Essential Workers in the Time of COVID-19 Deserve Sincere Thanks


essential workersThe whole COVID-19 pandemic has turned many of our daily lives upside down. We’ve had to adapt to changes in just about everything, including the way we “9 to 5ers” are used to working. Most business operations have had to adjust to major changes in just about every workflow and process over the past few weeks, and my job is of no exception. 

Consistent compliments and kudos have been given – with words such as inspiring, amazing, flexible, brave, and courageous. I work hard, my teammates work hard, and we did accomplish what we were assigned to do on a moment’s notice. And I love the pat on the back as much as the next one, but something about these compliments at this point in time didn’t sit well with me. Kudos for sitting on my butt, safe and sound in my home, as hectic as it was, just didn’t feel right. 

My role in society right now simply pales in comparison to what others are doing.

Our Evident Heroes

There’s no argument that the medical community are heroes – COVID-19 or not. We’d be hard-pressed not to call them superheroes. The dedication to their calling is beyond admirable. There are no words to rightfully express the thanks and respect these individuals deserve. The emotional and physical toll on those on the front lines is unimaginable to the rest of us. Anyone from doctors, nurses, scientists, pharmacists, technicians, and mental health professionals straight to admissions, janitors, and maintenance workers. (And a special shout out to my respiratory therapist sister!).

Teachers and educational teams have stepped up to implement online learning strategies, some in a matter of days. A world unknown to most of them, with very little support. Heroes to us – and heroes to our children for sure.  Law enforcement, fire and rescue services, soldiers and the like, who protect us. Additionally, the selfless many who have come out of retirement or volunteered to travel to New York and other hot spots to merely to help. 

We can all agree on #heroes.   

The Less Traditional Heroes

When society portrays importance and success, you often see business folk in fancy suits, impressive job titles, and oodles of money. In the time of COVID-19, though, very few of the people keeping us safe, fed, healthy, and whole are the ones sitting behind a fancy desk doing the 9 to 5 thing and earning the big bucks. If there’s one positive about this time in history, it is the spotlight on these essential workers. The professions that historically earned less respect (and money) are the very ones that are putting their health at risk serving the public for our health and safety.

Thank you to all grocery store employees – from the cashiers who check us out to the stock room workers who fill up the shelves. 

You might not see the gas station attendant when you fill up your vehicle, but they are there. Tip your hat to them.

Many thanks to hardware stores available for supplies needed for plumbing and heating, electrical items, cleaning supplies, and things of that nature. Give them thanks.

Picking up your medicine from the pharmacy? Our pharmacies play a crucial role in helping patients feel better and get well as quickly as possible.  Dispensing medicine is essential to keep people healthy – or alive. Thank them. 

A huge thanks to the local restaurants, including fast food, for take-out and associated home delivery service staff for preparing meals, meeting us on the curbside, or coming to straight to our homes to keep us nourished. PS: #shoplocal

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night – nor COVID-19 – stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.  Your mail carrier still delivers, and the post office is still open. We thank them. (Shout out to my daddy! He’s retired, but still.).

Even though our cars aren’t being used as often, they can still break – and your auto repair workers will fix them in your time of need. 

To be human is to create garbage. Our sanitation workers are still picking it up. Give them a nod as you see them in your neighborhood.

Essential workers need essential transportation. Hop on a bus or hail a taxi? Thank your driver. 

As much as we stock up on toilet paper and paper towels, more will be manufactured. Come across a factory and warehouse workers – give them thanks.

Where’d those fruits and vegetables in the supermarket come from? As you are picking out your green peppers, give thanks to farmers who continue to grow crops in these unknown times. 

Imagine the pressure on those manufacturing medical equipment and supplies. Kudos to those working on the factories to crank out what our medical community needs to help mankind. 

Thank you to the food manufacturers and their process flow. Workers who receive materials, prepare/cook, pack, or can, label, through warehousing, fulfillment, and distribution.

We are at the helm of our utility workers – electricity, gas, water, cable, and telephone. Please thank these important workers for keeping us whole. 

Thank you to construction folks who leaped in to build out the newly needed medical facilities.

Toilets will still overflow, and sinks will still clog. Don’t fret because a plumber will arrive to clean it all up. Thank them. (Shout out to my brother-in-law!).

Those who jumped in to transition their regular businesses to help, such as a garment industry worker making masks. 

Sending thanks to child care teachers who are caring for the children of these essential workers. 

And the humanity of the folks who continue to help the needy. Thank you to those who work in the food banks and homeless shelters.

Government agencies, such as welfare caseworkers and social workers, who are essential to the well-being of others. (Shout out to my mommy! Also retired.).

Thanking the Essential Workers

By no means is this an all-inclusive list, but what I’d love for us not to forget is that it’s the working people keeping us going during these trying times.

A few weeks ago, we went to Stop & Shop….as we were checking out, I asked the cashier if she needed a drink. Then, of course, in true Melissa fashion, I clarified by saying, “Not THAT type of drink…but like water or something.” She said no, and as we were leaving, she thanked us for asking about her. On our most recent trip to the store, I encouraged my husband to do the same. He asked the cashier if he could buy her a soda or water. She seemed a little shocked but took him up on his offer, and he bought her a soda. 

In a perfect world, many of us would love to give more than just our thanks. And sure, a bottle of soda isn’t much, but showing appreciation, in general, can go a long way.  If we’re not going to recognize and thank them, who will? 

Who is a Hero?

My husband thinks society throws around the word hero too much. I tend to flip-flop on whether I agree with him or not, as I think “hero” is one of those words that has different meanings to different people. Heroes change upon circumstances.  And maybe we’re all heroes at a particular time in our lives and to certain people. 

But during the COVID-19 pandemic? We are not all heroes. We cannot all be heroes. These folks who are keeping us whole, though? We need them, we count on them, look to them for help – all while sacrificing their own selves a bit?  It sounds like the qualities of a hero.

These essential workers are heroes now. And it’s time to extend our sincere thanks.

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Melissa is a Bronx native who moved to Westchester County after she and her high school sweetheart got hitched in 1997. She and her husband live in Mount Kisco with their son Corey (2004) and daughter Mia (2007). Melissa spent many years working in Human Resources and currently works in enrollment and marketing for a child care organization. Melissa is a two-time survivor of Postpartum OCD. She initially became interested in writing to raise awareness for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders but has discovered that writing is a newfound aspect of her life that she thoroughly enjoys. Melissa is excited to write with the Westchester County Mom team and hopes you’ll enjoy her stories of the trials and tribulations of a born-n-raised city girl raising teenagers growing up here in Westchester.