A salute to grocery clerks, pizza delivery drivers and other unsung heroes of the age of plague

Working With Risk editorial by Stephen Whitworth

Politicians, employers and common citizens are singing the praises of the frontline workers who show up to do their jobs while a virus rages across an unprepared globe. It’s not just the obvious nurses and care workers getting the metaphorical bouquets — it’s the less glamorous but still, as it turns out, very, very important grocery clerks, delivery drivers and other blue-collar (to use a dated and classist term) workers receiving love and appreciation.*

I only wish 2005 Steve could’ve seen this.

A lot of things pissed off 15-Years-Ago Whitworth. There was the Bush administration running amok starting fake wars with real body counts. There were dummies arguing climate change was a socialist hoax. There were talk shows filled with uptight (allegedly) heterosexual American busybodies whining that same-sex marriage was somehow unfair to them (???). There were gun nuts, anti-abortion dipshits and creationist wingnuts chirping verbal pollution all over the airwaves and Internet…

Okay, so it wasn’t all that different. But one thing I DO recall being peeved about is how a strike at a Saskatchewan grocery store inflamed the province’s union-haters (and at least one newspaper columnist), and how the whole ugly scene made me wonder how the place that brought universal health care, human rights codes and arts boards to Canada could today be filled with so many mean people who want workers to shut up and take less money.

I remember the strike at that Regina grocery store. I remember how at times it seemed like my whole city seemed to be hating on picketing workers. While Tim Horton’s-bound cars clogged up the east side of South Albert St. without a hint of side-eye, picketing workers were lashed out at with scorn and venom for “disrupting traffic”.

Back then, I thought workers deserved fair wages and respect. I still do. I guess all it took was a plague to bring more people over to the light side.

Planet S — and our awesome readers — will always salute the everyday heroism of grocery store workers, along with retail clerks, restaurant servers and everyone with a humble job who keeps things going smoothly in a crazy world. You guys are superstars, and don’t let right-wing, worker-bashing newspaper columnists or talk radio hosts tell you different. Coronavirus or no coronavirus.

* Yes, yes, we are aware that there are still mean jerks, but for the purposes of this article we are ignoring them.