The man stormed off exclaiming, “You will get a visit from the Mayor and you won’t like it!” Somewhat stunned, our site supervisors wondered what would happen next. Was the Mayor a big guy who would start a fight? How did he get the name “The Mayor”? Did this group really have a Mayor?
The background: We were building a project near the beach and a wooded area that was frequented by a group that were homeless and lived in the woods nearby. This area was well known as a campsite for the homeless who frequented the area. The rub started when we placed one of our temporary toilets near the woods where they were camping. This became a popular item for our neighbors and when our site personnel attempted to prohibit the use of the toilets by our neighbors- the problems began. The site supervisors huddled and shared predictions on the visit from the Mayor. Should we call the police? Will there be a violent confrontation?
They put together a plan and waited for his arrival. Then, emerging from the woods, came the Mayor and his posse. As they looked at the Mayor, he was not impressive in stature but his companions were very confident in their approach which raised the tension as they made their way towards our supervisors. Dressed in typical “woods wear”, the Mayor spoke first. “I hear that you are going to take our toilet and water away.”, said the Mayor. Our site supervisors reasoned that the toilets and water were for our construction staff and we were not obligated to provide toilets and facilities to the public. The Mayor quickly countered, “You sure have a lot of windows on these buildings!” They knew exactly what he was telling them. The Mayor’s group could easily do thousands of dollars of damage in one night. Our head supervisor began to do the math and consider the consequences. He knew he really had no choice. Even posting 24 hour security has it’s gaps. An awful position to be strong armed in to!
We are often put in this position- aren’t we? Pride would lead us to resist and call the police, post security and fight. After all, we are completely in the right. But, given the reality of the situation, is this the wise decision?
After considering the consequences, the supervisor made a deal with the Major. He would leave the toilet and water for their use as long as they used them after hours and also kept an eye on the project at night and chase off anyone attempting to steal from the jobsite. “Deal!”, said the Major and off he went with his posse disappearing into the woods. The toilet remained along with water access throughout construction which was an unanticipated cost. That was the last we saw of the Major. Not sure if any theft was prevented, but it really didn’t matter- the risk was too great. A truce and a trade off- yet wisdom prevailed!