I’ve heard it said that mothers would do anything for their children and family. I’m not a mom but don’t know many moms who wouldn’t agree with that. But, what exactly does that mean? If you found yourself in a predicament where your family’s safety was at risk, would you be willing to do whatever it might take to get them into a stable environment and out of harm’s way?
This story is about an experience I have had with a couple of moms which takes place right in the heart of our company. I’m sharing this with permission from those involved because I think extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. I believe we are in extraordinary times.
Not to overuse the word but I’m about to tell you about some women who are at the top of the extra-extraordinary list. Why? Because they were willing to risk it all for the ones that they loved and they did so with no concern for themselves. In my book, those people are called heroes
I will go ahead and confess that I know I sometimes go around the world to tell a story. Short and sweet has yet to be my style. I hope you will stick with me on this one and leave knowing something you didn’t know when you began reading especially if you fall into the Super Hero category called MOM.
We have struggled at times to find people to work for us. Lee is one of the hardest working people I know but he cannot do everything and so in the course of our business we have hired others to come to our plant and help. We’ve had some good ones and bad ones.
There was Rooster — a 50-plus-year-old man. Something was off with him and I knew that but we didn’t know exactly what that was until the day I walked out on the floor to see Rooster peeing in the trash can. He was drunk.
There was Ronald — who would miss work and then come in and want to tell us every detail about his explosive diarrhea. Even when you told him that you did not want to know he would continue to nervously rattle on with the sordid details.
There was Billy — who came in and stole a whole lot of Lee’s power tools and admitted it after I bluffed and said I had proof and the sheriff’s office was on the way to take him in. He made a call and his preacher came and stood with him as he confessed. The preacher then paid us back but Billy obviously had to go.
There were countless others who wouldn’t show up or did not want to work or who tried to cheat the time clock or you fill in the blank. It probably wouldn’t be far off from some of our experiences. Admittedly, our work isn’t the most exciting place and can be hard. It is a strenuous hands-on type of labor that requires one to get dirty and hot and or cold but most of all it requires some serious effort.
To be fair, I’m sure we haven’t always been the best to work for and I have no idea what life circumstances any of the above were facing that might have made them do the things they did. I know our lives have been desperate at times and so I’m not trying to sound all critical and judgmental.
Now that I have given you the background and probably too much information I want to get to the real point of this story. I want to talk to you about a mom and a group who are near and dear to my heart ““ Latinos ““ or as a lot of people I know call them — Mexicans. The truth is they could also be from Honduras, Guatemala or a whole host of other places.
A lot of people I know say “they are here taking American jobs, they milk the system, or they are breaking the law.” While I respect the person’s perspective who says that, I see it from a completely different perspective and I lay down a plea for anyone who thinks that to try and see it another way.
The picture above is a mom and her sweet son. I first knew her as Trisha Cole. She came to us back in the early part of the turn of this century. We had hired a Hispanic worker (a mom) who had been laid off from a local and reputable company. That worker had documents and was on her way to becoming a permanent resident. She told this other mom about our company and suggested that we needed some help. We did. Trisha spoke no English but needed a job. Back then things were different. There was no E-Verify and Trisha had what we were required to have to hire her. Trisha worked a day and then her husband called to say she couldn’t work with us anymore.
The next day the husband brought Trisha to my office where they explained that her name was not really Trisha but Claudia. While she was desperate for a job she couldn’t deceive us. I explained that I appreciated her honesty more than we could tell her. It was refreshing after the crew we had been dealing with. She was shocked when I said we wanted her to work for us anyway. She didn’t just work — she and her Hispanic coworker ran circles around us. She paid taxes even though she knew she would not get anything in return.
I wish I had taken photos. Claudia and her coworker brought their little ones to work and put them in the shopping carts we used to move our parts back and forth on the floor. One of those is the sweet boy with her in the photo. Some might call him an anchor baby — we call him Joshua and a gift from God.
Her two little girls would come and sit in our break room so they didn’t have to have to go to daycare. They colored and played while the moms worked on the floor with the babies. The children’s innocence, laughter and love enriched our lives. I was happily introduced to a world I had never seen before. Thank God for that!
When we were having some of the worst times I could always count on my moms. When corporate America left our small business hanging, it was our moms who saw us through.
Americans have heard the horror stories of how bad Latinos/Mexicans are. I’ve been blessed and mortified to hear another side of the story. I am not sure I know a mother alive who wouldn’t do what these women do and have done to get their children to someplace safer.
I’ve heard how Americans hire them at lower wages and threaten to have them deported if they tell anyone. One small business I know had a worker practically cut his finger off. The company owner responded by threatening to call immigration if he told anyone.
There was the Hispanic family who was legally living stateside and decided they wanted to go visit Mexico. They were greeted by a group not too far past the border who robbed them. That wasn’t enough. This group of men also demanded to keep their teenage daughter while the family was forced to go get more money. The family pleaded and begged to be released. They were told they had to go but not the teenage girl. She had to stay. They had weapons, so what could the family do? With no other choice, they went to get ransom money. When they returned the young girl was in a catatonic state having been gang-raped by these men.
How could anyone blame moms for wanting to escape a world such as that?
When I hear people talking about all these “illegals”, I think of the Latino moms I know and their sweet children.
Claudia has since gotten her papers but the truth is if she hadn’t, we would have kept her anyway. I would move Heaven and Earth for her. We’ve had our differences just all people do, but when it comes right down to it I know I can always count on her and I pray she knows she can always count on me. I am a better person because of her and her family
One of my favorite phrases is you don’t know until you know. I’ve spent a lifetime learning that. I believe with everything that I am that if you knew what it felt like to be in Claudia’s shoes, you might see the world a little differently. The only real natives in this country are Native Americans. The rest of us are all immigrants.
I pray that we someday find common ground and learn to see others not as threats but as human beings who are just trying to survive. Many of them are her and if you knew her you wouldn’t see her as a former “illegal” you would see her as I see her. She is a Mom.