Custodians, Grocery Clerks, & Hourly Workers Are the Real Heroes Now

The real American heroes now are the members of the working class doing their jobs despite coronavirus.

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It is not hyperbole to say that the world is panicking over the coronavirus pandemic. And given the evidence of exponential growth of those affected, and sadly killed by, COVID-19, the grave concern is warranted. The White House has issued guidelines that strongly recommend social distancing and avoiding contact with others. As a result, many Americans are working from home, eating at home, and watching non-stop news reports featuring politicians and cable news pundits of all parties taking on heroic poses. But the real heroes amidst this outbreak aren't elected officials, vocal CEOs, or cable news hosts and anchors keeping citizens in the know. The fabric of our society, especially now, is comprised of working class individuals who do not have the option to work from home, who cannot afford to skip work, and who continue to put their own lives at risk for the greater good.

Take, for example, custodians and janitors. Every public place has to be cleaner than ever before. Can the custodians and janitors afford to take time off to avoid getting sick? In many cases, no. They are the ones strapping on gloves and protective wear, literally in the ditches of cleanliness to help society stay healthy. Same with the sanitation workers who keep trash and recyclables from piling up on America's curbs.

On Thursday morning, a custodian in Michigan tweeted the following in response to philanthropist Bill Plute's tweet to workers in need of funds with the hashtag #SaveWorkers:

#SaveWorkers began trending nationwide on Twitter with many desperate for some extra money in these dire times. But there's been another, less expected effect of these tweets. Soon, this custodian was receiving hundreds of appreciation messages from those recognizing all of their hard work and the risks they're taking.

And tweets began pouring in for other workers in similar situations, like grocery store clerks.

Many Americans, especially those living in urban areas, are limiting their public outings to trips to grocery stores to stock up on supplies. The employees who check them out, who restock shelves, who deal with panicked customers, and who prepare all other goods that allow people to cook their meals now that all restaurants are closed, they are the real heroes.

Of course, this very important part of the national workforce doesn't have the option of being able to work from home. But that doesn't make their dedication and service of the greater good any less important or worthy of appreciation and gratitude. Too many Americans take these jobs for granted, but as we see in these times of need, they are in fact critical.

And lest we forget the health care workers: nurses, doctors, and administrators showing up to work early, staying late, isolating themselves from family members, all to deal with those who are showing coronavirus symptoms and those who are so stressed out that they are gravely concerned about their own or their loved one's well-being.

And police officers, firefighters, and military service members (especially National Guard volunteers) continue to be the backbone of our civilization, even as it starts to wobble a bit due to COVID-19.

Yes, their jobs require them to put themselves in the direct "line of fire" when society most needs them. And yet, we tend to take so many of these heroes for granted.

While America struggles with the impact of coronavirus, let's hope that one good thing that comes from all of this is an increased appreciation for the working class individuals who show up and do their jobs, often times, with very little to show for it. They are the real heroes right now.

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