Listen to the audible version of this column:

By Norris Burkes Sept 5 2021

I suspect my neighborhood is much like yours, where folks use social media to share thoughts and gripes with anyone who will take the bait.

Lately, I’ve read several posts tying the lack of local service workers to California’s substantial unemployment benefits.

“They are getting too much money,” one post said. “If you cut their benefits, they’ll be glad to bus dishes or pump gas,” claimed another. The notion persists despite the fact that study after study continues to debunk such classist tripe.

Well, I have another theory I’d like to propose this Labor Day weekend.

Perhaps the lack of help can be traced to the bankruptcy of thankfulness among those people posting such jabber.

I began testing my theory early last spring and I think I’m spot on.

In one example just last month, I stepped into McDonald’s to order their breakfast BOGO sandwich deal. Yup, I can eat two.

The shift manager kindly took my order while simultaneously relaying bilingual orders over her headset.

Ten minutes later, I returned to the counter to apply my theory.

It was a message I’ve been sharing with pretty much every minimum-wage worker I meet – service-station cashiers, dressing-room attendants, and car-wash crews.

With a focused expression, I told her, “I just want to say thank you.

“Thank you for working now and being here through this whole damn mess.”

Her eyes took on a soft glisten. We both knew what I meant by “this whole damn mess.”

“I’ve been here this entire time,” she said, pride soaking through her mask. “I never left.”

“That’s amazing!” I said, adding a BOGO dose of thanks.

Ironically, early in the pandemic, the woman found herself among service workers in America called “heroic” and “essential.” Now, she’s at risk of being attacked, harassed, or even killed for asking customers to put on a mask. She’s labored long hours through supply shortages and lax safety protocols.

I couldn’t help but wonder if these food workers were famished for gratitude. Had even 1 in 10 of their daily customers returned to voice a genuine thank you?

There’s a Biblical story about Jesus considering the same odds when he was approached by ten men inside the Samarian border. They all suffered from leprosy, so they immediately placed their order for a Grande cup of healing.

Jesus answered their pleas and sent them off to their priest to obtain their back-to-work clearances.

But when only one of them returned to thank the Son of God for supersizing his grace, Jesus asked, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to the one, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”

In a day in which our world is looking for a healing, this story from Luke 17:11-19 demonstrates that nothing heals like gratitude.

I witnessed this truth firsthand as I turned to leave Arches.

The supervisor yelled back to her kitchen crew. “El hombre dice que le da las gracias por su arduo trabajo durante la pandemia.”

Applying the context, I understood her to say, “The man says thank you for your hard work during the pandemic.”

From my exit door, I overheard her crew respond with warm tones of surprise.

I don’t speak Spanish, and perhaps neither do you, but this Labor Day, we can all speak Gratitude. It’s a universal language. Say it. Express it. And teach it. It will forever heal.

Read past columns at Contact Norris at or 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602 or voicemail (843) 608-9715.