What with all the special events and sales, the people who are most supposed to be honored on Labor Day are least likely to get the day off. Here are some people I’d like to recognize. They add joy and luxury to my suburban life. May they all be thanked often and paid well, and may we all vote in favor of a higher minimum wage, increased maternity and paternity leave, paid sick leave, and health care for all!
Janitors, streetsweepers, and trash collectors.
They move about almost unnoticed and without them city life would be unbearable. I’ve spent the year in and out of hotels and convention rooms and public attractions and schools and movie theaters and I owe all the men and women who keep these places liveable, and in many case actually spotless, a huge debt.
People who grow coffee and cocoa and tea (and all my other food, of course).
You know why I can have my hot cocoa every morning, and an occasional mocha or frappachino, and five or more cups of tea a day? Because someone somewhere worked their ass off to grow it and pick it and process it and sell it. From the farmer to the barista to the guy who gave me a free iced tea today, thank you.
The people at the grocery store who always say hello.
If I were a grocery store cashier, I would never make eye contact, EVER. But the people at my store always say hello to me, and let little kids help them fill the bags. I’ve seen them cheer up babies and chat patiently with older custormers who pay entirely in change. When my daughter started riding her bike to the store sometimes by herself, they said, “Don’t worry, it’s good to give kids some independance! We all know her! We’ll keep an eye on her!” That’s above and beyond. That’s community.
Daycare workers and preschool teachers.
I have done daycare at the Salem, Oregon YWCA where we took care of any baby over ten weeks old. I ran my own daycare. I’ve worked in preschools. And I’ve been incredibly fortunate in that my daughter was able to attend two wonderful preschools herself. Taking care of other people’s children is hard work. It involves shit and piss and vomit and tears. It involves memorizing 15 different recipies for playdough and an ability to hear the word “lice” without screaming. to the kids I’ve taken care of – I miss you all. And to the people who took care of my kid – THANK YOU!