Kerry, one of the great gifts my dad gave me was his example of being polite and respectful to anyone, but most especially to those who take care of the crap jobs that nobody else wants. How easy it is to overlook the millions who ensure that toilets are cleaned, beds are made, the lawn is mowed, our grands get care, and who are surrounded by other’s refuse, filth and sloppiness but make it all cleaner for the rest of us. Lots of folks are finding out just how important those people are — those who are willing to do work that Americans are far too arrogant to do anymore (because, after all, you deserve a break today, right?). Yet all such work is honorable, for it is in the service of others. We reward dishonest bankers yet spit on or look down at those who polish our floors. I’d like to polish a few floors with Wells Fargo execs myself, speaking of dishonest bankers. While I have bad days like everyone else, I’d rather take that out on the thieves and bad actors who take it out on everyone else by ripping them off. Those who work in silence (often because their language skills aren’t the best) can’t fight back. Most Americans have no clue that a great many of those folks- first wave immigrants from all over- were doctors, lawyers, architects and people of wealth, education and standing. They gave that up to get their kids to America, ending up running dry cleaners and donut shops and demeaning themselves for their kids’ sakes. Most Americans have no clue who is serving them coffee, because they aren’t interested enough to ask. Many are of an age, and their skills are so specific, that learning English is too much of a task, then learning highly specific terminology in their field in English is monumentally difficult. There isn’t enough time, money is of the essence, so they do what they can with limited English skills. And people- the lowest of the low- look down on them simply because they haven’t mastered the language. Back in their countries, they were often at the top of society- until pogroms, genocide, hate crimes or war drove them out. Oh, the stories I’ve heard. It most certainly changes how we see people. Sometimes the people we overlook have the most remarkable tales of courage, loss, despair and rising from the ashes. That is, if anyone will ask, and be patient enough to listen.

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