My late mum was a grafter all of her life. She worked as a shop assistant and a home help. Many may not think these jobs particularly important or prestigious, but I do, and always have done.
I was brought up to respect everyone, value their contribution to society and to make sure I thank them for their service. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way. I have instilled that in my son, too.
I don’t think this is universal, though.
Do you remember the till operator who wasn’t important enough to you to turn off your phone and thank her for serving you? The postie who brought parcels to your door, yet you hardly made eye contact as you took it from him? The receptionist at the hospital you grumbled about because you were told there was a 4-hour wait?
As we enter the latest phase of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, we are witnessing how important everyone’s role is, and it is the folk some of us took for granted who are the backbone of the response.
Our health service staff, from Consultants to cleaners, are at the forefront of dealing with those of us unfortunate enough to contract the virus and experience a severe reaction to it. As well as deploying their skills with the professionalism we expect, they have put their personal circumstances to one side: missing out on seeing their families, working long arduous shifts and risking their own health for the sake of ours.
The battle against COVID-19, though, is not just a medical one. We all have a part to play. Where possible, we should remain at home, or at least stay well away from other people to minimise the risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
To do this simple thing, however, we rely on retail staff, posties and other delivery workers, logistic companies, and frontline staff in government services to enable us to get on with staying at home.
Is it really too much to ask to follow the official advice? And while you’re at it, appreciate those many people who remain exposed to the risks of COVID-19.
“Please” and “thank you” go even further during these difficult times.
Oh, and don’t stop saying that when we come out the other end.