A 74-year-old man’s volunteer work won him a special contribution award from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ Golden Way Award program earlier this year.
Chang Hsiu-hsiung (張秀雄) estimates that he has cleaned and polished about 82,000 convex traffic mirrors in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan since starting his project about five years ago.
Chang said the idea of cleaning the mirrors came to him six years ago after he witnessed a car crash while on a trip with his family.
He said he believed the accident occurred because the drivers did not have a clear view of the road, so he decided to make it his life’s goal after retiring from the building industry five years ago.
In the beginning, he spent two hours a day, two to three times a week cleaning convex traffic mirrors near his home in New Taipei City’s Jhonghe District (中和).
However, as time went by, he became more involved and now spends about eight hours a day, 20 days a month cleaning the mirrors, taking time out only on national holidays and rainy days.
His wife passed away and his three children are grown, so he can devote as much time as he wants to his cleaning work, he said, adding that he wakes up at 4am each day to start work.
The former builder keeps notes of the routes and his work progress, he said, adding that he is able to clean the mirrors on each route twice a year.
The Chinese-language media in Taiwan has nicknamed Chang the “traffic mirror Buddha.”
Despite the sense of achievement it brings, Chang said the work can often be dangerous.
One time he was chased on his motorcycle by four or five dogs and was bitten by them after falling off from his vehicle. He broke several ribs after falling from his ladder trying to reach a traffic mirror that was installed higher than usual, and broke more bones in a fall from his motorcycle after the bike slipped on a mossy road.
However, he does not worry about accidents because he thinks the gods must have protected him from greater injuries since he was doing something good, Chang said.
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