In #9 of this series, I wrote about people working in the service industry–a type of job I worked in for about 20 years–who used to be considered “unskilled” but were now considered “essential” in the wake of the pandemic. I titled the piece “Heroes” for various reasons, but most of all as a sign of respect. I respect people who do a job no one else is willing to do, even as I condemn the conditions we live under that force them to do that job in the first place. But a lot of people use the term “hero” as lip service, as illuminated in this pic I found online:
That meme speaks the truth. And whenever I’ve come across workers in the service industry rejecting that label in the last week or so, I’ve had to wonder whether my post was a small (incredibly small, infinitesimally small–no delusions of importance here) part of the problem. And even though I think my intentions were good, I should have done a better job of emphasizing that a lot of the people I was celebrating don’t have any choice. That’s an important distinction to make, and I should have made it.