During this pandemic, we have been thanking the brave medical professionals around the country and the world. They truly do deserve all of our respect and appreciation right now. But there is a whole other group of heroes that I believe is getting overlooked.
Who are these heroes I am talking about? The grocery store employees, those in the food industry, the group home staff that work with people with disabilities, and the truck drivers still making deliveries. The volunteers that are providing breakfast and lunch for kids that can’t get these meals at school because of this pandemic.
These brave people — along with our brave medical workers — don’t have the option to stay home. They have to go to work because so many of us rely on them in our daily lives.
We as a society need them now more than ever. And we need to thank them. Just because they are not doctors taking care of people that have this virus does not mean they aren’t heroes in their own right. They are putting themselves at risk every day because they are essential. They need to show up to work and they do.
How would you get groceries to feed your family if those employees stayed home? How would you buy supplies if a driver hadn’t transported them to the store a few days ago? And how would that child in your community get fed if it weren’t for volunteers providing meals? It’s very easy to take these things for granted, but they’re so vital to our communities being able to function.
To our other heroes during this pandemic: You are not forgotten.
Before this global crisis, society took our essential workers for granted. I am talking about not tipping servers when a lot of them depend on those tips to live. Going into a store that’s nicely cleaned and not acknowledging the cleaning crew that does their job day in and day out. Worse, maybe you make a huge mess but don’t bother to clean it up because you know it’s someone else’s job.
The misconception is that it’s normal to not appreciate these people for what they do. But in reality, when you do these things, like not tipping, leaving a mess, or just not giving a friendly acknowledgment, you’re being disrespectful. Seeing someone as “below” you is never OK. It doesn’t matter if they don’t do the same job you do or don’t get paid as much as you do — you’re taking them for granted.
These essential workers were there for us before and they’re still here for us now — taking on an even bigger role during this pandemic. We need to applaud them for their efforts just like we are for medical professionals right now because they also deserve the spotlight. Moreover, when this is all said and done, we need to start treating our essential workers like everyone else and make sure they are paid enough, have proper health benefits, enough staff, and vacation time.
Next time you see these forgotten heroes, thank them for all they do. I know I will.
To our essential workers:
Thank you. I see you. I appreciate you.