I wrote about this on my Facebook timeline today (yesterday) but I know many of you don’t do Facebook so I thought I’d share it here. This morning (yesterday morning) , bright and early I had to take Martin, one of our indigenous workers, to the Seguro office to sign some paperwork for his Social security. And, on a side note before I get to the story I was planning to tell you, this young man is 20 years old and has a very young wife who is expecting their first baby, so getting on social security for the first time in his life could not come at a better time for he and his new family. Martin moved to Boquete, like many of the indigenous, in order to find work to support him an his new bride and growing family. Before he began working for us we had seen him around the neighborhood doing other menial labor for other neighbors. He had walked up to our job site on one other occasion to ask if we had work for him but at that time we didn’t. Then about a month or so ago he came by again ,(very persistent, gotta respect that!), to see if we had work for him and this time Scott hired him.
Martin is very young and much more timid than most of the other guys who have been working on our crew. I suspect its his first time living outside the Comarca. When Scott first tried to talk to him with his, less than perfect Spanish , he sort of looked at Scott with an expression of total confusion. You know, ‘deer in headlights’ kind of look! Hah! But he’s really strong and works steady and hard everyday. Its apparent that he really, really wants to work. So, I’m glad he’s getting the opportunity to have a job that pays him benefits, very likely his first such job, and now he’s actually able to get medical coverage for his wife. I was just talking to Scott the other day about how glad I am that we pay Social Security for our guys as well as all the many required benefits that one must pay in order to be totally on the up and up here as an employer. I know it costs us much more to do this but I feel so strongly that its so important to be honest and to do what is right and honorable, especially when it comes to the well being of a person who works so hard for us. And, like the title of this post, I strongly believe, “We’re all in this together”!
I imagined Martin going home to his wife tonight (last night) and telling her about our trip to the saguro office this morning, he most likely had no idea he would be getting medical benefits. He works hard and deserves to reap every benefit he is entitled to. It feels so good to know that we’re providing someone like Martin an opportunity to make his life a little bit better. And it just feels so right that we’re not trying to get cheap labor by skirting by and not paying what’s right and fair. I know it’s costing us more and there is a ton of paperwork that goes into all the book keeping for Social Security and benefits, but when I go to sleep at night knowing that someone like Martin and his young bride now have insurance for that new baby I sleep well.
And back to my regularly scheduled story…Ahem…sorry, I got a little side tracked! So I drove Martin down to the Seguro Office and when we got there , there was a car parked in the middle of the road (I know, it’s Panama, whatever! hah), so I decided to squeeze by the car off to the right. I drove onto what I ‘thought’ was tall grass….Oh no! Nope, not tall grass…a slippery, steep, ditch! ugh! I felt my car slide kinda sideways and down… then when tried to back out I could feel myself slide down further into the ditch! Ugh!! So, I stopped and got out.
My book keeper who was meeting us at the office was just walking up and I told her to go ahead and take Martin inside and I would figure this out. So off they went…but as they walked off I realized I was not alone! Me and my poor car were surrounded by several very concerned, kind Panamanian men. This is what I mean by,” We’re all in this together”. My fear and that terrible nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach began to go away when I realized I had a bunch of help. Now, normally I would begin to feel really nervous and shaky and those tears would begin to slowly well up in my eyes in a situation like this. But, somehow, with all these kind faces there by my side, I felt calm…..Tranquilo! Ahah! Even though I was not understanding everything they were saying , I knew all was well. I did catch the fact that four other people had also gotten stuck in the same place as me! I was reassured that I was not the only dumb Gringa around….whew! Good to know!
I also must add that, as luck would have it one of my dear friends, Andrea’s, Mother drove up right about this time! What a sweet lady she is, I felt like my mom was there with me. She was also there for one of her workers and waiting for her book keeper to meet her there. So She and I chatted and she made me laugh because I told her that I had called Scott and told him I was gonna call a tow truck and of course , in Scott fashion, he told me not to call the tow truck…”Let me take a look first”. I knew what that meant…He will figure it out himself! Just exactly what her husband would have done, Andrea has told me many things about her fathers do it yourself ways and I have a feeling he’s much like Scott.
My car was pretty badly stuck and I was sure I needed to just call for help. But I knew he’d kill me if I did that, so I waited for him to get there. This is a pretty small town and it didn’t take him long at all to come driving around the corner. He had another one of our workers with him, Federico. They got out of the car and Federico climbed down into the ditch on the side where my car was stuck and took a good look at the situation. I must add, Federico had a big grin on his face , I could tell he thought it was pretty funny! Humph! I stayed back out of the way and watched as several Panamanian men gathered around to discuss the plan of action with Scott and Federico. I swear, I think guys love this crap! hah! One man went to his car and came walking back with a Huge chain…Which they all proceed to connect the rear end of my car to the tow hitch on the back of Scotts truck. I handed my keys to one of the Panamanians and I got outta the way. I was pretty sure Scotts bumper was just gonna come flying right off but I kept my thoughts to myself as Scott began to slowly, (Suave, as the Panamanians were saying in unison), pull my car out of the ditch as the man in my car gave it a little gas. Hallelujah! They did it!!
Smiles all around! And a few chuckles from bystanders. Whew! They made it look so easy. And no damage done to my car! Yeah! I just love it when I get to have an experience like this and all ends well. I would have much preferred to not have gotten stuck in the ditch in the first place, but does it seem weird to you that I’m glad to have had the experience? I mean, Its such a vivid example of how “We’re all in this together!” You know what I mean? I mean, we live in a small town and even though Scott and I are new faces around here, local people were willing to take their time to help us. No one even hesitated to lend a hand and showed as much concern as if it had been their own wife or daughter or friend stuck in that darn ditch. It’s so nice to know we can count on the people in our new community to give us a hand when we fall in a ditch. Life is good! I plan to be a lot more careful about driving into what I assume is tall grass ….Ugh! Oh, and maybe I ought to invest in a big strong chain to keep in my car! Hah!