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Pousse-Pousse Man

June 27, 2017

I have a funny story to tell.  It has no deep meaning or reflections.  It’s just…a little funny…and a little sad…and I cried with laughter as I tried to recount it for you…my laughter definitely inhibited some of my story-telling abilities.  You’ll just have to draw humor from picturing yourself in the circumstances.

A pousse-pousse (rhymes with moose-moose) is a cart with two wheels in the middle and a bar on one or two ends.  They are a normal mode of transporting goods in this city.  They “drive” wherever they want, even in the middle of the road, pushed by however many people are required.  You can find them containing anything from brand new furniture to an unbelievable number of 50kg bags of cement to entire cars to everyday trash.

For us, every Friday, a man comes with his pousse-pousse to pick up our trash and leaves that we haven’t burned.  He likely takes it, sorts it, finds useful things to resell or reuse and deposits the rest.  In this city of somewhere around 15 million, there is no city-wide waste system.  But we do what we can.  Our pousse-pousseur comes on time and seems resourceful.  Once he sent his wife to get a bunch of large, dried sticks from a bush we had cut down.  She bundled them and took them home for cooking fuel, on her head, of course.

Last Friday, the kids were playing outside when I heard a knock at the gate.  I was expecting a friend, but when no one came to the door a few minutes later, I stepped out on the porch to see who it had been.  I saw the kids gathered around the pousse-pousse while our guard and the pousse-pousseur gathered the leaves and trash bags.  I noticed the kids seemed really intent and excited about something in there.  Not knowing what in the world it could be, I called out to them.

“Mom!  We found something so cool!”

Noooooo, I cringed inwardly.  A trash bin from who knows where filled with who knows what.  Nooooooo, you did NOT find something cool.

“Don’t touch it!” I shouted.

“Axel already has it!”

Nooooooooooo!!!  “What did he find?”


Let me explain, because this toy was certainly special.  It was missing a leg AND an arm.  It was also missing paint from his nose and parts of his face.  It was made of cheap plastic and definitely not a licensed Superman toy.  The pousse-pousser told the kids his cape had fallen off.  I’m skeptical he ever had one.

I said fine, but don’t let Piper have it.  Oh, too late?

Fine, but don’t bring it in the house.

Ok, bring it in the house, but wash him when you wash your hands.

Obviously, my standards are not what they used to be.

The afternoon went by and I had long forgotten about Superman, when we had the kids come inside and shower.  Axel decided Superman needed to shower, too.  Excellent idea, I thought.  At that point, his other leg had fallen off.  No big deal.

Later, it was time to head out to our neighborhood restaurant with a friend to relax after a busy week and Axel now wanted to bring Superman along.  Since this restaurant has a reputation for slow service, I allowed it.  After all, he had been cleaned twice, surely he was now presentable for dinner.

During the time waiting for our food, Axel dropped Superman on the ground (the restaurant is outdoors) and that is when the magic really happened.  His chest LIT UP RED!

Guys, you have never seen three adults and three kids (Piper got to stay home since she was already in bed) so shocked in your life.  There he was, lying on the ground, with a red light beaming from his chest as if he had just landed from whatever planet Superman is from.  We were in awe.  He had showed up as trash, been through two showers, and NOW HE LIGHTS UP!

Clearly, this toy was thrown out before his time.

SupermanToy - 1


SupermanToy - 2

Piper is especially curious


Now legless, Axel had just discovered his newest talent – lighting up! But his finger is covering the magical red beam. (Photo Credit: Steven Fountain)

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