‘Traffic mirror Buddha’ cleans traffic mirrors for free

A 74-year-old man has been volunteering his time cleaning traffic mirrors in and near Taipei and has cleaned mirrors 82,000 times in the past five years -- earning him the nickname "traffic mirror Buddha" and soon, a special award.

Chang Hsiu-hsiung (???) wakes up at 4 a.m. each day, hops on his motorcycle, travels to a location in northern Taiwan and starts cleaning the convex traffic mirrors in the area. The routine is repeated the next day in a different location.

Such mirrors are usually found in curved parts or the corners of windy roads and are placed there to prevent collisions.

Over the past five years, he has done this on most days of the month and has cleaned mirrors some 82,000 times in the urban and mountainous areas of Taipei, New Taipei and Taoyuan.

Chang is set to be the recipient of this year's special contribution award under the Golden Way Award issued by

Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

The award honors those who have helped improve the safety, convenience and comfort level of roads, railways and subways for users in Taiwan. The award ceremony is set for Aug. 30 in Taipei.

The soft-spoken Chang said Friday that the thought of cleaning traffic mirrors came to his mind six years ago after he witnessed a car crash while on a trip with his family.

He said he believed the accident had occurred because the drivers did not have a clear view of the road, so he made it his life's goal to clean traffic mirrors after retiring from the building industry five years ago.

Later dubbed the "traffic mirror Buddha" by the local media, Chang said he initially spent only two hours a day, and 2-3 days a week cleaning the convex traffic mirrors near his home in New Taipei's Zhonghe District.

But as time went by, he became increasingly fond of the job, and now spends an average of eight hours a day, and 20 days a month cleaning the mirrors, resting only on holidays and rainy days, said Chang, who has three grown children. His wife has passed away.

The former builder not only prepares his own ladder and wipes, he also keeps notes of the routes and his working progress. He said he is able to clean the traffic mirrors on each route twice a year.

Despite the sense of achievement it brings, Chang said the work is not glamorous and can often be dangerous.

Once, he was chased on his motorcycle by four or five dogs and was bitten by them after falling off from his vehicle. Another time, he fell from his ladder when trying to reach a traffic mirror that was installed high up from the ground, breaking several of his rib bones.

He had also fallen off his motorcycle and broken his bones one time after his motorcycle slipped on a road with moss on it.

But Chang said he does not worry too much about these accidents, adding, optimistically, that the deities must have protected him from greater injuries because he was doing something good.

His biggest hope, he said, is that every driver and pedestrian can have a clear view of the road at every corner.

"When I clean the traffic mirrors, it is like cleaning the mirror in my own heart. When the mirrors shine brightly, it feels like my heart has also been cleaned," Chang said.

He added that he will continue to clean the mirrors until the day he dies and when that day comes, he hopes to leave with a "clean and bright heart."

Source: Focus Taiwan