A big rig rolled past our family bike caravan. The driver delighted our kids by laying on his air horn as we waved to him.
With four kids under age ten in quarantine, we seek and savor all our outdoor moments. Our family bike rides these days make us look at the traffic all around us in a new way. This weekend we particularly noticed the delivery vans and freight trucks on the roads–all busy hauling packages and pallets full of food, toilet paper, and medical supplies.
This global pandemic has created heartache, but it has also revealed new heroes. Amid the public health and economic pain inflicted by this virus, we also see it chipping away at old stereotypes and dismantling our chronic underappreciation of service roles in our economy. The men and women cleaning hospital rooms, stocking grocery shelves, and navigating delivery routes are no longer assumed, but esteemed.
“In 39 years, I don’t recall ever being thanked for just being a truck driver before,” shared Allen Boyd about driving for Walmart during the pandemic. “I appreciate being thanked for a change. I hope that it’s not just during this time and when it goes away, we’re back to just being in everybody’s way again.”
Though truck driving is one of the most common occupations in the United States, it is not generally an occupation held in high esteem. Until now. Just how would we survive without them? This has always been true, of course. But now we feel it. Whether it’s Amazon, Grubhub, Prime Trailer or USPS–these men and women make widespread quarantine and flattening the curve possible.
God designed us to work. Before sin entered the world and marred both how we work and how we view work, God made it for us. Creating value through our own labor is core to what it means to be human.
“Right now I feel proud,” shared Jorge Chavez, a truck driver. “I feel good because somehow we’re helping the community to make sure that they get whatever they need in their homes.”
For the last two decades, my older brother, Matthew, has served as a cashier’s assistant at Costco. While I’ve always believed in the dignity and importance of his work, this pandemic certainly magnified it. While many of us hunker down, Matthew ventures out. He takes pride in his work and he should. Matthew, his colleagues, and the 3 million grocery store workers in the US make it possible for the rest of us to withdraw–at significant risk to themselves.
We will come out of this peril with new scars, but also with new heroes. The teenager stocking the soup and pasta aisle isn’t in our way. He diminishes his safety to make our daily meals possible. The woman mopping the bank floors and teller counters isn’t an afterthought. She ensures we’re all healthy and safe. The man driving the truck on the freeway isn’t clogging the passing lane. He keeps our society working. May we never again forget it.
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This post was published April 28, 2020
Chris Horst is the chief advancement officer at HOPE International, an international microfinance organization that helps people escape poverty. His development staff raise $16 million annually to support HOPE’s mission. He loves to write, having been published in The Denver Post and Christianity Today and co-authored Mission Drift, Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing, and Rooting for Rivals with Peter Greer. In addition to his role at HOPE, he serves on the board of the Mile High WorkShop.