From Christine Carmichael…
Many of us spend 358 days of the year looking forward to the week that is upon us now. The holiday season is a time when most companies and organizations either shut down altogether or at a minimum reduce the number of days they are open. You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief when the work world finally slows down enough to gift us with an opportunity to spend unhurried time with family and friends.
Unfortunately there are many workers who won’t get an uninterrupted break this week. In fact the holiday season and the week ahead will only serve to increase their demanding workloads. The medical industry, for example, runs 24/7, so lots of doctors, nurses and other hospital staff will be stepping up this week. Retail and restaurant workers, along with hotel and airport personnel, will also clock in. But there’s another industry that is in high demand too during the holiday season…our public sector workforce. Paramedics, firefighters, police officers and emergency dispatchers will be escalating their hours the coming days. After all, some family gatherings actually drive an uptick in 911 calls. Throw in a burning Christmas tree or two, and it’s not hard to imagine why holidays drive overtime for our public safety workforce. Public Works, DOT’s, and several other government offices will be on high alert as well as roadways and other public systems are taxed. And then there’s the military. None of us can forget our armed forces and the sacrifices they and their families are making this holiday season to protect our freedom.
I have family members who work in all of these industries, and their presence is often missed around the holiday dinner table. When I’ve caught up with them later to bid belated holiday cheer, they often speak of their co-workers as being extended family. They talk about how “the family” will pull together to cover a co-worker’s first Christmas at home with a new baby, or they’ll share an example of covering for someone who needed to be home during the holiday with a sick relative. It’s never surprising to me that those who have selected public service work for a career also pull together to support their extended work family during the holiday. As one family member said to me at Thanksgiving, “It’s just how we roll.”
As we scarf up the last bit of holiday ham and sweet potatoes, I hope we don’t easily forget those who are completing their workdays as usual so that we are able to enjoy our holiday break. My hope is that we pause for just a few minutes to tap a doctor, a retailer, a public safety officer, or numerous others who are making the sacrifice and let them know how much we appreciate their awesome dedication.