Our society values letters. The ABC kind- Ph.D., M.D. J.D. MFA, BA, RN, MSW. These are called post-nominal initials, ones that follow a name and indicate the individual holds an academic degree, accreditation, office, or military decoration.
I, too, confess to having a credential bias. People with initials bedecking their names tend to enjoy community respect, dignity, and quite often money.
We see those initials at work during this Corona crisis as RNs and MDs are on the front lines fighting to keep people alive. Ph.Ds are spending hours in their labs developing tests and antidotes to this plague. We are utterly grateful to these professionals risking their lives and even the lives of family members fighting on our behalf.
But consider all those people for whom the alphabet merely spells out their names. John, Beth, Sammy, Rayshawn. They don’t have extra letters, periods, or commas embellishing their names. I’ve been thinking of these initial-less people with much fondness of late. These people are also on the front lines. They are the grocery store clerks, the trash collectors, the landscapers, and delivery personnel.
Sometimes these are the only people I see during a given day spent sequestered in my home. I have the luxury of working from home. My income does not have to cease because I’m afraid to leave the confines of my casa.
I, like many others, have started waving to our garbage collectors, acknowledging their work to make my life easier. I feel like saying “Namaste” as I bow thanking check-out clerks for their service.
I guess that is one of my big eye openers during this shelter in place time. How invisible many of these essential workers have been to us all these years. I hope this sentiment is a by-product of this incarceration. I’m hoping henceforth we, as a society, will continue to honor these now visible heroes.