Thanking the unsung heroes all around us

Carole Brier is guest columnist for The Post and Courier.

There are millions of unsung heroes. People who work every day and every shift while expecting no more reward than their well-earned paychecks.

Unsung heroes do the physically demanding, tedious, dirty, dangerous, dreary, monotonous and uninspiring but critical jobs that keep our economy chugging along and our lives on an even keel. Often their paychecks don’t match their skill sets and hover around the minimum wage.

Space does not allow an all-inclusive list, but here are a few examples.

Seven days a week, newspaper carriers get bundles of newsprint from a central location, slip each paper into a plastic sleeve and finish their routes before dawn. After the deliveries are made, many go to work at their “day” jobs.

If we had to haul our rubbish to the dump, our streets would rapidly fill with mountains of garbage. Bugs, snakes, rats and mice would then breed exponentially. Sanitary haulers should be recognized for the vital services they provide in all kinds of conditions and in every type of weather. Remember those scenes of refuse piling up in New York City a few years ago?

Consider please: Hotel, motel, hospital, institutional, housekeeping and maintenance staffs. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, masons, house painters, roof layers, waitstaff, landscapers, teacher’s assistants, day-care workers, utility linemen, sewage plant operators, mechanics, dock workers, truck drivers, industrial assemblers, jack-hammer operators, general laborers, front-desk employees, window-washers, telephone surveyors and customer service representatives. Where would we be without them?

While many of us may be grilling hamburgers and hotdogs on Labor Day, a young mother will be at her second job as a cashier at the corner store. She will spend the holiday ringing up bags of ice and six-packs of beer.

Clerical workers, secretaries, and administrative assistants don’t know what to expect when they go to work.

Church and school secretaries are expected to be patient, tolerant, serene and open-minded. Their work day requires that they be a little saintlier than the rest of us. Having the memory of an elephant is mandatory.

How can we not acknowledge ambulance drivers, emergency medical personnel and medical records keepers? Don’t forget the certified nurse’s assistants, hospital orderlies, operating room technicians, supply clerks and dental hygienists.

Grocery store staff is expected to foresee every customer’s wish and know where each item the business sells is located. Display clerks carefully arrange merchandise to catch the shopper’s eyes and interest.

An extra pat on the back goes to everyone who works anywhere during the graveyard shift of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Let’s hear it for bank tellers, file clerks, accounting clerks, and deli-counter clerks. Also, customer service personnel, veterinary assistants, animal groomers, carpet and tile layers, short-order cooks, pest controllers, the kid who mows the grass in late July, gardeners, busboys, launderers, hairdressers, barbers, dry cleaners, rug shampooers and hairdressers — just to name a few.

Thank you, firemen, policemen and military personnel for your courage and dedication. We respect and admire each of you. We are indebted and in awe of your families because of their selflessness and valor. Your loved ones live with the fear and knowledge that one you might not come home.

This is a short, simple list that is far from complete. Let’s salute everyone who makes our lives safer, healthier, easier and more rewarding.

Labor Day is the first Monday in September. On that day, let us acknowledge every worker, from Warren Buffett to Wal-Mart greeters.

Let’s raise a glass of sweet tea to the millions of unheralded employees who won’t get a double-digit pay raise or a golden parachute but still show up for work.

Carole Brier and her friends at The ARK (Adult Respite Care) in Summerville made a list of all the unsung heroes they could think of, and that list was her inspiration for this column. Bier and her husband, Carey, live in Summerville. She volunteers at The ARK Club on Mondays and is a member of the Summerville Writers Guild.