Across Continents

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Raking it in

Some people are fortunate enough to grow up knowing exactly what they want to do in life. Others are less lucky. They know what they’ll be doing. I’d found a group of workers for whom I was fairly sure it wasn’t a vocation they’d ever wanted to aspire to. Working conditions were unenviable. Intense heat in the summer, not even a modicum of shade. Bitter cold in the winter. Sandstorms. Gale force winds. No shelter.

Their job? Raking gravel. In the Gobi desert. Plenty of scope I suppose. There’s a lot of it. And a lot of them. Strictly speaking, they confine themselves to the roadsides, the embankments. Which still leaves quite a bit. And a great job they do. Neat borders, as pristine as the carriageway they run alongside.

You might imagine they’d be an unmotivated lot. But no. Quite the reverse. Save for their punctual lunch breaks, never saw them slack, no matter how ferocious the wind or intense the heat. Perhaps just grateful for the opportunity to work. And, almost without exception, women. I’d no aspirations to follow them, but theirs was an admirable work ethic.

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