With most of the Midwest and the entire Northeast of the United States experiencing winter weather alerts today, it only seems fitting to pay our respects to one of the daily unsung heroes of the air travel experience: the de-icers.

The dreaded announcement, “We will be experiencing a delay while we wait for our aircraft to be de-iced,” sends chills to most passengers. The mere muttering of those words tests the patience of all on board and often brings fright from images of iced over wings trying to take flight.

Through the thick winter air, the de-icers appear. Walking slowly through the fog like a slow motion scene from a gangster movie, the de-icers survey the scene. While all other life forms dart for warm cover, de-icers move right into the heart of the storm, braving the elements with Clint Eastwood like bravado.

With wand in hand, they comb every inch of the iced aircraft, spraying the harsh pink fluid with deadly accuracy.

I’ve watched this scene from an aircraft window many times over the years. I love to think of the de-icers as the renegade tough guys of the airport world. In moments when the air travel world gets overcome with obstacles, delays and cancellations, it’s healthy to remember the often unsung workers that are toiling hard behind the scenes to keep our schedules moving.

Even in the midst of obvious airline inefficiencies and opportunities for improvements, it serves the world to see value in all who are working hard for us daily.

Thank you to those who perform their particular job with excellence. Even though we often wish our plane could be taking off quicker, thank you de-icers.

Jason Barger is author of Step Back from the Baggage Claim: Change the World, Start at the Airport.