I worked for you today. I put in my hours, worked my hardest, did my best and still you don’t like me.
Did you think I did not notice?
I know that not all bosses are like you, just as you know that not all employees are like me. Some are better, some are worse. Maybe you hired me to fill a quota. Maybe I was already working here when you became the boss. Maybe you hired me to earn “brownie points” with your managers.
Maybe you did not realize I had a disability.
Do you regret it now? It seems that you do. You clearly don’t treat me like the others. You barely speak to me, yet you have lengthy conversations with my co-workers. I can hear you when you go into their offices.
But, I have a job to do, right? I did not come here to socialize. So, I put my head down and I work. I work for you, making you look good.
Do you realize that? Do you appreciate that?
When I came to you for accommodations, you said, “It goes both ways.”
But I make accommodations to live in your world every single day. I am just asking you to make a few adjustments so I can be healthier, more productive, dare I even ask to be happier?
Does it “cramp your style” to have to work with a cripple, retard, or whatever other colorful name insensitive people call me behind my back? Does my wheelchair get in your way? Does it irritate you because my hearing problem causes me to talk too loud? Does my speech impediment get on your nerves because you won’t slow down and take to try to understand what I am trying to say? Are my social skills not good enough for you so instead of trying to help me you ignore me?
Why do you resent having me on your team?
I have VALUE. I make valuable contributions both professionally and personally. It you would just take the time to get to know me (and yes, you may have to work a little, some of us have many layers of scar tissue from years of abuse insulating us against the world), you would see that I am good and useful.
You might have to look past the wheelchair, the unusual behavior, the challenges speech, the differences between us to see the value. But it is there, I assure you.
I am not like you. I did not choose to be this way, but I am. Why do you try so hard to make me feel disabled? Why can’t you treat me like everyone else?
Why can’t you see the value of a human being who just wants to make a place in this world?
The potential for prejudice, for discrimination, exists in every single group. In some group, somewhere, YOU are the different one, the “odd man out.” Never allow your pride and arrogance to take you to the place where you believe that you can’t be touched by it. Everyone can, everyone is susceptible. It is an inescapable reality.
You may not like me because I am different – or maybe you don’t believe I have a disability at all (those of us with “invisible disabilities” such as Autism, Asperger’s, anxiety and depression know this well) – but just because you don’t believe it does not make it any less real.
Live in my world for a day and you will see just how vastly different it is from your own.
I accept you just as you are and I make adjustments to live in your world. What makes you so superior that I have to make all of the adjustments? Isn’t this my world too? Aren’t we supposed to all help each other, encourage each other, work together?
When you start placing value on people based on their usefulness and value based on your own perceptions of what is useful and valuable in this world, be careful.
One day, you could be sitting across from someone who is evaluating yourusefulness and value based on their perceptions of what is useful and valuable in this world.
And it may not turn out so great for you.
I will pray for you; pray that that never happens to you.
No one deserves to feel like this, not even you.
Your disabled employee