million years ago, when I was in my early 20’s, I had a job working at a local casino. I tell people that it was the best and worst job I ever had. Best because we were all young and having money for the first time in our lives. We would work, party, sleep, and repeat. It was also the worst job because you spent your entire shift standing on your feet, getting cigarette smoke blown in your face and having to deal with… humans.
Over the course of my five year tenure there, I learned two things. The first is that people are the absolute worst, and the second is that everyone should have a service job at least once in their life.
Jump ahead a million years to the five-alarm dumpster fire that is 2020 and we find ourselves relying on those same service folks. The little people, it turns out, hold a very special purpose in the middle of the pandemic – they are the ones that keep this world hanging on. Sure, it’s by a thread, but they’re doing the job.
The grocery store checker. The McDonald’s kid at the drive-thru. The pizza delivery guy. The USPS mail carrier. These are the glue of society right now. Forget about us schmucks in rolling office chairs and Zoom meetings. The folks who have to wear masks for 12 hours a day. The folks who have to put up with the Karens, and the complainers. Those are the real heroes right now.
There’s nothing quite like being treated like you’re part of the furniture, and that’s what these folks have been treated like for years. Take this time to say thank you to your bus driver. Or take time to give a QuikTrip gift card to your donut shop owner. These are the folks who not only have to show up to work, but they also have to show up to work and deal with the public who, as you might have noticed, has suddenly gone crazy.
Entitlement. Venom. Resistance. Whatever you want to call it, people who are served by the service industry suddenly feel like they’re entitled to more than their Uber drive or their Fed Ex package. They seem to feel like they have to be a part of the debate or the arbiter of the discussion. No. You need to pay the $5 for a cheeseburger, say thank you, and leave the store. We don’t need you coming in and arguing with the manager because she wants you to put on a mask. These folks (most of them just kids) only want you to take your fries and drive off without incident.
This is why absolutely everyone needs to have a service job in their life. There’s something so humbling about taking a tongue lashing from some self-important Chad arguing that you haven’t deposited his $20 check properly. Perhaps being on the other side might cause you to think for a split-second before asking for a manager or writing a strongly-worded review on Facebook.
The latest group to take it in the shorts are the postal workers. Shame on any of us who have grumbled under our breath because you might’ve missed a day of mail, or your mail carrier was a few hours late. How important is the service they provide to you and to the country now? Hearing stories about how veterans get their prescriptions and young mothers get their formula really melts your heart and breaks it a little too when you think about how their infrastructure is being dismantled for no other reason than they carry the mail in rain and snow and dark of night.
If COVID teaches us nothing else (and, judging from Facebook, it’s not teaching us much), it needs to change the way we treat the little people. The folks who make the country go. The grocery store sacker. The youth basketball referee. The ticket taker at the stadium. Maybe when we get through this we not only take our hot dogs and leave, but also give them a hearty “thank you.”
(Chris Kamler always remembers the little people on Twitter, where you can find him as @TheFakeNed)