Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Volunteer mirror cleaner declines gifts from officials

By Ho Yu-hua and Dennis Xie  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Chang Hsiu-hsiung, a 77-year-old resident of New Taipei City’s Jhonghe District, is pictured in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of the New Taipei City Department of Transportation

Over the past eight years, 77-year-old volunteer Chang Hsiu-hsiung (張秀雄) has cleaned an estimated 150,000 convex traffic mirrors.

In 2016, the New Taipei City resident’s polishing won him a special contribution award from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ Golden Way Award program.

Officials from the New Taipei City Department of Transportation visited Chang at his home in Jhonghe District (中和) on Monday last week — the eve of the Double-Ninth Festival, a day on which Taiwanese often show respect to older people — to thank him again with gifts.

However, Chang declined, saying: “I am just doing the right thing and I will continue until the day I cannot.”

Chang worked in the construction industry until his retirement. A family trip about 10 years ago made him embark on his mirror-cleaning journey.

On the trip, he and his family witnessed a car accident, Chang said, adding that a convex traffic mirror covered in spiderwebs might have contributed to the crash.

Now, Chang wakes up at 3am or 4am to start his day of cleaning traffic mirrors, carrying more than 20 cleaning cloths and a foldable ladder on his scooter. He even cleans the mirrors at the entrances of parking garages.

“My mood brightens when I see them polished,” Chang said.

Even though he was chased and bitten by four or five stray dogs after falling off his scooter and once broke several ribs falling from his ladder, he said that all the effort is worth it as long as those out on the roads have a safe trip home.

Chang’s benevolent acts have made New Taipei City, Taipei and Taoyuan safer, as well as the Beiyi Highway (北宜公路), the northern coast and Yangmingshan (陽明山), department Director Chung Ming-shih (鍾鳴時) said.

The New Taipei City Government each year allocates money toward the maintenance of the city’s 12,499 convex traffic mirrors, but Chang’s contribution has made him a much-respected “keeper of road-turn safety,” Chung said.

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