Seen any late­ly? They’re right in front of you every day — the best exam­ples I can give are the peo­ple who so cheer­ful­ly take care of your babies in their day­care and the peo­ple who cheer­ful­ly serve you at your neigh­bour­hood cof­fee shop. That’s me and my husband! 

I’ll agree that we’re paid slight­ly above min­i­mum wage, between $8 and $10 an hour if we’re lucky, how­ev­er, what you don’t see is how very hard the work is and how bad­ly you and/or our boss­es might be treat­ing us! Surprised?

Have you seen the film “The Help”? Or read the book? I sug­gest you do so; for­get that you are look­ing at black actors play­ing maids from the south in the 1950’s and fast for­ward to 2012 and think how hard those peo­ple, you take for grant­ed, work each day. The peo­ple you, and your chil­dren, depend upon each day and what high stan­dards we maintain.

Each of these jobs requires con­sid­er­able skill — most of you could­n’t ever do them! In the case of your babies you either choose not to do it or are so over­stretched in oth­er ways that you need to keep your job. But in the case of your barista you prob­a­bly think it’s beneath you. With­out our skill set, born of our ded­i­ca­tion to excel­lence (because we’re from a gen­er­a­tion before you and you don’t know that we’ve pos­si­bly come upon hard times in recent years), nei­ther your babies nor your cof­fee would be liv­ing up to your expectations.

I thought about this today. We are now a one car fam­i­ly and since I’ve recent­ly giv­en up my job car­ing for your babies — bad treat­ment by boss and one col­league, no respect, and poor pay for effort and respon­si­bil­i­ty expend­ed – on a rainy day like today I can pick up my hard­work­ing barista hus­band from his eight-hour shift. 

As I sat and wait­ed I watched him wipe down tables and sweep floors just before his shift end­ed. I found it painful to watch this man (now approach­ing 70 years of age but still pas­sion­ate about sell­ing cof­fee to you!), who has worked hard for his fam­i­ly his whole life, hav­ing to sweep floors. A job he took, after he recov­ered from a ter­ri­ble med­ical ordeal and from which he is still legal­ly dis­abled, sim­ply to ensure that I had med­ical insurance.

I will agree that for both of us our work has had some good points: I am as pas­sion­ate about the care I give to babies and young chil­dren as my hus­band is about sell­ing cof­fee. My work shows in the children’s excel­lent devel­op­ment. I was for­tu­nate to learn from one or two col­leagues and have the grat­i­fi­ca­tion of teach­ing two oth­ers and watch the babies they cared for grow so beautifully.

My hus­band is pas­sion­ate about cof­fee and is for­tu­nate to work in the store in the lob­by of the hos­pi­tal that saved his life – he meets so many won­der­ful hos­pi­tal staff mem­bers dur­ing his work hours and for the most part he has fun with his colleagues.

Our home and our edu­ca­tion and our race heav­i­ly dis­guise our slave status! 

At your service!