Thank you for showing up!

By Janice Manchee

I have a dog who’s older and very excited about the emerging smells as the snow melts. Because he’s older, we only go for two walks each day, and those walks tend to be slow and contemplative. Well, for me. He’s too busy sniffing.

As I’ve walked through the Glebe over the past few weeks, surprised at but now getting used to the Christmas Day-like quiet, I’ve had a lot to contemplate.

Whatever your politics, I think it’s fair to say that our leaders at all levels have been calm and measured in tone, informing us of what needs to be done and why they need us to do it.

But whom I really think about are the frontline workers.

We are very aware of the dangers and stresses faced by those in the healthcare system and by emergency responders. There is still the need to secure and provide sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. Firefighters, paramedics and police officers are out on the street, doing their jobs under even more taxing conditions. All these fellow citizens have exactly the same worries each of us does, but they are showing up for their community.

But there are others who are equally essential and have not let us down.

I was in McKeen Metro last week and thanked a young man stocking a fridge for his work – for being there for us and making sure food is available in our community. He told me I was the only person who had thanked him.

Happily, that situation is changing as I write this, with multiple media outlets acknowledging the importance of previously unsung and all too often underpaid heroes in our food chain.

Everyone working at grocery stores in our community is doing us a solid, not to mention those who grow and produce the food, bring it to our community and deliver it to our homes. Then there’s the restaurant staff cooking for us and arranging delivery and take-out.

Staff at our pharmacies are making sure we have the medication and products we need for our health, and workers at the LCBO and Beer Store are there to help some of us relax, but also to ensure those who depend on their products have what they need.

I had to pick up food for my dog earlier this week and waited while staff set up a pay station outside their front door. They apologized to me for the wait, but what they were actually doing was protecting staff and ensuring that the furry little guy who keeps me smiling could continue doing so.

Bus drivers power up and down Bank Street with taxis and Ubers. My bike will be repaired and ready to go once all the snow’s gone. I heard one story of the owner of Glebe Optical meeting a client at the door to fix their glasses.

I know I’ve forgotten someone who is working hard. Thank you too.

In this challenging time, I try to remember all the people who are showing up to keep you and me healthy, safe and fed – to keep the important things in our lives present and on as much of an even keel as possible. And I am well aware that most of these workers come into the Glebe from somewhere else to support us.

Patty Hajdu, the federal minister of health, said in a recent interview that she hoped this experience would make her a braver politician. She’s seen how quickly and decisively we can respond to problems in crisis; after this passes, she wants to use that knowledge to address the big issues facing us.

Remembering the lessons from this situation is a goal I share. Let’s keep thanking and acknowledging everyone who’s shown up for us, for our friends and neighbours. Let’s not forget who is actually essential in times of crisis and let’s consider how this value should be reflected.

Janice Manchee sings tenor in better times and appreciates the unsung heroes of the neighbourhood.

Appreciation for the City’s garbage collectors   Photo: Liz McKeen

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