Opinion on my parents' behavior?

<p>Okay, I'm just wondering if I'm being overly sensitive or if anyone else does find something unsettling in this. </p>

<p>Our front yard was a wreck. Overgrown weeds, pests, etc. But seeing as we live in a pretty large house, we have two entryways, so the we avoided taking care of that by going through the other door. (Well, it wasn't so much avoided as it was my parents being busy working and my father getting deathly ill this past year, so he can't do much by way of yard work). </p>

<p>Anyway, we're hosting a party soon, and we needed to have the front taken care of. So my parents called someone to take a look at it and get a quote of how much it would cost. They got an estimate of somewhere around $500. Since we've been on a tight budget lately, they called a friend and arranged to...Well, basically, they hired some most likely illegal immigrants to do it at a cheaper price. My parents drove downtown to pick them up and bring them here, they were paid under the counter, in cash. </p>

<p>I do not want to start a debate on illegal aliens and whatever; I'm asking about the ethics of what occurred when it came time to pay these two guys. They came early this morning and worked for nearly 10 hours straight, cleaning the yard with only a few breaks to eat the lunch we bought them. My parents paid them each $60. It appears that there was some miscommunication about what payment would be, and the men tried to explain themselves, but couldn't because they couldn't speak English very well. My mom, at her most patronizing, gave them each ten bucks more and said, "Because I'm a nice person." Then she asked them if they were happy and waited for them to say yes.</p>

<p>This made me extremely angry, to see two grown men being talked down to by my mom. I honestly felt like puking. But I didn't do anything. What's worse is that I actually understand Spanish very well, and knew they were explaining that they wanted to be paid by the hour. When we both went into the house, my mom faltered a bit and asked me, "Do you think I paid them too little?" I let her know how I felt; that they weren't being paid enough for their work, and she considered this, but then said, "Life is hard." Now my parents are driving them home. </p>

<p>Am I overrreacting? I just can't shake that "something isn't right" feeling. But it isn't my money and I can't tell my parents what to do with it, and at this point, there isn't much I can do. But they worked very hard, and I hated how my mom felt/acted so superior when she was dealing with them...</p>

<p>I don't know, is this worth discussing further with them?</p>

<p>I think thats completely wrong. What about their families? I think they completely took advantage.</p>

<p>Sometimes teenagers (who may be illegal) ask to shovel our driveway when it snows as some extra cash. They're quick and they're trying to work, my dad always pays them extra than what they wanted and we are by no means rich or even close to it. My family struggles a bit, which is probably why whenever we go out, we over tip, or during holidays put extra money in the tip jars.</p>

<p>At work during the holidays we have a tip jar. Usually the people to not tip are the ones in big fur coats or fancy suits. Usually the average joe or dirty just-got-out-of-hard-work people are the ones who leave significant tips.</p>

<p>If they had enough money to hire them in the first place, they should have been able to pay them properly and $60 each for that much work is taking advantage (and wrong imo), regardless of their immigrant status.</p>

<p>I would talk to them about it, honestly.</p>

I just can't shake that "something isn't right" feeling. But it isn't my money and I can't tell my parents what to do with it, and at this point, there isn't much I can do. But they worked very hard, and I hated how my mom felt/acted so superior when she was dealing with them...


<p>You've got good instincts here. Yes, it's your parents' money, and you can't tell them what to do with it. It's likely that you'll act differently when you're in a similar situation someday. </p>

<p>Sometimes people act this way when they're feeling uncomfortable with their own actions. Your mom may well have been acting superior because she realized that she wasn't paying the men a fair wage. Plus, many in the US (if that's where you live) don't feel entirely comfortable with hiring people to do household work. With 20-20 hindsight (and I am NOT blaming you or your parents here!), you could have maybe asked to speak privately with your mom, and then told her what the men were trying to convey. But if your parents were really on a tight budget and weren't expecting to pay more than $120 + lunch, it wouldn't have done anything but made your mother feel more guilty.</p>

<p>It doesn't sound like more discussion with your parents is going to change anything. You might want to propose that they hire you and a friend the next time that they need to get some yardwork done. Then they don't have to feel guilty (because one of the privileges of being a parent is exploiting your kids :) ), you'll earn a little money, and you'll avoid the entire guilt thing.</p>

<p>I don't know what the going rate is for illegals since I don't hire them (I don't want to support illegals - there are far too many of them around here) but several neighbors do and I thought the going rate was usually a bit more than minimum wage (sometimes higher) plus lunch depending on circumstances. Given that, what they were paid probably wasn't that far off and was perhaps not taking advantage of them. Don't forget that this isn't like a legal job where they'll pay income taxes - they won't so what they get to keep in their pocket is actually more than it seems. Also, most jobs wouldn't provide lunch so that's additional on top of the wage. In addition, they don't have the overhead of liability insurance like a legit company does so that's even more money in their pocket. Your parents should be thankful one of them didn't have an accident on their property.</p>

<p>I'm glad you're concerned about them. IMO anyone who works s/b paid a reasonable rate and from what I've seen most of these people usually work quite hard and earn what they receive. I don't think it's right to take advantage of them but as I stated above, they were probably reasonably paid for an unskilled laborer job, especially given that they keep it all without any deductions for taxes, SS, medicare, insurance, etc. It's always best to be quite clear about the compensation up front. With people who don't understand English well it's usually best to write it down on a piece of paper and show it to them. They can understand that much better than the words being spoken. That way everyone can agree up front and there'll be no disputes. I don't think anyone should behave arrogantly or feel superior to these people. I can't think of any justification for it but I think that applies to anyone in general. </p>

<p>I do think your parents should consider whether they want to continue to participate in encouraging illegal immigration and supporting the illegals along with all the ramifications and issues that result but I won't dwell on that subject.</p>

<p>$10/hr used to be standard before the recession. $6/hr seems pretty light for hard work. I'd say around $8/hr plus lunch and transportation would have been more fair. While it seems like little to many here, for them that's food for a family for a week or rent for a week. Your Mom was a little on the cheap side.</p>

<p>My question: do your parents also talk about how terrible it is that there are illegal immigrants living in this country? do they advocate building a wall to keep "them" out? are they worried about illegal immigrants getting "free" health care? Because if they do any of these things, your parents are shameless hypocrites.</p>

<p>Can you tell I'm appalled?</p>

<p>collegebound - are you so busy this summer that neither you nor your siblings could have taken care of the yard problem? The professional estimate of 500 bucks does not sound like you needed any heavy soil moving; it sounds to me that it was mostly cosmetic work (pulling weeds, etc.) which a teen can definitely do.</p>

<p>Next time something like this comes up, instead of going on the web and complaining that your parents are taking avantage of illegals, grab a shovel, put on some gloves, and do your best to keep illegal immigrants out of your yard.</p>

<p>I think your instincts are correct - the illegals got taken advantage of. I admire your willingness to tell your mom what you thought. Hard manual labor is worth at LEAST $10 per hour, probably more like $20, I don't care who the employee is. BTW, how much are your parents paying to host this party? If they can afford a party, can't they afford to pay a decent wage?</p>

<p>That said, Bunsen Burner has a point - is there a reason you and your siblings couldn't do the work?</p>

<p>I am appalled, too Your parents have enough money to hold a party but not enough to pay a decent wage to people who worked very hard for ten hours straight?
You have good instincts., I commend you. Hold on to them.</p>

<p>As you get older you will find your parents are not perfect, they don't always do the right thing. It is disappointing when you do find out. If you know it's wrong, maybe you wouldn't do the same someday.</p>

<p>I can't say I have always done the right thing in my life because I also like to take the easy way out sometimes. But having kids have kept me on the right track more. I do worry about not be a good person and have my kids be disappointed in me. Why don't you let you mother know how you feel, without been too confrontational, maybe she'll do better next time.</p>

<p>^^^^ Agreed. Parents are just people, and make flawed and bad decisions too. Perhaps the family finances are in worse shape than you know, and in a moment of panic they looked for the easiest way out.</p>

<p>I think you're absolutely right to be appalled, but if I were you I'd wait awhile to broach the subject. Most people I know go slightly crazy before a big party, so maybe wait until after, but be prepared to get an answer that's not terribly satisfactory. If they know they did something wrong then they'll probably be defensive, and if they don't know it then they're probably going to act like you just don't have a clue how the real world works. </p>

<p>My father-in-law actually used the "n" word in conversation with my sister-in-law recently. She was stunned and told him it was incredibly offensive. His response was,"Oh, people from my generation just use that word." She responded that she'd never, ever heard her parents use it. It certainly makes me think a little less of him every time he does it.</p>

<p>I am not appalled. Your parents were a bit cheap and took advantage. Could have been worse. They didn't stiff the workers entirely or call INS after they finished working.</p>

<p>Wow! What a scenario! hire workers, exploit them, then sic the INS on to them?</p>

<p>Tell your parents exactly how you feel. They could learn a thing or two from you.</p>

<p>The workers did not have a legal right to work here and your mother did not have a legal right to hire them, and since both parties were doing wrong it's a wash. What bothers me about the situation is not the amount your mother paid, but the manner in which it was paid. I would not have a problem if two workers agreed to do a job for sixty bucks each, regardless of how long it takes, or if they agreed to six dollars an hour each, and were paid for ten hours work. If the scope of the job and the price are agreeable to both parties, I don't think it's exploitive. What bothers me is that your mother sought out workers with whom she could not communicate, and did not agree to the price for the work before the work commenced. I think she used the language barrier to her advantage, and that is exploitive.</p>

<p>BunsenBurner- At this point, the yard was too much for my brother and I to even attempt to do anything about it. I'm not sure how to explain it to you, but it was nothing you could just pull out and pat soil over. </p>

<p>And they'd never done something like this (except once to pain the house), so I had no way of knowing what it would come to. </p>

I think she used the language barrier to her advantage, and that is exploitive.
dntw8up is offline


<p>I feel she did too... </p>

<p>And yes, I know my parents aren't perfect. Believe me, I know :]. But this was something that struck a particularly bad chord with me, and I just wanted to make sure my instinct was correct. Also, I've decided I won't bring up the subject again. My parents just returned, and they're tired and going crazy in preparation for this party. I didn't agree with what she did, but I guess I can give them the benefit of the doubt because I know exactly how crazy everything is right now. This definitely wasn't normal behavior for them. </p>

<p>Lafalum- They've set a budget of $500 max for this party... It's in my honor, a going away/18th birthday/late graduation party, and we're expecting a lot of guests.</p>

<p>More than the poor pay, I think it was the way she condescended to the men that was the more offensive aspect of the whole thing. If a person loses his dignity, what else does he really have? The whole issue of illegal aliens coming here to work is such a difficult and heartbreaking issue, so I won't even begin to try to address that. But, if you hire them to work for you, you should be willing to pay them a fair wage (what you minimally would hope to be paid if you were to do the same job), and for God's sake, treat them like adult human beings deserving of respect. That costs you absolutely nothing.</p>

<p>Shame on them. Your instincts are right-on.</p>

<p>It's too bad a party in your honor led them to act in such a way as to offend your sense of ethics!</p>

<p>By U.S. standards your Mom was a bit cheap and condescending. By the standards of their home country she was open handed and gracious. </p>

<p>Why do you think people come here?</p>

<p>Around home (rural Southern U.S.), the going rate is $8.00/hour (incuding lunch and transport) and well worth it.</p>

<p>How is the work situation for immigrants in your area? If your Mom diverted them from better paid work, they got a slightly less than optimun deal. If they were likely to have been idle, with no income, they did OK.</p>