When loved ones are deployed, communication is precious—and sometimes few and far between. With her son only able to call once or twice a month, answering her cell phone when that rare call from Afghanistan came in was a no-brainer for one Tennessee-based mother. But by doing so, she nearly put her job in jeopardy.
On Valentine's Day, Teresa Danford, an employee of Crane Interiors in Woodbury, Tenn., was suspended for three days without pay for answering her son’s phone call. Danford told CBS-affiliate WTVF that her managers informed her that she would be fired if it happened again.
Danford’s son, Lance Cpl. Mark Rhyne, was deployed to Afghanistan seven months ago.
“You don’t want to miss a word, because truthfully that might be the last time you hear from them,” Danford told WTVF.
Crane Interiors has a no cell phone policy. Danford acknowledged she knew the policy, but said that when it came to her son, nothing was going to prevent her from taking that call.
“There is nothing in this world that would stop a mother from answering a phone call from her son, and what if it was not my son? What if he’d been hurt and someone was trying to contact me?”
When a manager informed Danford that she would be penalized for breaking the cell phone rule, Danford said she explained the situation.
“I said ‘you are aware that my son is serving in Afghanistan and he can only call me when that satellite phone gets to his unit,’ and he looked me straight in the eyes and said ‘yes.’”
WTVF received a statement from Crane Interiors human resource manager Larry Officer. In the statement, Officer said that cell phones are banned during working hours “due to safety concerns within a production environment.” Officer said that employees can use their phones on breaks and lunches, and that there is a policy in place for employees to be reached in emergencies.
A petition is now circulating online demanding that family members of deployed soldiers are given the right to answer phone calls from their loved ones overseas. Danford said that phone calls, as rare as they are, give her peace of mind, and keeps her son’s morale up. She told WTVF that the right to answer the phone is all she asks for.
Crane general manager Chris Anderson says the company has apologized to Danford.
Danford’s son is scheduled to return home in a month.