Image by Mick Haupt

THE ONES WE FORGOT TO THANK

Alexandra Palaiologou

The recent pandemic has been a good opportunity for all of us to take a step back and rethink about our values, both as individuals and as a society. We have started to appreciate the work of world leaders who put all their efforts into handling a complex, unprecedented situation. We have started to show respect for doctors and medical staff, who risk their lives in order to protect our loved ones. We have even started to realize how important the work of employees in pharmacies and supermarkets is for our daily needs. Yet, there is a group of people who are never looked at with respect and appreciation, even though they are always contributing significantly to our community. I am talking about garbagemen: those people who ensure that the street outside our house will be clean in the morning. 
If it were not for them, a lot of things would be different. The neighborhoods would be messy and full of garbage, the air would smell badly and it would be impossible for trees to grow around all the disposed items. Consequently, many health issues would arise, as the risk of getting infected due to a contaminated bag of garbage would be high, not only for humans, but also for our pets and for the animals that live in the streets. Especially during this challenging period for our health, garbagemen’s work is crucial.
Yet, those people seem to be invisible to us. They are rarely - if ever - mentioned on TV or the press and they are never the subject of our conversations. The problem is that we take their work for granted, as we have never experienced their absence, while at the same time we do not pay attention to their presence. These days, garbagemen are fighting their own battle, striving to keep our streets clean despite the health risks involved in their job. They do this while their wages are constantly getting lower. With a low wage, it is a serious struggle for working individuals to sustain themselves, yet these people manage to go to work every morning with a smile on their faces, despite being aware that their contribution to our community will be underappreciated.
So, how do we make up for all those times that we looked down on garbagemen? The answer is simple: first, we need to recognize their work. Then, we need to spread the word, give the people around us some food for thought concerning this topic. Finally, we need to defend them within our community and make sure that our local governors reward them adequately for their work. Hopefully, in the future, we will no longer forget to thank the garbagemen.