“Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”J.R.R. Tolkien
The last few weeks have brought varying trials for all of us. I feel blessed that my tribulations have been small compared to many. However, as we attempt to sell our house and close on another house, and older home in the country, I have found myself under a lot of stress. The biggest stress occurred last week when a rather severe foundation issue was discovered in the home we are buying. We had a matter of days to figure out the cause and extent of the damage. I was worried that during this “shutdown” I would have difficulty getting any workers out to the house. Thankfully, I discovered these manual laborers are considered “essential”. I have been interacting with more plumbers, foundations experts, and septic guys than I ever thought possible – and each one is more heroic than the last. In a week of difficulty – my burden has been lifted by these men. Essential seems the perfect description.
They come – despite the pandemic looming large; they don’t give excuses, even when justified. For me, their arrival is akin to a knight in shining armour – arriving to slay the dragon Slab Leak. They have all kept their distance, waving instead of shaking my hand, considerate of the time and circumstance. But they get to work quickly and don’t complain that they have to be “out” while everyone else is “in”. I have been so impressed by the respectful and compassionate way they have all treated me – a frantic woman often with her children in tow. They always sufficiently dumb-down the diagnosis while ensuring that I understand the issues at hand.
During COVID-19 we have seen the “essential” rise to the top. Motherhood and Fatherhood has nowhere to hide with our children ever-present. There are Doctors, Nurses, Hospital Staff, Grocery Store Workers, and Farmers, to name a few. Most of these professions are not considered “prestigious”, their contributions rarely praised. However, my recent experiences, particularly with the often male-dominated fields of manual labor, have illuminated the incalculable importance of these men. Plumbers, for example, rarely get much credit. But Jordan Peterson reminded us, “Plumbers have saved more lives than Doctors , through hygiene.” The “essential men” I have interacted with have been quick to help, knowledagle, competent, and hard-working – the very best of men. They don’t demand praise; they do their jobs with pride – realizing its importance and not caring that the rest of us don’t. I think mothers can learn a lot from the quiet confidence they have in their calling.
As we ponder the many lessons we can learn from this pandemic, I hope we can give this one lesson special consideration – increasing our respect for the unassuming and largely disregarded blue collar workers. They keep our society functioning; they are on the frontlines of civilization. In a time when it often seems there is little to be thankful for, stuck inside our homes, let’s discover those things we take for granted. Next time we flush a toilet, or turn on a light, or stay warm and dry despite the rain, or eat fresh produce – let’s mentally thank those that make these not-so-simple conveniences possible, and that humbly save us when they may fail. I am so glad that during this time, we can give them the title they deserve – “Essential”.
Let’s find a way to thank someone “essential” today.
“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” John W. Gardner