Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Grandma Fired for Missing Work to Babysit

Grandmother Fired for Missing Work While Caring for Granddaughter; Parents Were in New Orleans
KANSAS CITY: When forced to decide between caring for her 18-month-old granddaughter whose parents were stranded in New Orleans or leaving the girl with strangers so she could show up for her assembly line job, Barbara Roberts chose to be a grandma. And for that, she was fired.Roberts says she didn't know if her daughter and son-in-law were even alive when she called the Positronic Industries factory in Mount Vernon the day Hurricane Katrina came ashore to say she wouldn't be in. But at least she was sure Trisana was safe.
The 54-year-old, $7-plus-per-hour worker had made the four-hour drive to Columbia from Mount Vernon on Saturday to watch the girl while her parents were away. Roberts had planned to be in her own bed by Sunday night.Tina Roberts and her husband, Chris Hardin, had flown to New Orleans on Aug. 26 so Hardin, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, could attend meetings. It was supposed to be a weekend business trip.Hardin tried to reschedule the flight home the afternoon of Aug. 27 as the Category 5 hurricane approached, but he was told the airline had canceled all flights because of the storm."We had made arrangements for a caregiver to overnight with Trisana on Sunday and we would be back Monday," Hardin said. "But then there was a Category 5 hurricane with a bull's-eye on our butts, so we called Barb and said we didn't know when we would be coming home. We truly didn't know what would happen down there."With no other relatives in the area to take care of Trisana, Roberts said she had no choice but to call work on Aug. 29 and tell her boss she would be missing a few days."There was no decision to make it was already made," Roberts said."My daughter could have died down there. This was family. You don't walk out on a child especially my grandbaby."Hardin and his wife spent a couple days locked down in a Sheraton hotel safe from looters and the chaos that befell most of New Orleans after the levees broke and finally made it back to Columbia on Thursday. Shaken up, they asked Roberts to stay one more day.


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