Do all Heroes Breathe?

We just had to replace our fridge. It happens, but this refrigerator put forth a heroic service. We bought it in about 1983 and it kept our food cold through five presidencies. Now, the ice maker only lasted about half that and a grille at the base just would not reattach, but the milk and ice cream stayed at the proper temperatures. The end was near when the sealing began leaking cold air at the holidays, and it had to work harder and harder and the exhaust warmed the linoleum.

But it made it without failing, and a new one was brought in to replace the leaking veteran. Sadly the brand is not as widely sold anymore after acquisitions and slipped standards.  I couldn’t get it now.

But can an appliance be heroic?

It doesn’t have the human failings that make human heroes all the greater. It doesn’t feel pain… but it is affected by the ravages of age. The wrong things begin to leak, it passes unsafe gas, and everything sags. It is free of feeling pain, but it doesn’t complain as it struggles on. That would be a greater virtue if it could.

So if objects can’t be heroes, some heroes made it possible for that milk, meat, frozen pizza, medicine, formula, frozen coffee, and rolls of film to safely stay cool for over thirty years. (not the same ketchup, just to make that clear) These people, sadly nameless and anonymous after this many years of retirements and corporate buyouts, did a trojan job, under-appreciated those decades. Now I salute them, because that is the honest everyday heroism of doing a good job and they made something they should be proud of.

We need more of that, people making something for the future that can be passed down through the generation. People, especially politicians like to talk about our children’s future, but out future depends on more than the abstracts but also the concrete. Stock may appreciate and vacations make good memories, but would all all our lives be better if everything we bought was made with that kind of quality and pride? I want to celebrate the heroes whose workmanship then was their heroism… whether making a cabinet, writing tested-clean code, or making underwear that measures the same on both sides. We tolerate shoddy workmanship and poor service because that is the new standard.

The heroes are the ones who did it right, may more of us try to be heroes.