what’s this?

worker cleaning a sidewalk


Before I left on vacation, I tried to visualize a theme that might work where we were going and would be something I could fit in while relaxing and doing vacation activities. So even before we left, I had a pretty clear idea of what I was looking for: a resort worker doing something menial while being passed by tourists who were paying no

It seemed to me that something that would work into a sort of parable would be the contrast between these hard-working staff of the resort and the tourists. At the place we are staying, there are probably hundreds of people working to make everything smooth and comfy. Except for the bartenders, who are everyone’s friend, all the workers are largely invisible and the majority of tourists seem to ignore them entirely. All the while they do their work with a level of pride and thoroughness that are hard to find in America. They are friendly when you acknowledge them and help you with a smile.

There could be many levels of interpretation for this. The main one is class. Another might be the Western attitude toward the people of the developing world. On the surface, perhaps, it isn’t too deep or profound a photo, but peeling apart the layers reveals more complexity than is at first apparent. There is the level of the worldwide resort chain, providing reliable and clean accommodations; but who knows what their politics is, perhaps we’re supporting the worst sort of oppression without knowing it. Then there are the people who can afford to stay at a place like this. I have a certain amount of inner conflict about this. And finally are the local folks, who are mainly just trying to build a life for themselves and an easy way is to cater to the coddled bourgeois of the more developed world.

In this photo, which I only found on the last morning we were there, a worker is cleaning bird poop off the tile of the walkway, while a couple walk past him.


About Ron Wiecki

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