A heart-warming video profiling a woman who has been cleaning the Nanjing Metro for 13 years has become a mini sensation on the Internet, while at the same time providing an interesting insight into the operation of the transit system that last year carried 1 billion passengers.
The video’s subject, Ms. Yang Yuegao, has worked her way up the metro cleaning department to her present position as Head of Cleaning at Maigaoqiao station, the northern terminus of Nanjing Metro Line 1. Yang has worked for the metro ever since it first opened, in 2005.
In addition to the role of simply cleaning, which Yang says she enjoys very much, she speaks fondly of some of the additional aspects to the job, those likely not listed in her contract of employment. Such include waking up passengers who have fallen asleep, safe in the knowledge that theirs is the last stop, or chasing after passengers who have accidentally left personal belongings behind when alighting the train.
While we have all seen the cleaners hard at work, few of us perhaps give great thought to the military-like precision with which the operation is carried out; the trains that run to the minute need be cleaned to the minute too. From the second a train stops in Maigaoqiao station, Yang and her crew have precisely 3 minutes to make the train spotless before passengers can board again and the train depart, with one member of the crew assigned to each carriage.
Since the metro banned food and drink in July, 2014, pressure on the cleaning crews has been greatly reduced. Yang says that people are on the whole very tidy, leaving behind very few drink bottles or food packaging, while some can actually be very thoughtful.
“There was a time when we were taking the rubbish bags downstairs to be emptied and a little girl asked if she could help us. I told her, ‘No No, there’s no need. It’s very dirty!’ That warmed my heart tremendously.”
The video, which can be seen here, is a coproduction of the Nanjing Metro and news portal Longhoo.