“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”
– Maya Angelou, American Author
With Labor Day just behind us, let’s be sure to celebrate the workers who make our lives better. It’s easy to talk about bad news, celebrity drama, or the headlines of the business world. Let’s spend a little time talking about who puts in the work….including each of us.
Sure, we see stories of rich and famous people in the news. Some seem untouchable, like CEOs living in the world of venture capital, getting rich running companies that busily lose money, like Tesla, Uber and Lyft.
Perhaps their leaders will eventually see a turnaround that was all worth it, like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is $109 billion despite the company losing money for 14 years after it went public.
Some fall from grace, like Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who went from a net worth of $4.5 billion, to zero, over fraud charges. Others are ousted, like the heads of Nissan or American Apparel, but only after living a life with wealth most can’t imagine.
These names come up easily. But do you know a good teacher, sheriff, engineer, statistician or electrician?
Labor Day is a good reminder to remember them and be grateful for them making your life easier. Who can you think of that does what they do really well?
I can think of the business owner and contractor who worked outside in 100-degree heat, alongside his guys, taking plywood off our roof.
The insulation guys who suited up in full Tyvek in the attic, sucking out old insulation in said heat.
The TV repair guys who fixed our relatively new TV after three other folks just shrugged and said they couldn’t.
My sixth-grade music teacher who dripped cool by playing “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” on his guitar for us. My college professor who kept me from dropping out from the stress. The nurse who showed my daughter needles don’t hurt if they do it right. The lawyer who gets signatures on important paperwork on a Sunday in the hospital if needed.
The bookkeeper who knows where every receipt is and balances the books even if she has to pry information out of documentation-challenged folks. The managers who can calm everyone down when they are freaking out. The veterinarian who has been around for 30 years and has seen everything and knows who to refer you to for odd cases.
The person in the store who actually knows where everything is when you ask for something.
The truck drivers who sit in traffic, day in and day out, so we can all get our stuff. The crew leads who fix things after someone screws up while apologizing for mistakes they didn’t cause.
The instructors who teach our kids art, music, robotics, or sports. The babysitters who come on short notice and stay late, with a smile on their face. The caregivers who deal with messes, screaming, medications and frayed nerves. The car mechanic who can tell you whether air-cooled or water-cooled cars are more reliable.
The interns who show up on time and come up with solutions you didn’t even think of. The nonprofit board members who lend their time and expertise to a worthy cause for free. The parents who drive carpool so you don’t have to.
The list is endless. I’m newly grateful for the guys and gals who wash cars after recently realizing I do a worse job and take longer doing it myself.
My various neighbors deliver rail cars, manage libraries, inspect trucks, teach kids, work for the sanitation department, handle appraisals, run restaurants, and more. Each heads out each morning and makes the day better for others.
Not everyone is going to be Warren Buffet or Meg Whitman or a professional basketball player or tech startup wonder. However, each of us, almost every day, can use our own special skills to make someone’s life easier.
Whether it is inventing, researching, teaching, making, creating, building, thinking, managing, assisting, or just showing up on time and doing a little beyond what you are asked, if you are filling a need, that is a noble thing.
Thank you for your work.
Maria Gutzeit is a chemical engineer, business owner, elected official, and mom living in Santa Clarita. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays and rotates among several local Democrats.