The 7 p.m. clap is long gone, overwhelmed by the protests for racial justice that took over the city this summer. In 2020 time, it feels like ages ago that New Yorkers took to their stoops and windows to bang pots and pans and cheer for the city’s essential workers who were powering us through the early days of the pandemic.
The clap is gone but the essential workers are still there, driving trains, delivering your food orders, cleaning the streets, collecting trash, stocking the shelves at grocery stores and keeping the bodegas running all night long. And of course: all the medical professionals working to keep us safe, swabbing our noses and keeping the lines at the COVID testing sites moving along. As New York tilts into a potential second wave of the pandemic, the holiday week is the perfect time to thank all these behind-the-scenes workers who have been keeping the city humming for eight months.
We profiled several of these workers in the neighborhood over the summer, to give you a sense of what they’ve been going through. “Since people are home now more often, the weight of the garbage has gotten a lot heavier,” sanitation worker Anthony Paolicelli told the Downtown Alliance. “I handle it, and let me tell you, I can feel it.”
They’re not the only ones: restaurant workers are dealing with an uncertain future and a potential loss of jobs, and even salons are trying to stay afloat as office traffic in the neighborhood has dried up.
This Thanksgiving week is the strangest one in recent memory: the CDC and local public health officials are pleading with people not to travel or see family outside their immediate households. This means more people will be staying around Lower Manhattan this week than usual for the holiday, which means more workers will be on the frontlines keeping the stores open and the services operational.
If you can’t give thanks to your family in person this year, use this holiday to remember the spirit of the 7 p.m. clap and give thanks to the essential workers and service workers you see around the neighborhood. Essential workers are often some of the hardest working people in the city and least paid. They’re also getting sick while doing their jobs.
So tip a little extra to your delivery person (remember that cash tips are always better!), be extra patient with the long line at the grocery store, say thank you to a mail carrier and absolutely do not get an attitude with the nice nurse sticking the swab up your nose. Yes it’s supposed to hurt that much. And most importantly: wear a mask whenever you thank them. We’re going to need them more than ever in the next few weeks.