From a Place Where We Can’t Be Seen

We, are Emory University

A leading research institution, innovators in teaching and healthcare

Our students are among the brightest

Guided by wisest of faculty

But who are we?

New buildings and greenery break through concrete

Those that remain we tame as the day wears on

Our presence is present even after the day has gone.

We, are the carpenters, custodians,

landscape professionals, plumbers, painters,

electricians and engineers

and food service workers

The ideas of Emory you have constructed

Are from our construction

Could you imagine an Emory

That was not molded by our hands?

Beyond the work orders and the long shifts,

We too deserve acknowledgement

This community you speak of, are we a part of it?

We are awake before early mornings

And 8 AM lectures

Traveling from homes

That stretch beyond the confines of the Decatur that you know

With floors mopped

And vegetables chopped

Prepared and waiting

Behind my work is a family

With jokes and teasing that fills up a day’s shift

And smiles gleaming between us

Don’t you see us?

I am me.

I may be 22, 32, or even 52, but I am still me.

I may be working here until graduation, or trying to make ends meet, yet, I am me

To the common observer, we are grouped together as food service laborers, defined solely by our job description  

But no one ever pays attention to our underlying intentions

We are who we are because of each of our circumstances

But you will only ever recognize that fact, by taking chances

So take a chance, step out of your comfort zone

Erase all of those assumptions and challenge yourself to venture into the unknown

I am here, waiting for you to finally meet me

When will they learn?

When will they understand that my body isn’t the token mule to toil without rest.

When will they learn that with just a little more resources, we’d all be able to do our best.

When will they learn that I’m more valuable than my hands and feet, remembering my mind, my soul, and my spirit contain more meat.

I’m an employee, but I’m a person.

I have cares just like everyone else.

I have burdens and grief,

yet I am forced to push on.

I press towards a better future

one where my father isn’t suffering

and my mother isn’t stressed.

One where I own my own business

and no longer have to answer to anyone else.

One when students finally realize

that we are here to be of service

and not a hindrance.

Or when management goes the distance

and begins to uplift us

and acknowledge our brilliance

Remember. My. Name.

Why can’t. You. Remember. My. Name?

You aren’t so different than me.

I stand behind this food

you behind your desk

Your white shirt doesn’t make you superior

They come upstairs trying to tell us what to do.

But do you even know what’s going on?

Excuse me but I have people to feed.

Why are you watching me?

I do my job good


Why do you look at me the way you do, Mr. Bossman?

I’ve made some friends here.

A couple of them are on my commute

We try to look out for each other

We’re coming from the same places,

All just trying to make things work.

Everyone back here is nice to each other.

We gotta pass the time somehow,

Only thing that makes the time go,

Is listening to the stories people got.

Remember our names.

One time,  

A student asked me what my name was.

She wore her hair just like my daughter.

For four years

Each time she saw me

She said my name.

She was so sweet.

She’s graduating this year.

My children are all grown up,

But every year I get a whole new set of babies.

They know my name.

She reminds me of my daughter.

Like mothers and cousins and friends

We are the consolers, the caretakers, and everything in between

Ensuring that your food is warm and your hallways are clean

It is not only our work but our warmth

That take these buildings beyond cold stone

Our service we share here and at home

You, matter.

You have influence.

You are a huge part of people’s days.

You make contributions in more than one way.

Valuable, is the work you do.

Without, You, there is no community.

Regardless of the circumstance you always come through.

Loyal, sincere, and full of good cheer.

Untiring in your efforts throughout the year

Effective in the way you fulfill your role

You, matter.