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Eighth annual DIDO Awards

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Every year about this time the Motion Picture Academy makes a huge production out of awarding Oscars to the best movies, actors, actresses, music, sound effects, etc. -- all from the year before. The ceremony goes on for hours and it's pure glitz: long speeches, emotional performances and plunging necklines. No awards are given for family values because there would be no nominees. I usually do something much more important than watching -- I read the paper (yes, I admit I'm a stick-in-the-mud).

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Going back in history, some of the big winners have been "Gone With The Wind," "From Here To Eternity," "Patton," "The Godfather," "Dances With Wolves," "The Sting" and "Forrest Gump."

We don't give awards to actors, actresses and movies in this column. Our business is much more important. What we do, and we're doing it for the eighth year in a row, is to give DIDO Awards in recognition of ordinary people who provide solid, worthwhile day-in-day-out service for the rest of us. Not performances, but actual service. These people never get recognition except in this column. We honor them without naming names because their descriptions often include many people, not just one or two.

This year, we're going to share a bit of history along with naming this year's winners.

In 2005, the top movie was "Million Dollar Baby" with Hillary Swank and Clint Eastwood. That was the first year of the DIDO Awards and the winners included a husband and wife shoe repair business featuring unbelievably friendly, helpful and reasonable services day in and day out; a bakery lady, cheerful and optimistic even on the most miserable days; and a one-in-a-million secretary -- who is smart, fast, has a world class work ethic and never misses a day of work.

The following year the top movie was "Crash," but nobody saw it. Much more impressive were the DIDO Awards, first to American dairy farmers for their day-in-day-out labor of love milking two or three times a day, 365 days a year. Also honored that year were nursing home workers for their great hearts and 20 technical college students who have jobs, families, children and out-of-school duties but still do their homework, attend class and show hustle.

The following year, 2007, the Oscar went to "The Departed," but nobody saw that either. DIDO Awards went to hospital workers, convenience store workers and railroad engineers who keep the trains running in this country every day of the year including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter and the Fourth of July.

In 2008, the top movie was "No Country For Old Men" -- violent and bloody. The DIDO Awards went to night shift people who stock shelves and clean stores all night long while truck drivers are delivering the goods down dark highways, smiling waitresses are serving middle of the night customers, bakers are baking tomorrow's fresh bread and the rest of us are home sleeping.

"Slumdog Millionaire" got the Oscar in 2009. But our great recession was coming down hard and the DIDO's didn't forget the workers who had just been laid off and families going through foreclosures. They were given the Persistence Awards for their day-in-day-out efforts to keep their heads above water.

In 2010, the Oscar was awarded to "The Hurt Locker," a movie that very few ever saw. The theme for the DIDO Awards that year was, "They Serve Who Also Standby And Wait." Named were armed services, reservists, 911 personnel, emergency medical personnel, firemen, law enforcement officers and yes, morticians. They all stand by, ready to spring into action on short notice.

Everybody remembers the "The King's Speech," which was honored with an Oscar in 2011, but who remembers that the DIDO Awards went to public employees? Teachers, police, deputies, courthouse and postal employees, all who serve with professionalism day-in-day-out while politicians (campaigning while on tovernment payroll) take cheap shots at them and demean them as lowly "bureaucrats."

This year the DIDO Committee salutes another unsung group. One morning recently I went to the bakery for some fresh baked goods. I was attended by a cheerful young lady who wrapped up the package and told me to have a good day. At the end of that day, I was at a meat market on the opposite end of town. That same cheerful young lady sold me two pounds of hamburger and expressed the wish that I have a good evening. She was working two jobs while going to high school.

The award this year goes to the two-job people out there. Just today, I saw a lady working in the hospital who also serves lunches at a local eating spot. If you pay attention and ask a few questions, you'll find that many -- maybe even most -- of the people serving you at convenience stores, as waitresses, as school bus drivers, and some as teachers -- are working two jobs. That's why, this year, we salute these folks for their hustle, their drive and award them the "Double Duty Award." There isn't a George Clooney, Meryl Streep or Brad Pitt among them, but they're all stars and all winners.

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