Last week I was in Columbus, Ohio for United Methodist Women Assembly. Over 6,000 women gathered for worship, study and workshops on how to put our faith, hope and love into action. This week I’m at a required training for pastors. Next week I’ll be at the Texas Annual Conference in Houston, Texas. It’s a season of travel!
It’s easy when traveling to miss how many people work behind the scenes. For example, I rode on a bus with other women from my state to the UMW Assembly. For that ride alone there was a whole team of people who made that possible. First, the woman who organized the group also called the bus company. The people at the bus company had staff who answered the phone, who input our data, who scheduled the drivers, and the drivers themselves. There were the people who worked at the Walmart where we stopped for coffee and the restrooms. There were the staff who work for the state rest areas where we stopped for breaks. Staff of the restaurant where we stopped for lunch. Staff of the restaurants where we ate dinner once we arrived. Staff of the hotel who checked us in. Hotel staff who received the food delivery, staff who prepared the breakfasts, staff who cleaned our rooms, staff who answered all our questions. Conference center staff who worked for months prior to our arrival. City staff who set out welcome signage for UMW. Conference center staff who received deliveries, staff who prepared lunches, staff who prepared and set up coffee stations, staff who cleaned the bathrooms. Delivery drivers for all the display materials, all the food, all the a/v equipment. Technicians who set up all the a/v equipment, translators and those who set up their equipment. And all these people worked before we even had the opening worship!
United Methodist Women participated in an action at the Ohio state capital grounds for a Living Wage for All People. Standing there in the rain, singing and praying and advocating for a living wage brought to mind all those people who work behind the scenes when I travel. It is really easy to miss just how many people are working to make things smooth when we travel. The housekeepers who make our rooms clean and comfortable so we can rest between sessions, for example. Housekeepers work when we are out of the room, so we don’t see them. Some wise women taught me years ago (at another UMW Assembly!) to leave a cash tip for the housekeepers every day that they clean your room. Always saying thank you to people during travel is a good practice as well. No matter how frustrated or tired I may be, extending thanks helps me to remember how many other people I won’t see that also deserve my gratitude.
An attitude of gratitude when traveling reminds me that all these people working behind the scenes are made in the image of God. They are beloved. They deserve to have a living wage. People deserve to have equitable compensation for their work so that they have enough food on the table and a safe place to live. The current minimum wage in Ohio results in a full-time annual income of just $17.264 – and many people working for minimum wage struggle to be given enough hours for full-time employment.
As you make plans for travel, whether for conferences, seminars or short-term mission trips, consider all the people who work behind the scenes. Prayerfully consider how hard people work to make sure your experience happens smoothly, and do some research to find out what the living wage and the minimum wage are in the area you visit. Remember to thank the people who you see, and offer a prayer of gratitude for those you do not see who make your travel possible.