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Updated: May 14, 2014 17:43 IST

I am… S.S. Kannan - Telephone cleaner

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S.S. Kannan has been working as a telephone cleaner for more than two and a half decades. Photo: T. Saravanan
The Hindu
S.S. Kannan has been working as a telephone cleaner for more than two and a half decades. Photo: T. Saravanan

In a way I prevent people from falling ill as I keep germs away from their telephone handsets. When I see people holding the handset mouthpiece closer to their mouth, I ask them to shun that habit. I clean the dust first and then use anti-septic solution to clean the germs deposited in the handsets. Finally, I apply perfume to prevent bad smell.

I have been doing this work for more than two and a half decades. I discontinued my studies when I was in fifth standard and went to work in a shop that sold beds. I mostly ran errands. Then, I was promoted to the position of a salesman. There was a mismatch between the nature of work and the salary I got, so I quit. I was just 16 at that time. Left with no work, I struggled to have even one square meal a day.

Then I joined a phone repair clinic, where they also did some maintenance work. I learnt this art there. On an average I clean 60 to 65 phone handsets a day. I charge Rs.10 a month for a phone, for which I offer three free services. Though it may look an easy job from outside, extreme care is needed while cleaning the handsets as there are sensitive parts.

At 48, I am happy with what I am. I have two sons and a daughter. My eldest son is doing his under graduation in information technology while my younger son is in 12th Standard and my daughter has just written her S.S.L.C. examination. My wife supports me financially as she works in the packaging section of a grocery shop.

The advent of mobile phones in the market is a serious threat to my job as number of landline handset users have come down drastically. But my customer base is intact and now they call me to clean their mobile phone handsets too.

At the end of the day, I have no regrets in life as I can proudly say that mine is a nine to five job!

(A fortnightly column on men and women who Madurai what it is)

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