We regularly celebrate the movers and shakers, the entrepreneurs and thought leaders, the people who make changes in big ways and take the spotlight of our attention. They have had their 15 minutes and it is time to share the stage. Today we celebrate the under-layer of our every day. Today we celebrate the blue and white collar heroes that do the least sexy job in every economy.
Hey, I Know Them
They have familiar faces. They look like the guy you used to sit next to in shop class. They have the face of your neighbor down the street. They also look like people from foreign nations and exotic movies, but their work is something you barely notice, and never think about.
What they have in common is their employment fulfills every desire you might have.
They go by different names. Logistics specialist. Transportation Engineer. The Merchant Marine. Shippers. Truck drivers. Our favorite men in brown at the UPS. Even the unsung heroes of the perennially inefficient and over-budgeted United States Postal Service. What they have in common is their employment fulfills every desire you might have.
Have a hankering for those new leggings everyone is wearing? Done! And quickly!
How many miles do those leggings travel before they end up on your doorstep in the familiar Amazon Prime box? If they were made in Pakistan, they traveled at least 7,600 miles to end up at your door, passing through the hands of four or five different companies, each one passing the package on to the next in perfect harmony, to finally lay gently at your doorstep. And the leggings only cost $5.49.
How is it possible? How can you buy useful implements like a stainless steel spatula manufactured in China, on the other side of the planet, for only $6.99?
Our transporters risk their lives daily, braving wild weather and questionable political climates, in some of the most boring work every conceived by man, eating up mile after mile, only to arrive at their destination, empty their trailers, load up, and start all over again.
Have you ever stopped to think about how magical it is that you can buy bananas for 59 cents per pound, year round, in climates that can’t support banana trees? You can walk into a grocery store teeming with lively and colorful food, processed or not, from all over the world, and walk out with bags full of every food you want, for incredibly reasonable prices, even though the pomegranate you bought traveled from the Middle East to make its way to your designer Swedish fruit bowl.
Ship It Real Good
Who is largely to blame for the immediate access you have to quasi-unimaginable stockpiles of goods? Shippers.
My sincere appreciation goes out to all of you who spend your working hours pursuing our collective dreams of consumption. No one geographic location has the resources, knowledge, climate, machinery, labor, or raw materials to make everything that everyone wants within a reasonable distance. Want to enjoy the fruits of the division of labor? You’re going to lean heavily on shippers to make that happen.
And so I take my hat off to Ryan, who spends his nights driving rolling bombs of crude oil to the refineries hours away, his cargo ending up in vats and processes, then back on trucks, hauled out to service stations to help fill up my tank so I can drive to IKEA and pick out the latest in imported dishes and kitchen tools.
Thank you to Carlos, who delivers package after package every day out of his big brown truck, bringing smiles to the faces of everyone he delivers who ordered something from Amazon.
My sincere appreciation goes out to all of you who spend your working hours pursuing our collective dreams of consumption. I realize that you may not even think about your own occupation in heroic terms, but you’re my heroes.
If you need me, I’ll be eating a cheap banana under my chinese-made cloth-top gazebo on my canadian deck chair while wearing clothes whose countries of origin include Vietnam and Pakistan.
Thank you. Really. You make my world...