Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Cathy's New Job - Tales From The Breakroom
If you thought being the ‘new girl’ at work was a challenge, try being the ‘new LGBT girl in a wheelchair who is secretly a pretender with BIID’... It's a hoot!
So I'm settling into the new job well - a lot better than I expected really. I'm dressing very well too - I've been dressing much more ‘classy’ and businesslike than I've dressed for work in ages - my retail job had requirements and my previous calls job was a night shift so I had no interest in dressing ‘fancy’, but here I'm pulling out my nice herringbone skirts and ‘office wear’ dresses, nice stockings, and I'm actually liking the leather flats I've been wearing - they seem to enhance the wheelchair, if that makes any sense? Heather says they're boring but I just tell her if she doesn't like them she can take them off for me. She's ok with that arrangement.
I guess I just didn't realize how much I preferred Customer Service to retail. I REALLY hated retail work. Being able to work in my wheelchair is a huge advantage for me, of course, but honestly this job is so much better than my last one I would love doing it even without my chair. I'm just glad I don't have to.
I was hoping there would be lots of exciting ‘wheelchair pretender in the workplace’ adventures to write about, but the truth is that it's just a job, and instead of sitting in a rolling office chair looking at two computer monitors and talking on the phone all day, I sit in my wheelchair looking at two monitors and talking on the phone all day. There have only been a few instances where my wheelchair was involved in any way, and it looks like now that my co-workers are getting used to ‘the new girl in the wheelchair’ I'll have even fewer chair-related tales to tell.
A few funny things have happened, of course - mostly in the Breakroom. I've made a few friends here already - I put our wedding photo on my desk and immediately attracted the attention of a few other LGBT folks here, which is nice, so I often hang out with Lauren at lunch - she's a very sweet younger lesbian with a nose piercing (because of course) and an unhealthy obsession with those ‘Housewives’ reality shows. She's already started getting into the break room ahead of me and moving one of the spindly metal chairs away from one of the break tables so I can wheel up easily, and I'll admit that does give me a bit of a thrill. I think she's just happy to have someone LGBT to talk to, since I think I'm the only one who shares her much time and there are a few judgmental glares from a few of the more conservative folks, though thankfully none seem openly hostile. I keep waiting to get a religious tract left anonymously at my desk.
So we were eating lunch and somehow started talking about shoes (I know, stereotypical girl talk, what have I become?) and I was talking about a pair of strappy sandals that I love to wear, but they hurt my feet because one of the straps is just a hair too tight and cuts into my foot in exactly the wrong way. An older woman on the other side of the table actually interrupted us and just blurted out ‘wait - you can feel your feet?’ And of course it was kid enough for pretty much the whole Breakroom to hear. I replied that yes, I had full feeling in my feet and legs, I wasn't a paraplegic, and commented that even some paraplegics retain some feeling below their injury line. And then she just keeps it going, because things were certainly not awkward enough, and asks why I need to use a wheelchair then. And not in a curious ‘please educate me’ sort of way, but with an accusatory tone that I assume she also uses when a person with new, clean clothing and decent hygiene pays for food with food stamps at the register. I do hate judgemental people, but I'm still new at the job and didn't want to make waves, so I politely told her about my car accident and injuries and how standing or walking any distance was very painful. She mumbled something noncommittal and continued eating her sandwich and Lauren said something under her breath that nearly made me choke on my drink, and that was pretty much the end of it. It was far less exciting than it seemed, now that I'm writing about it.
And that's about it. I have a new job and get to use my wheelchair at said job, and the people I work with don't seem to care in the slightest… pretty boring really.
Maybe next I'll write about my adventures grocery shopping…