By Andreas Cvetkovic Destounis
One thing I hope will happen as a result of the corona-outbreak is that more and more people will acknowledge the real heroes of our society. And I’m happy to see that there has been an increase in this acknowledgement. We have seen more and more people showing their gratitude to their countries health-care workers, working in hard conditions trying to help people. But this shouldn’t have started with the corona-outbreak and it shouldn’t end when the outbreak ends. And it shouldn’t be limited to health-care workers only.
I got my first job in 2017 when I started working at a daycare. I had of course gone to school and university, and there we learned about other heroes. When we were small children our hero was Pippi Longstocking. In high school it was Winston Churchill. In university coffee was our hero as it could keep us awake. When I started working at the daycare I noticed how unaware I had been of our society’s real heroes for the first 21 years of my life.
I remember that the first day working at the daycare was a very messy one. No one seemed to really know what part of the daycare I was going to work at, and I was moved around several times just within the first hour. Since that day in the spring of 2017 I have worked in several different daycares in my hometown of Stockholm up until the middle of 2019. So I have my fair share of experiences. But I didn’t need nearly that much time to understand why that first day was so messy. It actually just took a few days. And that in turn led me to understand that it wasn’t Pippi Longstocking, Churchill or coffee that were our true heroes. The true heroes of our modern society were my coworkers at the daycare. (Even though coffee helped me, as well as my co-workers, while working at the daycare. So we can still count it as a hero).
Low pay, long hours and tiring work with a lot of responsibilities are a few things that define working at the daycare. I can’t speak for other countries, but I can speak for my own country of Sweden. And here this definition is hardly unique for people working at a daycare. The same goes for nurses, police-officers, taxi-drivers, among many. I constantly hear on the news of police-officers and teachers quitting their jobs because they can’t take it anymore, and of nurses and taxi-drivers having to work overtime for free because, well, they just have to.
I had heard about all of this even before I started working at the daycare. But just like a lot of people, I didn’t give it a second thought. After working at a daycare for some time, I could suddenly sympathise with them.
That first day that I mentioned earlier, it was messy because the staff at the daycare had so much workload that they couldn’t pay attention to me. As I said, I have worked in several (seven to be precise) daycares, and the thing that was constant in all daycares was the frustration and anger of the staff. And also the high number of staff seeking help for mental-health problems. I often just wanted to sit down with them and tell them that everything will be alright, even though I knew that it probably wouldn’t.
As an ending I want to go back to what I said in the beginning. Up to now I think that a lot of people are unaware of the heroes working these types of jobs, just as I was before I started working at the daycare. But the corona-outbreak has made it obvious what heroes they are. Health care-workers have to risk their health working with corona-patients, staff at daycares and supermarkets, as well as bus drivers, have to risk their health coming in close contact with people who might very well have the virus. All while the rest of us are being told to stay at home. And this has made people see them as the heroes they are. Let’s hope it persists when the outbreak is over. The next time you go to the supermarket or ride the bus, please make sure to show your gratitude to the person behind the counter or the wheel.
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By Andreas Cvetkovic Destounis