In the book "The World Without Us," Alan Weisman hypothesizes what would happen to Earth if humans suddenly disappeared. We would leave behind skyscrapers, roads and pollution. Two days after human disappearance, Weisman speculates, the New York subways would flood because no crew would be underground pumping water out of the tunnels. Skyscrapers would eventually crumble to the ground without someone to keep steel from rusting and bolts from loosening.
Millions of workers are responsible for making our daily lives run smoothly. From the things we can't live without, like clean streets and transportation, to the luxuries that make our days bearable, such as prepared meals, we have a lot of people to thank. Here are just some of the unseen workers helping you throughout the day.
6:30 a.m. -- Alarm rings
The annoying buzz that wakes you up each the morning can only happen because you have electricity running through the wires in your home. Electrical power-line installers and repairers get power from electric plants to your home.
7:15 a.m. -- Grab your morning bagel
While you stand in line at the coffee shop to get your morning jolt and a bagel, take a glance up at the ceiling. Someone had to change the light bulbs in the fixtures at the crack of dawn so you wouldn't be standing there in the dark. Another person was up early baking pastries for the rush of morning customers.
7:35 a.m. -- Catch the bus
So the bus is late and you're standing with someone's armpit in your face because, as always, there are more riders than seats. Still, you're getting to work (almost) on time because the bus has good tires and a working engine that is checked regularly.
8:00 a.m. -- Sit down at your desk
If your coffee still hasn't taken effect, you might be cranky and not thinking clearly. So you probably sulked down the hall, to your desk, unaware that the walkway is clear and free of trash. Last night after you left, a cleaning crew had to pick up the balled up candy wrapper you poorly tossed at the trash and tidy up the snack room and restrooms.
12:00 p.m. -- Order lunch
At lunch, your boss orders the catch of the day. That means the salmon isn't a processed fishtick that came in a box and was thrown in the deep fryer. The chef had to go down to the market and select the freshest available fish, which someone caught and put on ice.
2:15 p.m. -- Have a meeting
Who: Tree trimmers
You're bored out of your mind in a conference room, looking out the window at a city employee who trims the trees lining streets. Without these workers, cars and buses would be knocking unkempt branches into the roads and onto sidewalks.
5:45 p.m. -- Pick up the mail
You grab your mail as you walk into your home. Even though you toss the bills on the table and choose to read the latest issue of your favorite magazine, you're glad your letters and credit card statements got to you. Postal workers get the mail from the trucks into the machines that sort your correspondences and hand them over to the letter carriers.
11:30 p.m. -- You're snoring
While you dream about the fun you'll have this weekend, a street sanitation truck roars down your block to get the discarded cigarette butts and mysterious stray shoe off the road before morning rush hour.
5:00 a.m. -- You pretend you're not awake
You woke up to use the restroom and now you can't fall back asleep. Still, with 90 minutes left until the alarm rings, you won't budge from that bed. Meanwhile, a delivery person is putting your newspaper at your front door. To make that newspaper happen, reporters had to file stories, editors cleaned them up, printers ran them and someone else put them on the truck to deliver to businesses and subscribers.
Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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