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Opinion: Tradespeople unsung heroes in times of crisis

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I wrote this love letter to tradespeople nearly 20 years ago. Over the last few weeks, I have fallen even deeper in love with the men and women who work the front lines as drain cleaners, plumbers, septic pros, electricians, HVAC technicians and all those who serve and protect us.

As the COVID-19 virus spreads, most of us have had to stay in. They go out. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for our techs and all our essential workers. Thank you for your service.

Here’s the letter from July 2001. It first appeared in Plumbing & Mechanical Magazine, and it has the same meaning today.

Have I Told You Lately?
Tradespeople are more in touch with the truth than other people. They are a no-nonsense group. They know that the electrical current is there, or it’s not. The burner fires up, or it doesn’t. It’s plumb, or it’s out of plumb. They identify quality by performance. Tradespeople understand the material universe and the way things work. That understanding is becoming increasingly rare.

Dear tradespeople, have I told you lately that I love you?

All hail the electricians!

You are lightning wranglers! You channel raw energy into orderly lines of controlled power, from just enough to energize a night light to more than enough to illuminate New York City. The internet is an amazing feat of technology, and it’s driven by electricity. Even the wireless world is sparked by finely tuned connecting dots of electricity. Electricians routinely handle enough power to blast a man into outer space, or into the next life, and deliver it in just-right doses.

Three cheers for the heating and cooling professionals.

My friends, you create weather! You deliver cool breezes inside when the temperatures soar outside. You keep folks toasty in the winter. You screen the air to remove dust and pollen to keep us from sneezing. Too much moisture in the air? Not enough? You can fix that!

And hurray for the plumbing and drain and sewer pros.

Consider our collective daily contributions to the plumbing system. Where does it all go? Plumbers and drain and sewer pros make it disappear! Like magic. Isn’t that incredible?

Dear plumbers, you are heroes. And not just for clearing the inevitably clogged pipes on the day after Thanksgiving. In the aftermath of a natural or manmade disaster, what is the No. 1 necessity? Water. Water to drink. Water to wash away the threat of disease. After an earthquake, tornado or even after a flood, you restore the water and waste systems.

The plumbers hand it off to the drain cleaners. They handle septage, which is dangerous stuff. Chock-full of more diseases than doctors could ever cure. And they move it along, using crazy cool equipment for clearing, jetting and managing the drain lines.

Ultimately, they hand it off to the septic scions and waste eliminators. Isn’t it amazing how they can incorporate the nastiest waste into our earth in friendly, fertile ways? They finish the water cycle and turn bad water into good again, using the filter of Mother Earth. They turn wine into water. Isn’t that a miracle?

“Just a plumber?” It’s like saying, “I’m just an astronaut” or “I’m just a miracle worker.” I’m in awe of the skills and talents you possess. I’m dazzled by the good work that you perform. How few people can do what you can do!

Have you told them lately?

Take a moment and recognize tradespeople for the great work that they do. Point out the ways they are making life better for all of us. When a job is well done, look him or her in the eye, and say so. Tell them you love them.

And say, “Thank you.”

Ellen Rohr is an author and business consultant offering profit-building tips, trending business blogs and online workshops at EllenRohr.com. Her books include “Where Did the Money Go?” and “The Bare Bones Weekend Biz Plan.” She can be reached at ellen@ellenrohr.com.

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