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Guest host Chana Joffe-Walt talks to a carpenter whose job output went from fixing doors to something more urgent in the last year. (9 minutes)

Act One: Three Bottles of Joy

Station agent Moneta Lewis worked underground to shepherd disappearing commuters during the darkest days of the pandemic.

Act Two: The $25 Tip

The pandemic forced restaurant server Shelly Ortiz to put on her “Covid Goggles.” What she saw through them made her reevaluate her ideas of what’s important.

Act Three: Teacher Number Four

In Maine, early childhood educator Miss Jordyn Rossignol had several members of her workforce quit. But none hit her quite as hard as Shania.

Act Four: 12 Million Thank You Meals

What does “thank you” actually look like? And who gets one? For Flato Alexander and other essential workers, all sorts of symbols that hadn’t bothered them much before suddenly became unbearable.