You’re a hero. You’re saving us all. We can’t live without you. Your hair looks amazing today, what kind of conditioner do you use? People who are deemed to be essential workers keep hearing compliments like these since the coronavirus pandemic hit and now they’re posting jokes about it online.
To brighten up your day, Bored Panda has collected some of the most hilarious essential worker memes. Enjoy and remember to upvote your faves! And if you’re an Essential Panda, tell us what life is like for you now in the comments.
Essential employees are healthcare professionals, police officers, firefighters, grocery store employees, fast-food workers, truckers, and every single person who keeps civilization functioning during the quarantine. (Oh, and tax collectors are considered to provide essential services in some places, too.) Bored Panda spoke with Dr. Eddy Ng, the James and Elizabeth Freeman Professor of Management at Bucknell University, about essential workers. Scroll down for our interview with him.
"Although we hear the term 'heroes' being used to describe many essential workers, the term is apt because they perform work that can bring harm to themselves and potentially their families," Dr. Ng said. "Not all heroes are idolized or worshiped, but there is certainly an element of bravery and self sacrifice here. Thus, the term hero is an expression of gratitude by the collective or community who are dependent on these essential workers. Since many of them are not being paid much or don't have a choice but to come to work, the term 'hero' also provides intrinsic motivation and fulfillment for these workers."
The professor added that there's greater recognition of how critically important these workers are now because our health, safety, and survival depends on them. "This gratitude will pass when the pandemic is over and things return to normalcy, thus it is important for us to recognize their contributions now."
"Few employers (e.g., Cargill, Safeway) are providing better compensation but that also reflects a rapidly declining supply of labor (workers are getting sick) and employers enticing others to join the labor market," Dr. Ng explained. "Employers need to do more, such as providing the tools to perform these jobs safely. At the very least, they need to provide a pay premium ('hazard pay') when asking workers to perform work that can expose themselves to harm."
We’ve all heard how these hard-working Pandas are being called heroes, but is that term being overused, especially when we look at how little they’re being paid for their efforts?
The fact is, “thank you’s” don’t pay the bills and being an everyday superhero doesn’t pay all that well. So a lot of essential employees have that in common with comic book superheroes!
Some essential employees are sick and tired of being complimented, celebrated, and hailed as heroes. Why? Because they don’t have any choice: they work their low-paying jobs because they need them to survive.
For instance, Nelson Santiago quit his job at Wendy’s in Waco, Texas, when he felt “disrespected and humiliated.” He and his coworkers received a bag of candy from Wendy’s corporate HQ, but Santiago was making 8.50 dollars an hour: he didn’t want candy—he wanted hazard pay and safe working conditions.
“For them to say a simple thank-you while they sit in the comfort of their homes with their families protected and reaping the benefits of these chains still being open—it is insulting," Santiago told Business Insider.
Meanwhile, a Taco Bell manager told Business Insider that he was working up to 65 hours per week for no additional pay because some of his coworkers quit due to their hours being cut.
If we call somebody a hero, we should make sure they’re being treated like one, don’t you think? Luckily, some powerful people think so, too. US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is proposing legislation that frontline heroes get up to 25k dollars as part of a financial crisis-rescue package.