Stuck between a retaining wall and a hard place

As you know, we had a retaining wall built because our backyard sloped so much we never could really utilize it. I was hoping for the work to be complete before BoyGeeding’s birthday party a few Saturday’s ago so I could “impress” the in-laws and avoid any work on the wall during the party, but that didn’t happen, no biggie.  Part of me thought having the crew continue their work on a Saturday during the party would be a good thing since my father-in-law would like to check out the construction and he’s the kind of guy that has never met a stranger, so I knew he would enjoy talking to the crew.

While we were having our BoyGeeding’s birthday party we noticed one of the crew had his wife, two elementary aged kids, and one 5-month old in their truck. They stayed inside the truck the entire time. I’m not one to complain, but it made things really awkward having a party inside when an entire family was just stuck in a truck.  The weather was nice and all, but just sitting inside a truck for about seven hours can’t be comfortable.  I’m assuming the father who was working on the wall didn’t want to create any awkwardness or get in trouble with his boss or make us feel uncomfortable. My father-in-law noticed and had WifeGeeding make some sandwiches and pour some lemonade, and they both took them out there.  WifeGeeding was actually brought to some tears at one point, those kids needed to get some energy out and she was concerned for that five-month-old.  After the party we pulled some outdoor play toys for those kids to play with, like a small plastic slide and playhouse, in an area right next to the truck but away from the work, you know, safety reasons and al. The mother really didn’t want her kids to leave the truck, but we just felt for those kiddos and tried to invite them inside to watch the Olympics. I talked to the crew head and told him I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble, but those kids need to get out and play. We have no idea how they would have eaten or used the bathroom for that amount of time. For the seven or so hours they were here, I’d say only an hour was spent outside the truck, and that was at our urging.

No work was performed on Sunday but on Monday that male crew member brought his five-month-old and four-year-old because the sitter was on vacation.  Both stayed in the truck almost the entire time.  As a matter of fact, you can even see her in the timelapse video.  At one point I saw the little girl leave the truck and urinate in the alley. I was trying to hide this from WifeGeeding so I brought some toys as well as some food and drinks, but when WifeGeeding found out, she actually babysat or looked after them on the back porch. She feared taking them out of view in case some bogus claim was made. That poor baby appears to have been stuck in the car seat for just about the whole time and was a bit warm, but didn’t seem to be uncomfortable and never cried.

I struggled on what to do.  Once was bad enough, but this happened twice and we were concerned about the well being of the kids.  Yes, we were uncomfortable, but those kids just didn’t seemed properly cared for.  If I talk the owner, the crewman might lose his job, which he he needs to support the family. The kids weren’t in danger, but certainly weren’t put in the best of conditions. On the other hand, not only does the owner have a right to know for various professional reasons, but those kids deserve better than being stuck in a truck for a morning and afternoon without nourishment or access to a bathroom. While they might not have been suffering, it didn’t seem humane, at least by our American standards.

The owner came over the next day to inspect the work and I thought the moral thing to do was tell him what I observed because the kids’ interests should be first, at least that’s how I justified it. I took him aside and asked how long that worker has been a part of his crew and complimented his work and friendliness. It turns out it was his first project at his company. I went on to tell the owner I don’t want anyone to be in trouble or get fired, and I understood the man needs this job to support his family, and I explained that the professionalism kinda stuff didn’t bother me, but the situation the kids were put in broke our hearts.  He was very understanding and thanked me for informing him and apologized.  What I appreciated the most was that his highest concern was the well being of the kids.

I’m left feeling a bit awkward about the situation, wondering if I did the right thing, thankful my kids are fortunate, concerned about the crewman’s family, and hoping everything works out.

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6 Responses to Stuck between a retaining wall and a hard place

  1. Bryan says:

    Man, that is incredibly awkward, but you did the right thing. Better for the owner to find out that way than after something bad happened. I am incredibly thankful that we can afford high quality child care for my daughter and I really feel terrible for people that are in a situation like that worker. I have respect for you for doing what you did and even more for sharing it here.

  2. Steve says:

    Some people just mind their own business.

    You can save every stray dog you see, but it doesn't make a dent in the stray dog population.

    There's a lot about Mexican culture you will never get. Either ignore it or work towards your government ensuring that they keep or leave their culture south of the Rio Bravo. But feel-good (bad) stories about it is a dead-end approach.

    Don't mean to be too preachy or anything, but I lived in rural Mexico for 15 years. I know something about that culture

  3. Tackle Box says:

    " You can save every stray dog you see, but it doesn't make a dent in the stray dog population."

    I agree with you that it doesn't make a dent in the stray dog population, but it does help the stray dogs you saved.

    I didn't read the post as a "feel-good(bad) story" but rather as dilemma as to what is the best course of action to take. There are so many variables, including ones that are not apparent, that it is just as painful to do something as to do nothing. I was happy to read that you made the effort and pondered your choices rather than be so desensitized that you just shrugging it off.

  4. Gary says:

    That's an interesting story and to me you probably did the right thing. You never know, but it's better coming from someone with concern and compassion than the next job where a homeowner might pitch a fit and really cause problems for the worker.

  5. Guest says:

    Your agonizing over the action reveals the heart of God and doing the "right" thing. Whether you ultimately chose option a, b, or c is not important as only a " righteous" choice can result from a righteous wrestle. Similar to a Loving Father not being able to father bad children because a loving Father can't father something he's not, you can't chose a bad option from a genuine (Godly) struggle. Keep on keeping on, Geeding… you're a good man.

  6. Ricardo Perry says:

    Sorry some may have a misconception that it is a "Mexican culture" thing. It is more of a have vs have-nots, poor people, don't know better, or don't have other option kind of thing. I have lived around other peoples for 40 years and have observed these kind of situations from different folks. Being Latino (Mexican-American, or hispanic, 3rd generation Tejano or whatever label is of the fashion), I think I have a keen insight into the culture clash.

    That said, BOG, you all did the right thing in offering the children some comfort. I am sure the workman was not comfortable about your offers, but it shows grace.

    As for notifying the boss, that is a tough call. I would have done the same thing and hope for the best.

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