(Originally published in Eternity)
Clean Toilets Save Lives
A caretaker helped save my life. We were driving to Melbourne from Sydney via an overnight stop with friends in Wagga. Sometime after we crossed into Victoria we stopped at a roadside rest area – because we should every two hours, because we had three children in the car, and because I was tired.
Three minutes into our stop we started talking about the rest area. There was space to park, there was shade, but also flowers, and a lawn. There were toilets – clean. And there was a 15-minute walk with a wooden footpath and handrail included. Here was evidence of good work – a part of creation ordered and redeemed, kept beautiful and made useful.
While we talked the caretaker arrived in his ute. He got out and started tidying around the bins, cutting the edge of the lawn and cleaning the toilets. I walked over to comment and say thank you for the place and his work. He didn’t look up, but replied, ‘If we make them nice, more people will stop’.
More evidence of good work. Yes it was good because he restored one part of creation. But more than that – it was good because he blessed people and their relationships. Like the hairdresser who helps me get a job, or the mechanic who enables me to visit my parents or the chef who gives me an evening of conversation with friends.
He left just before we did, and I wondered how many sites he was able to look after in a day and how many lives he had saved.