An Ode to Cafeteria Workers and the Night Custodians

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Business related websites are full of advice and notifications and admonitions about how to be successful and what to do in this disruptive world. To my eye, there is not much content that explores the concept of giving thanks or how to treat others.  Business site topics range from artificial intelligence to how to manage a meeting; from block chain implications to tips on resumes. An entire body of work exists that details all the things not to do, as in, “5 Ways to Kill a Good Interview!!!” All good and helpful, and I am proud to be an influencer who provides such content.  We know from the advice sites how to be a team player and that our colleagues are critical in helping us be more successful, or not.

But wait; there is a cadre of people and actions that are rarely discussed.  In a de facto way, they are dismissed in all the advice but they can make or break our day. In the work world, they are often underappreciated.

People who show up, do their jobs, and are a part of our lives constantly surround us, and yet we often don’t see them. We interact with them every day and they make life just a little bit better for us. We might nod to them while we are talking on the phone. We might glance up at them while we are hitting the REPLY button. These are the people who never really pop up as an unsung hero. The unsung hero spots are often reserved for teachers and first responders who certainly deserve it. But there are other people who help us or make our day and we often take them for granted. They too, are unsung heroes but are not ones that we typically thank for being a part of our workplace lives.

They are all around us. They are in the parking lots taking your keys. They are in your office fixing your lights. They push the elevator buttons for us. They provide security. They may or may not be on social media but their attention is not on LinkedIn pieces on how to better network. When the debate about raising the minimum wage rages, these are the people who will be see a bump in pay – or not. These are the people who are working incredibly hard and can make our day by showing the slight gesture of a kindness.

So as the school year begins, there is a particular group that I would like to call out for our attention – the cafeteria workers. You know who I am talking about. Like the cable guy, the cafeteria ladies (and men) bear a designation that conjures up a unique image. We love them because they know our names, they give us food, and they almost always have a smile. They are efficient and they enjoy and are proud of their work. They love their work and can bring a little sunshine into a day with an oatmeal raisin cookie. Although cafeteria workers are a metaphor for underappreciated workers, they are flag bearers for that group of people who make our day.

At a time when debates are raging about critical topics at work, I hope we can all take a moment out of our day to say thank you. So, thank you cafeteria workers and night custodians and all those who work hard to make everyone’s work just a little better. You all should have more recognition.

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