Please read the following message from our CEO & Director for Corporate and Economic Partnerships at Mississippi State University, Mike Tagert, that was originally published as an opinion editorial piece in the Starkville Daily News on May 19, 2020.
The SEC Gameday football crew has visited our university many times over the years. Each time, they’ve doted on our university and community as being “one of the most hospitable” and sometimes “the friendliest.” It’s no small matter to make such an impression, and it’s even harder to maintain it.
Such positive comments from visitors have been made because of their brief interaction with the many service workers within our community – their hotel receptionist, their wait staff at a local restaurant, or a clerk at the convenience store. These frontline employees have always served as unofficial ambassadors for our community, working to maintain the positive impression that we all value. This group of service workers goes well beyond just those who visitors might see while here for the weekend. Our retail shops, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware and supply stores, and many others all have employees who continue working and providing the same goods and services that we, and visitors alike, need on a daily basis. We’ve always owed much to this group of employees, although I doubt that we’ve always adequately recognized their contributions.
Throughout the pandemic, those same friendly faces have continued to serve, not for visiting Bulldog fans but, just for us. Unfortunately, they’re not making that positive impression on many visitors at this time, but they are certainly making an impression on me and others. During the course of any given day, I find myself in front of the cashier, the bagger at the grocery store, or the front desk clerk just to purchase the essentials. During the many stages of the ongoing pandemic, these employees have continued to serve customers daily to keep the community moving, despite the uncertainty of the public health crisis.
Unfortunately, most visitors are on hold for now, but hopefully we’ll see our extended Bulldog family and the Gameday Crew sooner than later. In the meantime, the good work of these employees continues. As we are appreciative to so many first responders who have sustained us during this time, let’s not forget to be grateful for our sometimes-overlooked frontline service workers as well. You can do so by being patient, saying thank you, and by continuing to shop locally when possible.