The forgotten

Published August 3, 2020, 11:17 PM

by Jullie Y. Daza


There’s an army of the forgotten out there helping us with their services to keep life as normal as thinkable in these extraordinary times.

As we acknowledge the sacrifices of our medical and police frontliners, so let’s take a moment to thank the people hidden behind the myriad tasks they perform heartily for our convenience, comfort, and safety. Things we cannot do ourselves are things they do for us, without waiting for a thank-you or a tip.

It was the middle of the morning when I opened the gate to check how much sunlight was available for the day’s sunbath. Just then a garbage truck roared by, with a slim young man hanging on at its rear end. Though he looked like an undernourished teenager, his actions were quick and nimble, suggesting he was enthusiastic about his work (that few others would touch with a ten-ft pole). Before the truck turned the corner, he had jumped down – perhaps to pick up someone’s trash – and that was when I saw he had no mask and no gloves on, his feet were bare and his T-shirt was not a uniform. How could the local government allow this boy to work at such a hazardous job without a minimum of protection from germs and the coronavirus? Yet we expect them to do their job dutifully. (The only time we learn their names is when someone knocks for a donation for the burial of So-and-So, garbage collector.)

I wondered how the boy was clothed when he reported for work and where he would take a shower before going home to his family.

It’s a dirty world but our street sweepers do not complain. Not all peso bills are clean and pristine, but as long as there’s an invisible entity at work behind an ATM box, we’re lucky to see money spitting out so efficiently when we need it. Always dependable and most times highly courteous, the security guards who take our temperature and remind us to keep distance; the drivers who deliver meds to the corner store in the middle of the night for tomorrow’s urgent dose; the bayad center that pays our bills instead of us going where angels fear to tread. Little people. Major responsibilities. Many thanks.