Every year in February, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards Oscars to the best actors, actresses, movies, music, sound effects (24 categories in all) of the movies of the past year. This will be the 92nd year.
The big gala was on Sunday. This article is being written before that day, but it doesn’t matter because I won’t be watching anyway. I expect the affair will be as exciting as the Iowa Caucuses. It will be about celebrities, big egos and long speeches.
But my day-in, day-out awards (DIDO) aren’t about big names and famous faces, they’re about the day-in, day-out services of ordinary, hardworking men and women who perform needed tasks, but are unknown and unrecognized for the steady and consistent good things they do. Our academy gives these folks a well-deserved pat on the back for serving us and making our lives better.
In past years we have recognized a shoe repair couple, a cheerful bakery lady, a once-in-a-lifetime secretary, a class of ambitious technical college students, nursing home workers, railroad engineers, over the road truckers, firemen, two-job workers, convenience store clerks, those who stand by day after day on hold for emergencies, those who deliver papers everyday of the year, all holidays included, those who clean: school custodians, commercial and church custodians, domestic workers, sanitation workers and highway ditch volunteers. Last year we honored folks who worked with adults and children with special needs: educators, medical professionals, social workers, foster parents, adoptive parents, counselors and police.
This is our 15th annual DIDO awards and this year we honor a group generally lumped together and called by an insulting name: bureaucrats. Bureaucrats are the folks who work for the city, county, state and federal governments. Government employees. They have jobs at city hall, the police station, the courthouse, the IRS and all the big buildings in our state capitol and Washington, D.C. Their services are usually thankless, often belittled and ridiculed.
There are nearly 22 million federal, state and local government employees in America.
Politicians make all the noise, but the bureaucrats keep the country humming while the campaigning goes on. I have worked for years with the folks at city hall, the courthouse, the police station, sheriff’s office and the street and highway departments and I have found them dedicated, hardworking, committed, helpful and courteous. Have I ever encountered a jerk? Of course, but I know doctors, lawyers, teachers and foster parents who are jerks too. There are jerks in all occupations, but the bureaucrats I have worked with have done their jobs and gotten their work accomplished in spite of general lack of appreciation by the public.
So, this year we give a pat on the back and award our Oscars to the bureaucrats who make our lives better long-day-in and day-out. Here’s the thanks and respect you deserve but receive so rarely.