Sani' crew members wave to Alison's one-and-a-half year old daughter.
Sani’ crew members wave to Alison’s one-and-a-half year old daughter.

Last year, the coronavirus pandemic upended people’s lives in ways that led to more time away from others than most may ever experience in their lifetime. For some, the change yielded positive results, leaving more room for things like self-reflection, unpacked schedules and quality time with immediate family members. For others, the shift created a new normal which depended on technology and shielded in-person experiences in order to maintain relationships.

Each connection, whether old or new, was indeed cherished. The void left by the necessary social limitations allowed many to appreciate each seldom or frequent interaction.

Throughout the entire pandemic, essential workers have been on the frontlines, performing their job duties. Alison B., a Tipperary Hill resident, shared her story of how Department of Public Works sanitation crews have gone above and beyond to cultivate a sense of community and make their interactions special for both her and her daughter:

“One thing about being home—every single day for one year—is that you start to seek out and appreciate any fraction of outside human interaction that you can get. For my family, one way we have found this slice of human contact is through greeting our sanitation workers each week. Because that is another thing about being home—you get see, first-hand, week after week, the hardworking individuals that are up early in the morning to dispose of the city residents’ trash and recycling. These essential workers are doing a hard job for our community.

In the case of my 1.5 year old daughter, who has been in ‘quarantine’ most of her life, these workers have quite literally become part of her weekly routine. That is because the sanitation workers in my neighborhood are fantastic human beings. They go out of their to wave, smile and beep their horn at my daughter as we watch them work from our window. They will even beep their horn to get her attention if we are not at the window when they get there that week, which especially excites her. And I am almost certain they are the reason she learned how to wave ‘hello.’ Not only are they so friendly and sweet to her, they are getting their job done.

The thrill and joy my daughter gets from these small interactions makes her day, and gives her something to look forward to. But more than that, through these connections, she is learning the people of the world are kind, generous, happy and hard-working, which is the way I would want her to see it.

I can’t thank these workers enough for going so far above and beyond their duty to make my little girl smile. THANK YOU!”

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