that he is a bit stuck in his job. Is he happy being a chimney man? Can he work in another job if he wants to? He speaks some English, so could he move to an English-speaking country if he wanted to, to work? I assume that being a chimney man does not pay very well, and I ask myself what options he has in his life.

All of which makes me grateful for the options that I have in my life, for the fact that I have flexibility in where I live and in what I do. Who knows, maybe he is happy "making chimney man" in his life and wouldn't trade it for all the jobs in English in the world. I shouldn't push my thoughts into his head. His head is not mine, and after all, we probably think differently.

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