Profiles – The Plant Man

18 Aug

I have two plants in my office.  I have had two plants in my office for the last three years.  Neither of them has died.

This is actually a fairly unusual situation, as amaryllis bulbs aside, I tend to kill plants. My travel schedule, a tendency to over-water or under-water and the artificial light  all contribute to this conundrum.

Why, may you ask have I not killed these plants?

The Plant Man

Every few days there is an individual who comes to my office early in the morning with a bucket of water.  I do not know his name, but he will smile and nod at me to enter, then quietly water, prune and observe the status of my plants.  Obviously he is an expert at his job – coming even when I am not there to doctor my plants.

He is not my company’s employee because he does not have a door card, I do not know if he comes with the building, but occasionally I will let him in.  The other day I asked why he didn’t have our maintenance woman’s phone number so she could let him in.  I don’t think he understood my chinese because he just smiled and nodded. 

It is strange to know that for almost the last three years I have seen this individual at least once or twice a week and I know hardly anything about him.  Who knows what his life is like – his career aspirations, his family, his dreams?  All I know is that my plants are still alive.

Having the green in my office is calming and hopefully increases the oxygen level.  Thank goodness for the Plant Man.


12 Responses to “Profiles – The Plant Man”

  1. expatriababy August 18, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    The plant man! That just made me think of how there used to be a man who stood by the entrance of my apartment complex selling potted plants. Which meant that I could buy a plant for a few RMB and not have to lugg it across town. I miss that level of connivence. (And greenness, since I too am a notorious plant murderer.)

    • gkm2011 August 19, 2011 at 6:26 am #

      You were lucky in your apartment complex – I have a man who sells cut flowers sometimes by the supermarket, but actual potted plants are few and far between. The greenness in my office is very refreshing – the apartment, not so much.

  2. valerie August 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

    Do you remember when we went to AZ and I got a small pot with 4 cactus plants (or do I say cactii) at the airport on the way back to Chicago? Those suckers are still alive and are HUGE. I’ve already repotted them to a larger pot once and I need to do it again as they are so heavy they are falling over the side of the pot. I also have a bamboo plant next to my cactus plant and I always smile when I think that I’ve been able to keep all the plants alive so long given their different watering needs 🙂 Although the bamboo has suffered more than the cactus over the years. Have a good day!

    • gkm2011 August 19, 2011 at 6:23 am #

      Yes – I remember the cactus plants – goodness, I can’t believe they are still alive! I am truly impressed. You don’t need a plant man 🙂

  3. Emily Messinger August 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    I understand the benefit of plants. i work very hard to keep mine a live and have been very happy with what I have been able to do in the yard this year. Flowers and plants can always put a smile on my face. I know you enjoy them too!

  4. gkm2011 September 26, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Reblogged this on 中国 Jumble and commented:

    Over two years ago I wrote the post below on the man who came to care for the plants in my office. Two years later he is still there – even though I don’t have an office anymore because we went to an open floor plan over a year ago. We still do have plants all over the floor though and so his services are needed more than ever.
    Last week I finally asked him his name – Mr. Lin. It is a fitting name as the character for Lin is two trees put together. We talked about how he had been there a very long time and he said he would leave me his name card on my desk the next time he was on our floor.
    The reason I asked his name?
    Because I won’t be seeing him anymore. I have decided to take a big step and change jobs. I am sad to think that it took the thought of not seeing him to get to know him a little better.
    And so the plant man continues – and now I have his phone number.
    Do you have a “plant man” in your life?

  5. Every Day Adventures in Asia September 26, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Trust you to ‘sneak’ your big news on the job change in this way! 🙂

    Yes I’ve got more than a few ‘Plant Men’ in my life… folks you see often, passing nod and smile, limited interaction but a pleasant part of everyday life.

    I was at a security conference a few years ago and Mumbai’s Commissioner of Police was they keynote speaker. I remember when he asked for a show of hands of people who know the name and a little bit about the circumstances of their building ‘watch man’ or ‘security guards’.

    With great chagrin and embarrassment only a few put up their hands. Even I only knew the name of 2 not all 3 of the regular guys and definitely not the temporary replacement who would come from time to time.

    Today in our smaller building I know both the day and night watchman and where the day one lives, have met his wife and young son. Do I know his name? Yes. Do I know the names of his family members? No but we do smile and nod and continue to enjoy our respective lives…

    All the best with your next adventure!!

    • gkm2011 September 28, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

      Thanks! I used to know my doormen in Chicago really well, so much so when I came back five years later they still recognized me and wished me well. In China, a little harder, but small steps!

  6. expatlingo September 26, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Wow, congrats on the new job! I look forward to hearing both what your new job is and where you are going on holiday with Li soon!

    • gkm2011 September 28, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

      Should be soon. We are actually already enjoying, hence I expect my next post to be delayed. Sometimes living life is more important than writing about it! Thanks for the congrats on the job too.


  1. The first quarter review « 中国 Jumble - October 16, 2011

    […] commented – Profiles – The Plant Man hit a nerve with readers about trying to keep something green in our environment and the struggle […]

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