This is the week when editorial writers, commentators and others in the know make extensive lists. Worst- and best-dressed celebrities. Biggest news stories of the year and the decade. Best and worst movies and movie lines of the year and decade. Lists of New Year’s resolutions that are made and broken.
Rarely seen are lists of the local unsung heroes and, in my best Brooklynese, just good people. Here is my version, a thank-you to the people we see every day but fail to recognize. For my readers outside of Middle America, you have the same good people; just the names are different.
From 1984 until 1987, I co-owned a restaurant in Denver, so I know the problems of this most difficult of businesses. I want to thank those who work the dreaded graveyard shift for their time and dedication, specifically the crew at the Steak and Shake on Clark Lane. At 1:30 a.m., they stick to their routine while laughing and talking with tired and sometimes rude customers.
Then there is Cici’s Restaurant on East Broadway where the food is cheap and the employees are great. Jesika, manager extraordinaire, and her crew remain upbeat and courteous despite customers who are sometimes foul and inconsiderate.
Food servers receive subpoverty wages, minimum tips and few thank-yous. These are people to emulate, not dismiss. Now, if Cici’s could only make a “real” pizza and Steak and Shake real chili.
Let us not forget those who work retail. They come to work every day to shelve products and assist ungrateful and vulgar customers. Poor wages, bad bosses and nasty customers are par for the course. I worked retail from age 7 until a few years ago and know too well that keeping a smile on one’s face takes a herculean effort. You are the best and deserve a massive raise. Now.
2009 was, for me, the Year of the Cop, having “chance” meetings with the local, county and state gendarmes. They put their lives on the line every day and rarely receive a real thank you. For the most part, they are pleasant, polite, professional and just doing their job. Chief Ken Burton, Sheriff Dwayne Carey and Colonel James Keathley, you have great people working for you. Thanks.
Not to forget our firefighters, paid and volunteer. I have watched them in action three times in 2009, on Interstate 70, Highway 63 and at a house fire. They risk their lives working in the most dangerous of conditions to save lives and protect property. Columbia Fire Department Chief William Markgraf and Boone County Fire District board chairman John Gordon have great people. We all need to celebrate our firefighters' everyday bravery.
Horace Mann, the “Father of American Education,” would be appalled if he knew how our teachers and schools are treated today. For reasons unknown, citizens, government and other “holier-than-thou” organizations have vilified our public schools, teachers and staff. In 2007, Missouri ranked 46th in wages for teachers with an average salary of about $39,000, behind Iowa (38), Kansas (37), Arkansas (32) and Illinois (6). The average professional athlete is making $93,740. According to Forbes, Tiger Woods had a reported income of more than $110 million in 2009 working “part-time.” What is wrong with this picture?
Two groups are badly under-praised. First, are those who volunteer their services so those less fortunate can eat, sleep and stay healthy.
Then there are those who stop, at their own risk, to help others — not to seek reward but because it is the right thing to do. Too many drive by the accident or do not step in when they see a child being abused.
These altruistic men, women and children are truly god-like.
Thank you to the Missourian, the professional staff and the students who work so hard to get this paper out. And to the volunteer commentators who write every week to keep you informed and to start the conversation.
Finally, to our readers in Columbia and around the world who take the time to read and offer comments — good, bad and sometimes funny — on what we say. Without you, the fourth estate would have died a long time ago. Thanks, one and all.
Have a safe, prosperous and wonderful New Year.
David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Read his blog at InkandVoice.wordpress.com. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.