They Were Always There…

I’m sitting here in the “lounge” of a co-working space in Singapore while one of my students takes a make-up exam.

The lounge is actually just a table with six chairs, along with a multifunction coffee machine, a cabinet full of cups, a sink, and not surprisingly, a bottle of hand sanitizer.

It’s a somewhat busy spot, particularly at this time of the morning, with people grabbing a cup of coffee to bring back to their office.

But one guy keeps coming back.

The cleaner.

He keeps coming back to put used coffee cups into the dishwasher, make sure that there are adequate supplies of tea and sugar, and perhaps most importantly to keep the countertop clean.

I’m sure the guy has been doing the same job for a while, but perhaps people are noticing him for the first time. They are more grateful for the work that he does, realizing the important role he plays in helping to keep the place clean as part of avoiding the spread of germs and viruses.

I’ve begun to take notice of such individuals everywhere I go, at subway stations, at local coffee shops, at malls, at our apartment complex.

I’m sure these workers have always been there, quietly doing their job, while the rest of us either ignored or took for granted the work that they were doing. You may think that the photo above is a recent one, showing the response on the transit system in Singapore to the coronavirus. But it’s actually from 2015. As I say, these workers have always been around.

But now with the panic that is spreading because of the coronavirus, hopefully the public will have more respect for the people that are doing such vital work.

And maybe we will realize that every job is critical in the grand scheme of things, and we should be grateful and express our appreciation to those whose work is often ignored.

So a big thank you to those of you who are on the frontline in combating this virus by helping to keep our workspaces and public places clean. Your work is greatly appreciated, and vital in helping to get the situation under control.

The guy just came back.

I made sure to thank him this time…

*image from AsiaOne

29 thoughts on “They Were Always There…

  1. Great post, Jim! We, too often, do not show appreciation for those who do the hard work to keep our own lives clicking along so smoothly. I am sure that the thanks they get is very much appreciated when we take the time to notice them and tell them. It is good to look beyond ourselves sometimes! And that is something you are good at.


    1. thanks, Brad! These people have become among the most critical in our defense against the virus, so they are certainly worthy of our gratitude!


  2. Much respect and appreciation for those keeping our work and public places clean, maintained, sanitized and healthy for us to enjoy. Wonderful acknowledgement. Thanks, Jim


    1. thanks, Michael. they are doing work that we usually take for granted. but now we realize why such work is important. too bad it took a crisis to do so…


      1. Always seems that way, Jim. Imagine how we’d feel if waste management workers went on strike and our streets were filled with trash and rotting garbage.


  3. What a great post Jim! It’s easy to overlook frontline workers and take them for granted. Your noticing and bringing it to our attention means we will now notice it to. I have great appreciation for the work so many are doing to help keep us all safe. Stay safe and enjoy your time there.


  4. As we are becoming more and more aware, our world is interconnected, and we are in this situation together.

    While the virus isn’t “officially” in Ohio yet, its presence has been felt. The Arnold Sports Festival has been dramatically cut back on the number of spectators who can attend, closed to certain foreign competitors, turned away the vendors and the usual traffic which comes with it.


    1. that’s a shame, but it looks like most of the competition will still be held. I feel bad for all the athletes who have trained so hard for this and may not be able to compete.


  5. A good reminder to not take everyday jobs by faceless people who we all take for granted… they are our lifeline, first line of defence in many ways and good on you, Jim for thanking him I am sure you made his day…Completely off topic and a while ago now I was waiting maybe for a bus I can’t quite remeber and a common sight here are people who go down the bins…I was watching this man sorting through the bins …When he had finished he walked over to one of the shops where there was an outside tap and proceeded to scrub his hands…I noticed this as many of people who go down bins have dubious hygiene it just surprised me…Have a great weekend 🙂


  6. I totally agree with and have often commented similarly to this: “every job is critical in the grand scheme of things, and we should be grateful and express our appreciation to those whose work is often ignored”. Well done, Jim.


  7. Yes every time we hear a school or doctors’ surgery is having a deep clean I wonder where these extra top notch cleaners are going to come from. But in the meantime the regulars are still doing their usual jobs.


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