If you have checked my Facebook timeline out lately you will have noticed a few pro-union memes centered around snow plow drivers. I post them mostly as hearty hurrah to organizing and public works in general. I would be lying if I said it was not also done to twist the metaphorical knife in the side of the anti-union, government bashing types out there. When it comes right down to it, though, it is important to show these folks how much we appreciate them.
I will not debate the merits and drawbacks of our hero-worship of firefighters, police officers, and military service members. I have written the pros and cons of all that quite a bit already. I may again, but today I want to thank those public service employees we often forget, and sometimes even look down our noses at. The people who clear our roads so me may drive safely on them. The men, and sometimes women, who get up at ungodly hours to commute in horrible conditions, so we can have it a little better. They work long, often monotonous, shifts and we do not show our love for them enough. Indeed, how many of us actually complain when we get “stuck” behind a plow.
It is not just those drivers either. We need send more thanks out to the people who collect our trash, clean our streets, clear our phone and power lines of debris, and make sure we have running water. Public works employees are not terribly well-regarded. They mow the grass in our parks, clear out the garbage, repair our play grounds and courts, and through it all, they do so mostly invisibly.
I think we need to take more time to show how much what they do means to us. Instead of throwing them under the bus in the name of lower property taxes, how about you offer to buy them their coffee when you see them stop at a gas station, or when your garbage men come, offer a plate of cookies (Saran wrapped for later consumption, of course.) Instead of complaining that public works employees are overpaid, maybe consider for a moment how much you would be willing to do their work for, and maybe paying them that. It is dirty, back-breaking, and sometimes dangerous work. To my way of thinking they deserve a holiday, and barring that, a simple “thank you” when we pass them on the street, a street that they keep clear for us.