Employment

I don’t need God to bless me

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
-Thomas Jefferson

Our founding father had the right idea, on paper anyway. I think he forgot a few things, most of which I’ll save for another time; I think mister Jefferson forgot the disabled community. Yes, the disabled community has the most rights protecting us, the world seems to forget that we too are afforded the same basic unalienable rights as our able-bodied counterparts. Such basic rights include: having a job.

I work part-time at a local higher end department store. I am at least the local branch’s if not the entire corporation’s first disabled associate. Luckily, the management and my co-workers are nice and very accommodating, which initially I wasn’t expecting. It’s the customers that can be a bit narrow-minded.  Out of my two shifts a week, I can guarantee at least one customer will make some sort of microaggression toward me during at least one of my shifts. If you don’t know what a microaggression is it is defined as:

mi·cro·ag·gres·sion – a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.

Typically these sentiments are just verbal usually along the lines of:

A) “You work here, WOW that’s so great!”

or

B) “Oh, you work here I assumed you were a customer.”

But in the instance today I was making my rounds on the sales floor when I spotted a man presumably late 40’s/ early 50’s and his wife. They looked a bit confused so I stopped and asked for help; the man declined my offer then proceeded to clasp my hand in between both of his and say: “God Bless you.”. Not knowing what to say I quickly thanked him and went about my business. I appreciate the gesture but at the same time find it terribly awkward because I’m willing to bet that, that man wouldn’t have done that to my able-bodied co-workers purely for doing their job.

I don’t understand why people think it’s so great that I, a wheelchair user but otherwise average twenty-two-year-old have a job. It’s just a job.

 

They’re All Gonna Laugh At You

Tomorrow I start orientation for my new job, and it dawned on me that this’ll be the first time in my life that I will be alone somewhere new without an omnipresent other person. I am nothing short of terrified. I’ve always been an anxious person even with someone to act as support so the fact I’ll be alone scares me even more. I haven’t had to make a friend that didn’t (a) work with me or (b) grow up with me in probably, ever.  I’d like to think I’m a friendly enough person that I’ll do fine, but that at the same time what if no one likes me?

I keep having a recurring image of the scene from Carrie where she keeps repeating: “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” because I’m kind of convinced they might. Or even worse I won’t have anyone to eat lunch with and I’ll be the weird girl who eats lunch by herself. Add to the fact, I’m terrible at”small talk” and social ice breakers are the bain of my existence. Is it possible to die from a panic attack?

Wheelchairs In The Workplace

In recent months I’ve begun my search for employment,  because I’m nearly 22 and SSI isn’t really a liveable income. I also have wine taste and tap water money when it comes to life. This journey has been nothing short of complex, just like every other task I’ve ever taken on. The challenges for employment are twofold in my case, the first, obviously being my onmipresent wheelchair, living in a small city about 120 miles north of Manhattan that has recently become a hub of activity for artists and free thinkers alike; one would think there would be hope for more wheelchair friendly employment options, there isn’t. Only a small handful of accessible businesses exist within the main drag of the city I live in. Another issue I face when seeking employment is one that is for now coupled with my being wheelchair bound, I cannot use the bathroom by myself. What this means for me is that the longest I can comfortably go without needing the restroom is about four hours, any longer and I begin to writhe and twitch which can be mistaken for seizing.

As I began searching various employment search engine sites I made sure to try and find part time jobs. I sent a handful of applications in for several desk jobs around the area and never heard anything back. About a month ago I even applied for a front desk job at a small local hotel, I had a preliminary inview but didn’t get a call back.

It was exactly a week ago today that I went on my second job interview ever for a retail job at the local branch of a department store. When I went in for the interview I was visibly shaking with nerves and mentally convinced I wouldn’t get the job because of my disability. Despite my visible nerves I was told by my interviewer that I did extremely well. As of Tuesday I was offered the position. Good things come to those who wait.