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Monday, September 27, 2010

Stand up for what you believe, even if you're the only one standing.

My title comes from a poster I saw when I picked my son up from school today. Lately, I have worried that standing up would cause future employers to maybe think "This one might cause trouble if we don't hire her" etc... Valid point, if I were to go after every employer who denied me a job. I don't and I won't unless of course there is blatant discrimination towards me. I have been denied several jobs in my lifetime, some I know are because I'm not the right fit (usually sensed by me during the interview), some are because someone else is better qualified, and some are because of discrimination. Only 3 employers have been so disturbingly forthright though and of those 3 only 1 is going to see a consequence. Many times I have sensed the discrimination without it being spoken and I would never consider filing a complaint because though I feel it, I cannot prove it.

I knew full well what I would face by making my complaint so public (I have heard that at least half of North Battleford knows) yet I chose to accept the consequences (being labeled a troublemaker possibly) because it was and is the right thing to do. I would rather be seen as a pot stirrer who does something about discrimination as opposed to a silent sheep who cries to herself and ignores the problem.

This has not been easy for me, far from it. I am a roller coaster of emotions at any given time. One minute I'm ok, the next I'm angry, the next I'm self-pitying (which is the worst!). I am lucky to have wonderful support from friends and strangers alike. However, not everyone has been so supportive. The shock of my life came from someone in my own family, who actually was considerate enough to not say anything about the issue until I kinda pushed her opinion out of her. Initially I took her lack of response as not giving a crap about me, when in reality it was because she did not want to argue with me. She is of the opinion that disabled people cannot possibly work the same jobs as non disabled people (for the most part, especially restaurant jobs). What upset me the most is her insinuation that I was in the wrong for not advertising the fact I have one hand during the interview and that the way the employer handled it was right. Don't tell me that by even applying I was setting myself up for failure! Really? So what does she (or anyone who agrees with her for that matter) think I should do in life? Do you realize the limits you place on someone by saying that? Do you realize how badly you hurt someone by saying that?

And please, do not compare my 31 years missing an arm with your few weeks/months that you had to be one handed for whatever reason. Since birth I have been learning how to live one handed in a two handed world. It is such a different experience to injure yourself and learn to be one handed for awhile when all you know is two handedness from living with one handedness every single day of your life forever! Everytime I meet someone with a broken arm or what have you I hear "I don't know how you do this one handed all the time" well, you just answered yourself, all the time is the key. I know most people do not mean to be rude etc when they say that sort of thing and usually it is meant as a compliment, sadly it was recently used to insult me further.

So, to those of you who think I "shouldn't" apply in a restaurant (or any other job for that matter), or "shouldn't" take this as far as I can, maybe you "shouldn't" be so quick to judge. Maybe you SHOULD open your mind, learn something new, and stop assuming you know what my abilities are or aren't.....

My original intent for this post kind of derailed, obviously my conversation with that family member is affecting me greater then I let on at the time.... I doubt that person will see this and even if she does well I can only hope she understands a little bit more. If she is mad, I guess that is too bad. Be mad, because you made me feel an inch tall....

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