Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"I Think You Would Love Working Here"


I called the Employment Representative that I had been working with and told him that I wanted to continue looking for a position with the company. (I now know that he was working to cover his and the company’s butt! The company advertised itself as eager to hire the disabled, handicapped, or crippled; whatever the current politically correct word was at any particular time. He had a hot situation on his hands and he had to either help me find a job or present a good reason why I was unacceptable.) He set me up for a series of interviews, but I was forced to collect ’the envelope’ before each interview and return it to him after I was rejected.

Interview after interview the scenario was the same. The interviewer would come out to the guard desk to escort me to his office. I would be standing when he arrived to escort me. I would walk a few steps to shake his hand. He would see me walk those few steps and never blink an eye, hesitate, shrink back, or show any indication that he thought I was disabled, handicapped, or crippled. I was a 5’8” blue eyed blonde that dressed with style, spoke with intelligence, a quick study in any new situation, and easily met the requirements of the open position. Without exception these interviewers greeted me with enthusiasm ... until!!!!!! they opened that damned envelope.

Then they would hem, haw, back up, and decide the position required some skill that I didn’t have, and work to find the fastest route to get me out of their office.

That envelope became an albatross. It would sit on the seat of my car as I drove to the next interview and I would cuss its existence, but I was never tempted to open the cussed thing. My pride was involved in this struggle and to open the envelope and lower myself to the level of sneaking would somehow tarnish the victory WHEN I beat the damn thing in this struggle for a job with a company that didn’t discriminate against the disabled, handicapped, or crippled!

Ralph would phone me every so often and we chatted, trying to get to know one another. But I never told him that I had applied for a job with the company that he worked for. We were treading fragile ground trying to recover from the disaster of our date. He was a decent man, but I didn’t think my struggle was something that I wanted to share with him. I was also fearful that he would feel that Iwas trying to invade his world.

Jenny on the other hand called often. She listened to my tales of failure, offered advice, and grew increasingly angry. I had no idea how angry until about six weeks later.

“I talked to Ralph and told him what they are doing to you,” Jenny said about half way into my ’hello’.

“You did what? Oh Jenny, I wish you hadn’t done that. You don’t know everything about the date Ralph and I had. I don’t want him feeling as if I was trying to use him,” I answered.

“Listen Penny, you should have been ’trying to use him’ from the very beginning. He has some power of his own. Maybe he could have helped you these past few weeks. And furthermore, did you know that Mr. R-----, that goes to our church, works at this company. He is a powerful man. Next Sunday I want you to go to him and tell him what you have been through and then I want you to tell him that you are going to start a Discrimination Suit if something isn’t done about this situation.”

“Discrimination Suit’ I didn’t even know I had the option to do such a thing. “But wouldn’t that be admitting that they’re right, that I am disabled? That whatever is written on those papers is the truth?”

“No!“ She answered me. She talked until she pulled the promise out of me. I would do as she advised. I would go talk to Mr. R------ next Sunday. But before Sunday arrived Ralph called me.

He admonished me for not telling him about the situation myself and then he started asking questions. He asked me if I had taken a typing test, what my score was, and whether I could take shorthand. Shorthand! Why?

Ralph gave me no indication what he was going to do with all the information that he had gathered from our conversation. He said he'd call me in a few days, and we hung up.

Like wise, that Sunday Mr R------ listened to my story, shook his head once or twice, asked a few questions, took my phone number, and said he would talk to me in a few days.

I was confused, angry, hurt and depressed. That Sunday I went and sat on the beach and tried to straighten out the confusion that was whirling around inside my head. I had spent my life believing that there was 'nothing' that I couldn't overcome, 'nothing' that I couldn't suceed at, 'nothing' that I couldn't achieve if I wanted it badly enough. Now I was being tossed and thrown about and labeled 'unable'. I didn't know if I wanted to keep on fighting. I was feeling defeated by a brown manilla envelope!

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