One interesting consequence of the pandemic is the way it reversed public images about people who work in the service industries–retail, health-care, maintenance, custodial, repair, and customer service fields. For years, people who worked in these fields were often looked down on or otherwise treated poorly, by either employers, customers, or both. Wages tended to be on the lower end of the scale, with few benefits such as sick-pay or health insurance. Because many of those jobs have either a physical component to them (such as moving heavy items, being on your feet all day, etc.) or a social component (coming in contact with the public means running the risk of colds, etc.) no sick-pay or health insurance is a major problem. Bonuses were unknown.
Then came COVID-19. Suddenly people working in those areas discovered that the media and the public regarded them as heroes. They were doing the same jobs they had always done, but in the eyes of the public the value of those jobs and the people who did them shot upward.
Having worked in the retail field for years, mainly as cashier or sales clerk, I am surprised and pleased at this image change. I am surprised; I never expected it to come about. I am pleased, because it’s long overdue!
Consider that “service industries” are just that–people serving other people, whether the employees are ringing up sales behind a cash register, repairing a car engine, cleaning a bathroom, taking an order over the phone, or bathing a patient. Have you ever noticed people aren’t always nice to be around, even when a person is trying to help them? Sometimes people can be impatient, rude, unkind, or even belligerent.
That’s the reason I believe the people doing the everyday, routine, sometimes dirty work of serving other people deserve special recognition, and why I’m glad they are finally getting it, at least in small part. It’s not easy to be a servant.