Are Grocery Workers Heroes?
The other night I heard something on the news that struck me. It was in an interview with a gentleman who managed a large grocery store. He said that every day he tells his workers they are heroes because they’re on the front lines of keeping us safe and healthy during this crisis. Next, he gave thanks for and honored the healthcare workers and spoke of the crucial role they play. Then he repeated that not only his employees – but everyone who works in a food store – is a hero. Are grocery workers really heroes? I believe they are.
The thought hadn’t entered my mind before that interview. But think about it. These people are putting their health – and those of their families – at risk for us. If you’ve been in a store recently, you know social distancing is impossible. So all of us try to get in and out as quickly as we can. But the employees are there for hours, many working overtime. On my last trip to the market, one worker said she clocked 60 hours that week. And all that time she was surrounded by people… the very thing we’re told and required to avoid. Yet she and so many others tirelessly toil so we can put food on our tables, keep our homes clean, and wash our hands for 20 seconds or more. I think that’s pretty heroic.
Some Scriptures came to mind as I pondered this. One was I Corinthians 12. It’s about spiritual gifts, which are given to those who receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They are for the common good or benefit of all (I Cor 12:7) and each is significant. Some are more visible (teaching, leadership, pastor), while others are behind the scenes (mercy, service, administration), but all are valuable and necessary. I think we can apply this concept beyond the church and especially to our current situation. Prior to the pandemic, we probably never thought twice about the individual who stocks the shelves or runs the cash register. Or what would happen if they chose not to do it. But in this climate, if such workers decide the risk is too great and refuse to go to work, the rest of us are in big trouble. Then we would truly know and understand the crucial role they play in society.
Then there’s Philippians 2:4: Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (NIV) Pretty good description of what these heroes are doing.
What can we learn from all this? Let’s appreciate those who are making these sacrifices – not just in our thoughts but thank them for their vital service. Also, we should consider the role we can play in this unsettling season filled with unknowns and so many who need help. I’m not saying we should put ourselves in danger or ignore mandated restrictions. But for those working from home, do your best. Don’t slack off since no one is watching. For individuals who have extra time on their hands, use it constructively by getting your home in order or finishing a project. And we can all reach out to those around us. Whether friend or family member, neighbor or coworker. Social distancing should only be in regards to physical contact, not emotional or spiritual encouragement. How long does it take to text someone to see how they’re doing or ask how we can pray for them? How easy would it be to touch base with a friend as we’re heading to the store to ask if we can pick up something for them? Or call an elderly neighbor and drop a meal on their porch?
Let’s be wise and intentional about keeping ourselves and loved ones safe. But not only look out for our own interests. And remember the ones who are putting themselves at risk day after day to keep things going. I’m not saying we’re all heroes like the grocery and healthcare workers, truckers, first responders, and mail carriers. But we can make a difference in the lives of those around us and help carry their burdens in these troubled times.
Just some things I’m trying to put into practice as we battle Covid-19 along the way.