Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Salute night-time workers who keep our world going

ON September 3, 1802, William Wordsworth stood on Westminster Bridge and was bowled over by the beauty of a sleeping city:

“Earth has not anything to show more fair” his poem begins and ends “Dear God! the very houses seem asleep; and all that mighty heart is lying still.”

It’s a wonderful evocation of a great city at rest.

That said, had Wordsworth been out and about at the crack of dawn a little more often he might have realised that the mighty heart of London, Reading, Oxford or even Henley does not lie still, even if it beats somewhat more quietly.

There is work going on, there are people around, and because I have had reason lately to be travelling much earlier even than Wordsworth, I want to sing here the praises of those who are working while poets, ministers of religion and other pillars of society are usually sleeping the sleep of the justly weary.

Some professions, especially those involved in education, medicine or healthcare generally, receive lots of right and richly deserved public praise — the nightworkers much less. Time to redress the balance just a little.

So here’s to the bin-men/women whose cheery removal of commercial waste marks the start of my day so often.

Without their efforts disease and bloated rodents would flourish on our streets and squalor would reign.

Then the cleaners who either late at night or early in the morning make our workplaces and sometimes our homes bearable.

Let’s not forget the drivers (mostly vans and lorries) who get food, letters and parcels and other vital stuff to the right destination during the night. And then the warehouse and shop workers and shelf-stackers who ensure that everything is where we need it when we need it.

Remember the engineers and mechanics who watch over the systems which bring us all the above and also heat, light, functioning water and sewage systems and internet/telephone

And let’s add the printers and others who make it possible for you to read this!

These people don’t usually think of themselves as heroes. Very few of them are paid like heroes. In a quiet and unseen way, they are doing heroic work

While most of us sleep they are going about the good and godly business of keeping chaos at bay and maintaining the order and cleanliness which make our lives work.

Yes, godly! God, according to Genesis, is the one who brought order to chaos and humanity is here to share the work.

If they all stopped working for just one week we would realise how close we live to chaos as systems broke down, rubbish was not removed and the shelves where we forage were emptied and not restocked.

We are all beneficiaries of the work of people like these, so be considerate to your cleaners, give a cheery wave to those lorry drivers and give thanks for those early morning binmen and women as you turn over and try to get back to sleep.

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