After a while, one other workman arrives and begins to do his work, applying earthquake reinforcement straps that tie the second floor to the first.
He is working in front of the first floor garage, on a ladder above the opening of said garage.
I am in the rear of the garage, drilling for a cableway.
Suddenly behind me I hear a loud crash,
Whipping around, I notice that the ladder is not in view any more.
I drop everything and run around a mountain of debris and waste that is in the middle of the garage.
There, on the concrete driveway, I see this fellow lying prostrate, face down, with the ladder on top of him.
As I near where he is, he shows evidence that he is conscious, but in pain. I attempt to ask him questions about how hurt he is.
He appears not to understand me. Of course, I am already aware that he speaks NO English. Even so, I try to use gestures and tone of voice to find out his condition. He eventually works his way to his feet. I get him a chair and encourage him to sit instead of standing. He is examining his elbow and right shin and leaning forward at times resting his head in his hands. Indicating his arm and leg, I try to find out if something is broken. I ask 'Broken' ? He shakes his head no. Gesturing I inquire if his head hit the pavement. He indicates that it did not. I have a first aid kit in the truck and some bandages are applied to his visible wounds. I ask if we should call his Boss. He understands the word 'Boss' I think and shakes his head no. I get a beverage out of the truck and give it to him.
He sits and sometimes stands and then after a while, resumes work.
I don't think I need this kind of excitement. It could however, have been far worse than it was. I seriously doubt his employer carries either health insurance or unemployment insurance for this worker.
I am confidant the guy is what is called an "undocumented immigrant". Why is his work desireable and more so than domestic employees ? Because it is cheap to hire him. No health insurance expense, no umemployment insurance, no Social Security Tax Deductions, no Income Tax records or Deductions. And a big plus, he likely works for less per hour than others would. Had he been seriously injured, his employer would not have borne the expense either directly or by insurance.
Instead, the entire society subsidizes the contractor who is technically ripping off workers and putting the cash saved into his own pocket, while the public at large and the overburdened hospitals shudder under the burden.
In Southern California, a respectable number of emergency rooms have closed, due to massive fiscal bleeding.