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Just A Guy

There’s this guy who works in my area. There’s not much to notice about him. He’s kinda hunched over. I think he might have scoliosis like my uncle had. A closer look at his face, and you see his thick glasses. His tongue seems to hang out a bit. There’s some medical term for that, I think. “Darn it Jim! I’m a machine operator, not a doctor!”

The base contracts with a company that hires folks with “disabilities”. I’m more than “okay” with it. I think it’s great, but not for some virtue-signaling reasons. He does his job well. He seems to take pride in his work. I really appreciate that.

He pushes his cleaning cart all over our huge building. Shipyard workers get stuff pretty dirty, and his job is to clean the restrooms. A lot of people working here stop and “shoot the breeze”, but not this guy. He moves like clockwork from restroom to restroom. He always puts up the safety flags, and wet floor signs. He’s a man on a mission. And unlike our white-collar colleagues that are now working from home, he can’t telecommute. So, I guess we have a kinship there.

I sometimes get irritated, because he hits the restroom near me right before I leave. He rarely varies. Often I need to alter my schedule to do my hand washing. But when he’s done we have the tools to make our job safer, like soap and towels. That matters to all of us.

I still remember that one day a few weeks ago. He was walking toward the gate as I was going to cover another shop. There was hardly anyone on base. It was cold, with the wind blowing. He walked up the hill, head-down. At that moment, it really hit me. The importance of him, and others like him simply doing their jobs. Day in, day out. Doing simple things that need to be done.

I’ve kinda wanted to thank him. Let’s be honest, he has a thankless job. But I fear my thanks would come out sort of fake and awkward.
A lot of praise has been heaped upon certain “essential workers”. Less so upon others. I don’t think that’s right.

Well, maybe that guy is actually an aspiring writer, tabbing through various forums in search of tips and inspiration. If you happen to be reading this, Thanks. And keep working like what you do matters. Because it does.
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