Saturday, February 10, 2024

Just Sayin' by Liz Flaherty

Thanks to Shannon Conley for giving me the prompt for today's post! 

She shared something from Stephanie Schmick on Facebook about hair stylists that was really good, and there was a line in there that caught my attention.  

"what’s the big deal, you are just a hair stylist..."


When I was young, just a housewife wasn't a pejorative term. It was actually kind know...nice. A housewife took care of her family, her home, whatever got in her way that needed doing. It was a multifaceted job that had no beginning and no end. If she'd gotten paid for everything she did, no one could have afforded her, but many housewives loved what they did and were proud to do it. 

Somewhere along the line, the just in her job got ugly. She somehow wasn't as important as women who worked "real jobs." Jokes about lying on couches eating bonbons followed them around.  As time went on, women who worked outside the home became "just part-time moms who used school for a babysitter."

Even when I watched that happen, I didn't give it much thought. I was "just a postal worker" for 30 years. I write "just romance" instead of "real books." I've known and worked with many, many "just factory workers." Some of my kids are "just teachers." I've heard the term "just a bunch of farmers" used when talking about anyone rural.

And these. All of these.

Just dumb jocks.

Just flips burgers.

Just a bartender.

Just the maid at the hotel.

Just a server.

Just a girl.

Just a bunch of kids.

Just the trash guy.

Just a cashier.

Just a nurse.

Just an employee.

Just a mom.

I call B. S.

No one is just anything. No one. Every one of the people I listed here--and a bunch of others I didn't think of--have something in common. They make a difference in other people's lives. Many of them do what others either can't or don't want to.

A Logansport Community Schools bus driver named Crystal Miller handed out pencils to the students on her bus engraved with the message, "I am unique and valuable” and the number 9-8-8, which is the suicide crisis hotline. The driver was worried about "her kids" because a nearby student had taken his own life.

At some point, I wonder if someone has referred to her as just a bus driver.

I remember when I was in school how the custodians cleaned up after us. They knew us by name, cleaned up when someone was sick, and put up with things we never would have gotten by with at home. During memorable Senior Weeks in days gone by, they followed us and our squirt guns through the hall with mops. Shaking their heads and laughing and wishing us their best as we went forward.

I wonder if any of us ever called them just janitors. I so hope not.

I don't remember when I first heard the term just a nurse, but I'm certain it was made by no one who ever knew one, loved one, needed one, or saw one at work. 

This morning I'm just a columnist hoping you have a good week. Be nice to somebody. 


  1. Good, good post. I'm not just a writer or just an editor--I'm a great writer and a fabulous editor... thanks for the reminder, Liz!

  2. Well here's one your just a great writer I love everything you do no one should put down anyone for the job they do to make other people happy

    1. Aw, thanks. I don't think most people who say "just a" mean it as a put-down, but it sure sounds that way sometimes!

  3. From Donna Cronk: This is fabulous, Liz. So very true. We all play our roles in this big drama called life. The smartest Ph.D in the world would likely be lost without the services of a plumber or electrician or auto mechanic. And on it small parts, just small actors on this stage.

  4. I was a substitute teacher for 15 years, and have 5 years of classroom teaching experience. I can't count how many times I was told, when subbing, that I was not a "real teacher," sometimes by other teachers! Everyone deserves respect, no matter what their position in life.

  5. When I managed a grocery store, I would often hear customers make comments 'he's just a bagger' or 'she's just a cashier'. Truth be told, those are two of the most important jobs in a grocery store. 'He just stocks shelves' or 'she just packages cookies' and so many other jobs there were looked at that way. It's funny that when I started writing, I made it a point not to use the word 'just'. It means behaving according to what is right and fair. In my honest opinion, that has nothing to do with our professions. It has to do with us as people. If you are respectful, kind, helpful, and 'just', then you are 'just' right! Thanks for the post - sometimes things 'just' need to be said!

    1. I have to do a global search to lessen the number of "justs" I have in a manuscript. Every time!

  6. Love this post! We're all so much more than "just" anything, and yet sometimes, we're our own worst "just-ers." I love that Nan named it and claimed it: I'm pretty darn good at what I do and who I am.

    1. You're right--we often do it to ourselves, don't we? I will try not to do that.