It never ceases to amaze me how pleasantly surprised people are when they interact with you.

When a coworker’s car broke down on a side street, the only person who stopped to help was a Village of Addison (Ill.) public works employee. When a friend called to find out whether or not a dying tree was on her property, the Village of La Grange (lll.) public works director called her back. The same day. The tree was gone shortly thereafte

I'm sure these two men didn't think anything of it. They were just doing their job.

I think people are surprised to see that a “government employee” looks like them. Walks and talks like them. Listens. Asks questions. Tries to solve their problem. Interacts.

That’s why this annual event is so important: National Public Works Week humanizes the men and women who do thankless work. Work that enables everyone else to live their lives instead of scrambling for basic necessities.

Our May cover story profiles three departments that use the week to open residents’ eyes to this relationship.

What are you doing? Email me at sjohnston@hanleywood.com.

And have a great week.