Unsung heroes

Gerrie Beachall

The fight against Covid-19 has many heroes. Some have professional responsibilities and associations that give them an obvious role and the support of many who are thankful for their dedication to their chosen profession. We have heard a lot from nurses, doctors and teachers to name a few. Their prominent position in the fight against COVID-19 and their vocal associations keeps them in the forefront of our thoughts.

Others are conspicuous in our society; these are the business owners who are doing their best to adapt rapidly to a new marketplace and are letting the public know as loudly as possible that they are still open for business. They too deserve the support and recognition they are receiving. They often have lobby groups that support them and help them to get their message out. We should all do our best to #shoplocal and #supportlocal whenever we can.

There are also a huge number of unsung heroes. These individuals are working diligently outside the spotlight. They may or may not have a formal association that speaks on their behalf. Their jobs often occur after hours when the usual daily business of life has gone quiet. They do not have the option of working from home to keep themselves and their families safe.

These include our dedicated workers who are quietly and thoroughly cleaning all of the environments that are remaining open to serve the public. They include custodial workers that service private businesses and public facilities such as schools, hospitals, and administrative buildings to name a few. They have been at work throughout the pandemic maintaining our environments, so they are safe for others to use. They have had to adapt many of their protocols rapidly to ensure they are keeping us safe. They have experienced a rapid increase in the heavy labour involved in moving furniture and reorganizing spaces to accommodate the changing public health orders. All of this important work is occurring silently and quickly so that when we show up to these facilities, they appear to have transformed to our needs magically.

There are also the support staff in various organizations from cooks and servers, ward clerks to orderlies, health care aides, teacher’s aides grocery clerks, truck drivers and the administrative team who keep all of the systems running smoothly to name a few. They have had to adapt their environments and their procedures to accommodate the new Covid-19 requirements. They are often the first line of defense for the rest of the team. In addition to the daily tasks they already have, they are adding the necessary cleaning of all surfaces in between customers. They have had to implement and learn new protocols and technology in a very short time frame in order to serve the public. Unfortunately, they are sometimes receiving the brunt of people’s frustration. I have been told stories of people berating them for some perceived injustice they have experienced or some new rule or screening requirement that they are not in agreement with. I know of administrative staff who have left their shift crying because they are being treated poorly by the public or by the people they are trying to support at work. None of us are any more important than anyone else in the fight against Covid-19. I would like to let them know that even though we rarely acknowledge them publicly, we appreciate what they are doing to keep our world running.

There are also the vast majority of Manitobans who are diligently following the public health orders. The people you see every day using the hand sanitizers that are available, wearing masks and maintaining the appropriate distance in the grocery stores or facilities used by the public and staying home when they are not required to be out and about. These rules may seem inconvenient to some of us, but they are our main line of defense to stem the tide of the pandemic. We all too often hear how people are misdirecting their anger and frustration at each other. We are truly all in this together and helping each other will ultimately help us get to the other side of the pandemic while preserving our self-respect and our respect for each other. 

I tip my hat to them all and encourage you whenever you are in the presence of these hard-working dedicated people, say Thank You to them for keeping us all safe. I can guarantee you that they will appreciate your kind words as they press on with the rest of us, it might even give them hope in an ever-changing world.

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