My superheroes are people doing common jobs

Published 10:20 am Monday, July 12, 2010

My grandsons ages 5 and 3 are entranced with Spider-Man. Spider-Man can do anything, and they both revel in wearing Spider-Man shirts and pajamas and pretending to be Spider-Man.

I want to teach my grandsons about my new superheroes. My first new superhero is Superplumber. He dashed to the rescue with his rooter and his plunger. He saves damsels in distress from the nasty tree root bandit. There is no job too big or too small for Superplumber.

Fireworks were not the only thing popping on the Fourth of July weekend. I heard the bubbles, checked the basement and saw the river of regurgitation from my sewer. Who could I call? What would I do? No one works on holidays. So I put out the thought to the universe. I need a Superplumber! The telephone floated to my hand. I felt my finger dialing and called Superplumber’s number. I explained I didn’t expect him to fix my problem over the holiday, but I wanted to know if there was something I could do to make the situation better. I couldn’t.

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The next morning, at 7:30 a.m., on a holiday weekend, Superplumber was at my door. He attacked the root monster with gusto, wrestling and fighting as the root monster held his ground. And then Superplumber defeated the root monster. Superplumber was my hero. Can you believe it? Superplumber came on a holiday weekend.

Superplumber made me think about my grandson’s fascination with Spider-Man and my fascination with Robert Redford. They are both bigger than life. We teach our kids to idolize someone who is bigger than life.

I can hear everyone saying “Yes, but wait until you get the bill for Superplumber.” Well, Superplumber deserves to be paid well. Do any of us want to clear out a nasty sewer and deal with the regurgitation? Would we dive in without a complaint?

We seem to push our kids toward careers in the corporate world. When was the last time you heard anyone tell their kids to go to school to become a garbage collector, a ditch digger, a factory worker or even a dishwasher? There are many other physical careers that require hard physical work in unsavory conditions. We do not value those jobs in America anymore.

We don’t appreciate the people who clean our toilets, clean our rooms, scrub floors and do service work. Those people keep this country going. Plus, we do not teach our kids to respect this kind of work. We don’t teach our kids that no matter what job you are doing, if it is job well done, then you should have pride in your work. It doesn’t matter how big or small, how clean or dirty the job is, we need to value our workers and have pride in what we do.

We teach our kids that superheroes, sports stars and imaginary characters are celebrities, but there is room to also teach them about the superheroes in our everyday lives. That superhero might be a mom or dad who works in a nursing home as an aide caring for the elderly. That superhero might be the ambulance driver who risks his or her life on icy roads and in a snowstorm so a patient can get to the hospital. The superhero might be the utility people who restore our power in a raging storm. We need to change the way America views superheroes. That superhero might be your garbage man.

Look around you, and think about the superheroes in your life. Point out these extraordinary people to your children and grandchildren. These superheroes also differ from Spider-Man, Robert Redford and whomever else is famous or infamous. Super Garbage Man, Super Nursing Assistant and Super Ambulance Driver also perform their tasks with low pay and sometimes no pay. The list of jobs that employ superheroes is endless. But these superheroes are invisible. They don’t run around with capes and stop traffic. They don’t have publicity firms to hype their superhero status. Our superheroes blend in and keep our society running and make our lives easier. We just don’t always see it.

If I could change the world in one way I would tip the scales and pay the everyday superheroes the way we support and pay the celebrity superheroes. Well, maybe I would drop the celebrity superheroes pay. Whose job is more important?

Close your eyes. Look into the future. As you walk down the street, it is littered with garbage. The smell is so bad that your eyes water and you lose what food was in your stomach. The nearest retail store might offer a little respite, but as you venture into the bathroom at the store you find it has not been cleaned. Toilets are plugged. There are few cashiers, the rest have all left for better paying jobs. Your next stop is to visit your parents at the nursing home. The halls smell. Your mom or your dad hasn’t had their clothes changed in days. There is no one to wash their clothes or clean up the messes. No one wants to do this job anymore for such low pay so they have all quit.

Back outside again you look around and see all the closed down factories. The food processing plant is covered in mold and has been closed for a long time. No one wants to do factory work anymore. The pay was low and the hours long.

All right, I got a little carried away. This will probably never happen but the point is that we need to value those that serve us and make our lives easier. There is no caped crusader to rescue us but our everyday superheroes do.

Superplumber saved me from outhouses, taking a shower in the rain and having my dirty dishes and laundry pile up. What superhero saved you today?

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at .Her blog is Listen to KBEW AM radio 1:30 p.m. Sundays for “Something About Nothing.”