By Judy Reiss
Back in the day, I owned and operated a day care center based at the Sugarbush Ski Area. For those of you with a long memory, it was the first type of childcare center at a ski area in the country. I was very proud of it and worked very hard to make it the best place for a child to spend their day – both local children and the children of skiers. As I look back, I am glad that I retired when I did. Because as the rules changed on how you could take care of a child, I would have found it very hard to change, too. I believed then and I believe now that a hands-on approach worked, letting the child know you cared about him or her and you weren’t just a paid overseer. And with all that in mind, there are many things these days that I find amazing.
When you have your television on these days, along with the literally hundreds of commercials, have you noticed the announcements that tell you to think back, and that the job either you or your elderly loved one might have had was a killer? And that is what I want to ask you about today.
Just as an example, my father worked at DuPont in Newark, New Jersey his entire life. He was unable to go to college because of the Great Depression and so he began as the mail boy at DuPont right out of high school. Until he retired at 65, he worked at that plant which made pigment and paint. As I look back, I have no idea how many “bad” fumes he probably inhaled over those long years. Although he complained about his job and the horrible drive he had to make each day, he actually liked his job and was very supportive of DuPont. He thought and I think that he always knew of the chances he took with all those fumes, but it was just the chances you took.
If you watch those announcements on TV there are very few jobs that people took “back in the day” that didn’t entail risk. How many people worked with asbestos? It was considered the way to insulate all sorts of things. And to get a job, that meant you had to work with it. That was just the way it was. Of course, now we know that asbestos was a bad thing and many workers are now hired to remove it from schools, buildings, etc. and wherever it was first put in. But what I don’t understand is how can we now go back and sue the builders, contractors and whoever else it was who contracted to use asbestos? I don’t think that a contractor knew that it was probably cancer causing and deliberately put their workers at risk. Unfortunately, I think that it wasn’t known at the time and the workers who handled it got paid to do so and it evidently was a risk that was taken.
And there doesn’t seem to be any job that people had that is now open to a lawsuit. No one seems able to take responsibility for their own decisions, even when the risk wasn’t known at the time.
It seems to me that we are saying that no one is responsible for anything anymore! If you are unhappy with an outcome, don’t worry, you can always sue! Don’t misunderstand me, I do think that those who go out of their way to mislead should be held responsible. What I do think is that many things that we find out today were wrong and/or bad need to be taken into context. No one knew back then so it is hard to hold their feet to the fire today. We are so much smarter today than we were 50-60 years ago, at least technologically that I think it is unfair to be able to sue them today for what we didn’t know then. And that folks, is all I have to say about that.