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9 Readers on Being Essential Workers

15 Readers on Being Essential Workers

Over the past couple years, the world has been through the ringer, and no one understands that more than the essential workers who’ve headed out of their homes every day. Here, nine amazing women share their stories…

Above: “I’m a respiratory therapist. We manage patients on life support, and sadly we are also the ones that have to remove the breathing tube during end of life. I remember holding patients’ hands so they’d know they weren’t alone. I remember moments of silence after they passed. I remember the faces of my fellow coworkers, broken down and tired. Being a healthcare worker during this pandemic has changed me; I know I can do hard things, but I’m not the same person I was two years ago. Thank you to everyone who has fought this battle in any capacity. We see you.” — Dena

“As a special education teacher, I have eight beautiful rays of light in my class. Half are ambulatory and half are wheelchair-bound. Love is found in every nook and cranny of this room. My husband is also a teacher, but works at a different school teaching middle schoolers (bless him).” — Ginelle

15 Readers on Being Essential Workers

“I own a coffee company, and we stayed open for our employees and community. Quickly we saw that folks were lonely, so I gave out my phone number and delivered coffee across our county. Seeing our customers from their driveways felt like a miracle. We give people a place to belong, even if just for a few minutes.” — Julia

15 Readers on Being Essential Workers

“I’m a flight attendant. At first, when the whole world was shutting down, it felt like the scene in the Titanic where the ship is sinking but the band is still playing. I was terrified of going to work. But passengers have gone out of their way to show gratitude. Bringing the crew a box of chocolates or making eye contact and saying ‘Thanks for being here!’ can turn around a frustrating day. However, the best thing passengers can do is simply wear their mask over their nose, mouth and chin for the entire flight and smile with their eyes. Do this, and I promise your crew will smile back.” — Erica

15 Readers on Being Essential Workers

“I’m an assistant at the Boston Public Library Teen Services. Since we reopened our doors, teens have been so excited to have a safe space outside of their homes to study, play games and do all kinds of things.” — Michelle

“I’ve been an essential worker at Trader Joe’s since the Before Times, then through the toilet paper hoarding times, and now to the present. Working with difficult customers has been punctuated by moments of togetherness in our wine section among my coworkers (and regulars). Thanks for bringing awareness to grocery workers — we work hard and often get forgotten, so we appreciate the recognition!” — Mackenzie

15 Readers on Being Essential Workers

“I am a therapist at one of the country’s largest juvenile detention centers. We serve kids aged 10 to 17, who are awaiting trial for allegedly committing crimes (evading arrest, aggravated robbery, etc). Visitation has been shut down since the pandemic began, which means our residents with more serious charges have sometimes gone without seeing their parents for over a year. These COVID times are hard, especially for kids in scary situations who are feeling completely alone.” — Mary

15 Readers on Being Essential Workers

“I’m a physician associate at a community health center. I took this selfie in March 2020, my first day seeing COVID patients. I had no idea how much the whole world would change! We have been one of the only testing sites to consistently offer free tests to the community and have in turn tested thousands upon thousands of patients.” — Anni

15 Readers on Being Essential Workers

“I’m the librarian at an elementary school. During the height of COVID, when schools were closed, I came in twice a week and made book bags for all 300+ students. It was so much work, but during a scary time, it was a privilege to send books home to the students and their families. Now that the kids are back, the library is so happy — the books really missed them!” — Rachel

Thank you, with all our hearts, to all the essential workers!

P.S. Pandemic New Yorker covers and 12 readers share their cozy corners.

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