It’s natural, I guess, for the media to celebrate the stars ― the genius inventors, the builders, the visionaries whose names light up their headlines. Reporters beat the bushes to spot them ― the software entrepreneurs, the high-rise developers, the aspiring leaders who attract applause for their vast though ephemeral visions.
Perhaps someday, one of their much-ballyhooed smartphone apps or retail complexes or earth-shaking theories will change your life― and mine ― in some small and tangible way for the better. Or not. Today, though, let’s take a minute to appreciate our real-life peers who actually do make a tangible difference … even though too often we fail to notice.
I’m talking about hard-working neighbors who get up every morning ― hold your applause! ― to do their best to keep our community running. Because they respect what they do, our days run more smoothly. Our quality of life is better for their efforts, even if no magazine will ever put them on its cover. Because they do what they do so well, we can afford the thoughtless luxury of taking them for granted.
While the few who invent and build and discover are (rightly) lionized as Big Deals, most everyone else simply carries on without comment. Their contributions to our community are too familiar, too ordinary, too predictable to make the headlines.
Yet think about it: Pretty much everything that goes right around here, day after day after day, is due to men and women who trudge off to the same old unheralded jobs … and care enough to do them very well.
Here’s saluting you, everyday heroes! No academy will nominate you for glittering awards. You’re never asked for your autograph. The paparazzi don’t spare you a second look, and those television “sharks” aren’t going to pay big bucks to buy your brainstorms.
You likely won’t win a Pulitzer or Nobel or hit Fortune’s list of America’s richest or reach the Baseball Hall of Fame. But still, you write on, tinker on, put in a good day’s work or knock that plumbing problem right out of the ballpark, even if the applause is predictably paltry.
And then there are those who play essential roles so commonplace that we barely see them at all.
I’m thinking of the people who pick up recycling at the curb and patch the potholes that vex us. They accomplish all the bank deposits, the dry cleaning and the drive-up orders to which we seldom give a second thought. What about the folks who deliver our daily mail … or, for that matter, our pizzas and newspapers?
Take a moment to marvel with me at the checker-outers at Hornbacher’s who manage to move the line smoothly forward at 5 o’clock … the harried but ever-smiling servers at the Village Inn who deliver exactly what we order for lunch, placating the cranky crush of hungry, rushed customers … the tired teachers who help your kiddos collect backpacks and jackets at the end of a busy day.
I’m thinking, in particular, of two special women who’ve impressed me of late.
First, “bravo” to the kind, patient groomer at Wags ‘n’ Whiskers who cares for our elderly yapdoodle Molly. Now, dog groomers are seldom nominated for golden statuettes. If I had one, I’d award it to her for taking enormous pains with our timid, anxious little auntie last week, even as the old girl quivered and squealed in fright. Eventually, she asked us to return Moll the next morning to finish the process of shearing away a winter’s worth of overgrown curls after she’d had a calming night’s sleep. Despite all the trauma and trouble and at least triple the time of a typical grooming, she still told us ― and Molly ― “come again.”
And here’s to the retail clerks who juggle vague questions, coupons and ever-changing sales without losing their grip on their good humor. I’m thinking of you, women of Herberger’s!
When I piled up my loot Saturday ― a sloppy pile of six 3-for-1 pillows, Rose Days bargains and a clearance-sale trophy or two ― I pulled out the usual handful of crumpled offers and coupons, half of them expired, to be decoded, compared and applied. The wonder woman at the counter, who’d been standing on her feet all day, patiently calculated alternate combinations and determined my best path forward … all without so much as rolling her eyes.
From today forward, I’m renewing my vow to open my eyes to the real stars who turn in epic cameos every day among the minor dramas of my life. Once-in-a-lifetime achievements are nice enough, I suppose ― but our everyday heroes deserve the real applause.