Posted by: Mike Whitmore | March 11, 2010

Ode to Workers Everywhere

My grandfather was a mortician and a deputy county-coroner while my grandmother owned a well-known restaurant in our hometown. We kinda figured we had the best of both worlds if a customer became ill for some reason. My first job began when I was 13 years old washing dishes with the family business.

Growing up in the restaurant business taught me an important lesson, namely, that when I grew up the last thing I wanted to do was own a restaurant.

When I came back from my first year of college I needed a job, but didn’t want to go back into the family restaurant. My mom was really encouraging me to work with my granddad, but I didn’t like the thoughts of being in his line of work.

You see, a coroner’s job is to pick up the body when someone passes away outside of a hospital. Coroner’s are highly trained and investigate scenes of crimes, accidents, suicides or, as I saw my first day on the job (thanks Mom!) when someone passes away at home.

The older gentleman we picked up died of starvation at home. He lived with another older gentleman and they were both alcoholics. Willie explained that alcoholics can starve their systems of nutrients because rather than eating they will often just drink.

Granddad dispelled my angst about what a coroner does via this explanation. Society works because people fill needed roles. He saw his work as an act of service because he was honoring the person who passed away by treating their body with respect, investigating any odd circumstances and preparing them for a proper burial.

I’ve always remembered that lesson and appreciate the chance I had to work alongside my granddad. He’s always been an example of compassion and love to me.

Now, to my point, I want to give a shout-out to all those who work around me in whatever capacity. When I see people laboring I often think of my own responsibilities as a husband and father and how much I enjoy providing for my family. I’m sure others are working for their own reasons special to them.

Occasionally I go through a McDonald’s drive through and the guy that works there is probably the happiest man on the planet! He’s also fast and efficient. The Fish Guys at Pikes Market in Seattle are a riot to watch, buy from and speak with.

There are so many examples of people happily working and contributing all around me including those incredible restaurateurs.

My sincere thanks and shout-out to you all!




  1. I like this post Mike — it’s something that most of us (myself included) often take for granted. We just assume that someone will fill that “service role” and that we can move on with our “important” things. I am very grateful that these roles are filled. The reality is that they are often so efficient in their execution that the people behind the process are transparent. Thanks for writing this and helping me to look beyond the process.

  2. Thanks for your comment Jeff! What you wrote means that I got my point across to you in the post. And hey, thanks for reading too!

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