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Let's hear it for the "City Guys"

Fri, Dec 21st, 2007
Posted in Commentary

We see and hear tributes to our firefighters, police, and emergency responders; they deserve this praise, especially in our small towns where they are often volunteers, risking lives to protect us.

There is another group of folks who merit our thanks, and often are forgotten, the "city guys." Oh, I know, they are paid workers, but they go far beyond their hours and their duties. They make our lives as townspeople both possible and pleasant.

My kitchen window looks out across my back yard, beyond my garage, and across the alley to one of our city garages, so perhaps that provides me a closer perspective on their activities. Anyway, I have a growing conviction that we need to be grateful for their many varied services.

This time of year the crew may work most of a twenty-four hours, days in a row. They are clearing the snow from the most vital places first, sort of like triage: main streets, downtown, the school, the nursing home, vital utilities. We sometimes complain if our street isn't immediately cleared - really, other things necessarily come first.

After that initial plowing, the side streets, parking areas ... then back to load up the piles left with the early passes and truck the snow away from town. This can take days. And back again they go, sometimes several times, to clean up still better. Add in the vital services that may freeze or clog or collapse and need repair.

Then for the holidays, they string and check all the special lighting, hang banners and greenery, keep the speakers and music going, and in just a few weeks, take it all down again and store it carefully for next year. All this is done, as is the snow and ice removal, in weather conditions that keep most of us inside wrapped in our electric blankets or lap robes.

Year-long, who maintains our water quality, fixes breaks in mains, or cleans out our gutters and sewer outlets? How about the electrical connections in town? The list goes on.

During warmer months, it's the "city guys" who trim and mow parks, remove dangerous tree branches, paint benches and picnic tables, and water the planters that add color to our main street. They put up and take down banners and street barriers for our celebrations. When they aren't doing these things, they are out with the machine that sweeps our streets, or picks up our fall leaves.

These dedicated crews of city workers provide safety, mobility, livability, and beauty for all of us, working long, hard hours.

Not just now, at Christmas time, but especially now, how about giving them a smile, a wave, a thank-you for a job well done? Maybe some of us could bake them a plate of cookies, or send a box of candy, or a basket of fruit. Even a Christmas card sent in appreciation could let them know how essential they are to all aspects of our lives as citizens of our town. We should never just take them for granted. Now is a good time to cultivate that "attitude of gratitude," then extend our thanks throughout the year.

Come on! Let's hear it for the "city guys!"

Jeanne Martin lives in Mabel.

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