Thank you very much (HLD 153)

22 Aug 2020

Way back in history – you know, 2019 and earlier – the only group of people who required applause to justify their work were artists. No other workers got or needed that sort of encouragement.

After major disasters or events, emergency service personnel got their window in the sun of public affirmation. For a brief amount of time, anyway.

When we lived in the US we realised that military service personnel were always acknowledged. They were given perks like skipping to the front of any queue and are always verbally thanked for their service.

I remember way back when, years ago when I was young, rubbish collection people were often left a small gift at Christmas to thank them for dealing with your rubbish, but that’s gone by the wayside – possibly around the time that automated bin-lifting-and-emptying trucks came into existence.

But generally speaking (pre 2020) people do their job, and they get paid for doing their job. It’s a job, not a service.

As Australians we don’t fully comprehend the American (and other places too to be fair) tipping tradition. The cost of the service is included in the price charged in Australian shops. And yes our wait staff don’t get paid an awful lot either, but what they get paid is what they get paid. In Australia, acknowledging very good service is usually done by a smile and a thank you, or more importantly a good review on a relevant online forum.

But checkout chicks/chooks/roosters didn’t get applause, or cleaners, or cleaners or engineers or delivery drivers.

In this time of pandemic, we have really started to acknowledge that other occupations deserve recognition too – frontline workers whether they be doctors, nurses, cops, firies or teachers.

Supermarket workers enjoyed their glory of being labelled essential workers – but admiration for their selfless efforts were a little muted in the panic buying stage. Supermarket workers may be essential but if they stood in the way of people wanting to buy 300 toilet rolls, watch out!

Teachers and day care staff were acknowledged as essential too – mainly by stressed parents who realised that being the custodian of their child’s daily education routine, quite frankly, has knobs on it.

Medical workers are literally applauded around the world for their work that puts them, and their families, at risk. This is a good thing, but I’m sure a good nights sleep and not having to deal with lonely dying patients would be appreciated more.

Does public affirmation make a difference in your job? Would applause make a difference?

Or should we all just make a pact to acknowledge good service from wherever it’s received, as often as we criticise bad service?

Thank you for reading this. I appreciate it.

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