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Postcards from the Edge - Hero's


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I get an odd reaction every time I see posters on the wall or news articles about "Honor the Healthcare Hero’s". 

It bugs me and I am not exactly sure why.   I am a Healthcare Worker, I have a badge, I might be able to get a free cup of coffee from Starbucks, but I am no hero.  I could be an accountant or a project manager or a receptionist.  I don't take care of patients.  I don't aid someone in their sick bed or try to comfort families that have lost a loved one.  Those people are hero’s.

In fact on most days I feel like a chump.  I feel like a chump because there is so much fear of sickness in my household and in the workplace that I stay home from work most days.  I feel like a chump because everything I used to do and be proud of feels compromised both at work and at home because I can't live the way I used to.  I feel like a chump because I work 10 to 12  hours  a day most days sitting on a computer talking to people, attending meetings, trying to keep the operations running from afar.  Never worked so hard or felt so inadequate at the same time.

Maybe I just have a problem with the term "hero".

You see I grew up with three brothers and we collected piles of comic books.  We knew all about hero’s, like Superman and Spiderman and the Green Hornet.  

I am no hero.....but Batman ....now he was a hero.  He wore spandex and a cape.  He swung into town when Gotham City was in trouble and he saved the day.  He chased down the bad guys and put them in jail.  Those frontline healthcare workers.....yeah, I can see that.  They are hero’s... but not me.

 I think I relate more to Alfred.  Maybe its because I am old now.  Maybe its because I work behind the scenes.

But probably because Batman relied on Alfred. 

Someone had to get his costume dry cleaned and neatly hung up.  Someone had to make sure the utility belt was fully stocked and charged.  Alfred likely had to train Batman on how to use some of those gadgets to make sure he didn't blow anything up or hurt himself.   You never saw Batman waiting in line at the gas station or the car wash taking care of the Bat Mobile.  Alfred took care of that.  And what about the Bat Cave?  Well it was secret, but I am sure Batman had to prequalify contractors and had them sign NDA's to work on it.   I am sure it had a complicated ventilation system and very stable emergency power designed by competent engineers.  Guessing it a had a fire suppression system as well that had to be designed and inspected.    And Batman was a good citizen so I am sure it was designed to be sustainable and save power for the grid in Gotham City.  It must have been built by talented craftsman and meticulously maintained by thoughtful maintenance workers, because everyone knows that when trouble shows up Batman has to be able to roll right away.   

My guess was Batman wasn't the easiest guy to work for. 


When you’re a Hero you’re under a lot of pressure.  If you’re going to save the world everything has to work.  I am sure Alfred heard about it right away if the Bat Computer was on the fritz or if the Bat Mobile broke down.  Alfred understood it was his job to make sure stuff like that didn't happen.

I guess my message to my staff and my friends (and myself) in the coming year, is we all  have days where we feel like chumps.  None of us is working or living the way we want to.  Everyone you work with has a different set of fears and burdens at work and at home that they are dealing with, but we all have them.

Continue to be tolerant and understanding. 

Continue to work hard to get the work done.

Know that regardless of how far away you are from the front lines of providing care for patients that you are all hero’s.  

Batman needed and appreciated Alfred.  Gotham City relied on Alfred to keep Batman in business. 

The bad guys didn't know who Alfred was, but Batman sure did.   

He knew in his heart that Alfred had a bit of spandex hanging in his closet too.





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Man, Geezer, 

This was a very nice post and one that comes from not the heart but even deeper ( the soul ). 

It is a breath of fresh air to see and know such humble and modest people like you. It is to me the 

ones that are in the shadows that we don't see that are as much the heroes as the ones that we do see. It is 

sometimes these " subliminal "  heroes that influence us more without us knowing this ( thus the term subliminal hero ).

To cut to the quick, I too grew up reading comics and short stories, my favorite " Tarzan " , however fictional they were as real as 

real can be to me. It is nice , though to know, a truly "real" super hero and that is indeed you !!!  

To me , a important characteristic that defines a super hero is discipline and knowing how to be effective in keeping ones-self and others safe. That discipline

requires effort and sacrifice, of which you are doing---- you are no chump, I know someone much higher up in the country that is though.....say no more....  

Cheers !!!

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I appreciated your post, Geez.  Very thoughtful and insightful. 

Actually, I have a problem with the whole concept of heroes.  I think it's a glittering (read: impressive but largely vapid) concept that's part of our American make-ourselves-feel-good-about-ourselves mythologies.  I don't think there are heroes in the sense of powerful folks who do things that save the world.  Of course, I kind of have a problem with the concept of "leaders" as well.  Seems to me like a label some folks like to claim for themselves so they can keep bossing other folks around.

I think the world turns, and gets saved or doesn't, because all of us little people do whatever it is that we do, and we do it well, or we don't.  It would be handy if we could just hand off the big tasks to some kind of superpowered folks who bear the burden of doing the one crucial thing that will make all the difference.  I just don't think the world works like that, or ever has, or ever will.  I think we all have to just shoulder our part and do it to the best of our ability.  It's not some big choice that some important person makes that changes much of anything.  It's all of our choices, day in and day out, whether to do the right thing, or care for those around us, and do our jobs well, and not ask for more than our share and give what we can to those who need it. 

The world doesn't get saved by Churchills and Pattons or destroyed by Hitlers and Himmlers.  It gets saved by the guys making the diesel engines work in the tanks or on the ships and destroyed by the folks making sure the trains of cattle cars full of Jews ran on time.  It's saved or destroyed by us, all of us. 

If this global pandemic has taught us anything, and I sure as hell hope it has taught us something at least, then I think it may have opened our eyes a bit as to what we really mean by "essential worker."  It's not the folks who get the big bucks.  It's all the folks that keep the world running and our needs met and our lives on track - the stockers and checkers and clerks and service workers and transportation workers and janitors and public works folks, etc, etc, etc.  It's the folks that don't usually count, or matter, or get much credit, or much of the pie. 

Spandex is just a funny-looking fabric that no one really looks good in.  It's time, perhaps, for us to admit that. 

Edited by WWGriphos
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Tom, thanks for the work you do behind the scenes. A small job, done well, skillfully as we know how,  with the tools that we have to work with, is a job well done. Trying times for all Americans and people in other countries who wish they could do more, be more, plan more, see the future more, but are in some cases. are  inconsolable because it just doesnt seem to be enough. Peace to you, sleep the sleep of those who understand that what they do, although not stopping the 'bad guy', they do their part as they can, and will be thanked for what they do, even if they feel others are doing more. 

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Ask yourself this....would you do what they do?  If the answer is no, then they are hero's.  But the machinery that kept us going was huge, a lot of moving parts.   I can see how someone would have a hard time seeing how important what they did was if they considered themselvs to be just a little cog.  What they have to realize is if they broke, the gear next to them didn't turn, and the belt after that didn't spin and so on.  

Don't underestimate how important what you did was Geezer.  I'm sure you would not look at the people you worked with, and think what they did was not important.

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Ten minutes writing a post... ctrl-a -> del all the pointless stuff.

Overcoming fear is the goal. Sometimes it's easy... sometimes not. But we cannot live in fear. We are humans, we identify that which threatens us, and we overcome it. If we are to survive, we don't fear. 

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