Sunday, November 13, 2011

Trench Boxes

By Julie Rahm

I have a friend who owned a heavy construction business. He and my husband, John, were childhood friends. Recently, our friend was sued in civil court.

Months earlier, this thriving construction company was working along side a road digging a deep trench. They were installing some big drainage pipes. The trench was very deep. Usually, when digging a deep trench, the construction workers set a trench box down into the trench. A trench box is a sided frame made from heavy steel. The trench box keeps the sides of trench from caving in, allowing the workers to safely work in the trench. One fateful day, the trench box was not set into the trench. The trench caved in on some workers killing one. The jury found our friend negligent for a wrongful death. The widow/plaintiff was awarded a generous settlement. The liability insurance that the construction business carried did not cover “obvious” negligence. The business went bankrupt. All the company assets were confiscated and sold. Twenty employees lost their well paying jobs. It was very sad. On this particular day, the consequences caused by failure to use a trench box were horrible. The road of life can turn quickly. I wonder how many of us fail to use our own trench boxes.

Metaphorical trench boxes are a good way to keep life from caving in on us. One important trench box prevents financial cave-ins. Spending less money than you make is a good financial trench box. Spending more than you make creates debt. And, large debt is like working in a financial trench without a trench box. You risk a financial cave-in if you fail to meet your over extended financial obligations.

Another financial trench box is a low credit card limit. Credit card interest rates are high. When incurred credit card interest exceeds your minimum payment, the balance grows even though no purchases are being made. Debt snowballs and the credit card trench caves in burying you and your well being.

Metaphorical trench boxes are also essential in relationships. An extended period of dating, before marriage, helps prevent marital cave-ins. One of my best girl friends left her home in Virginia and moved in with her significant other in Ohio. She found him through an on-line dating service, they met in person a few times and she moved in. She completely disregarded the trench box concept. As you can guess, the relationship trench caved in. He drank a lot. She received a broken nose, broken cheek bone, and a severe concussion. He received probation and court mandated counseling. Both had no dating trench box!

Kids need parents to put trench boxes in their trenches for them. Young people need guidance. Some choices in life are irreversible. Empowering kids to choose wisely is an important trench box to prevent a young life from caving in.

The trench box concept is a valuable and useful metaphor. Use it liberally and be careful in life’s ditches! Visit my web site at

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