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.  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cathy's New Job - Awkward Situations

Having a new job as a wheelchair user was exciting for Cathy, but it was definitely nerve-wracking too, since she technically did not 'need' the wheelchair she used at work every day - not physically, at least.   As he first week at her new job wore on, however, her nervousness was slowly being replaced by confidence.  Her new co-workers accepted her 'disability' without question and were generally either very supportive or, in some cases, simply tried their best to avoid the subject altogether.  Either way suited Cathy as she wheeled through the office cubicles or sat at her desk fielding calls.  Of course, being the only wheelchair user in an office not used to disabled employees, awkward situations were bound to happen. 

One thing Cathy did learn in her first week on the job was that she was actually not only the first wheelchair user that has worked there in the 14 years they have been in business; she was the first person with a disability requiring a mobility device, aside from the occasional sprained ankles and broken legs requiring crutches.  That was definitely a little surprising, but not entirely unexpected, and it went a long way to explain some of the looks that Cathy got as she wheeled around the facility.  It also made for some awkward conversations, both because many people there had
no first hand experience with a person with a disability, and because technically, Cathy did not actually have a disability.

On Wednesday, Cathy discovered one interesting quirk that made for a somewhat embarrassing situation.  One of the product teams' managers - a burly and deep-voiced man named Thomas - liked to have his team meetings sitting in the cubicle area, with everyone pulling their chairs around him in an open-floor group.  As their meeting was going on, Cathy needed to use the ladies room, but the meeting was between Cathy and the washroom, blocking the aisles between the cubicles with people sitting in their rolling desk chairs.  A person walking could have possibly scooted around a couple chairs and skirted the whole thing, but Cathy was blocked completely.  She wheeled up to the roadblock, then backed off and wheeled to another row, but was still blocked, and did her most subtle 'ahem' to get the guy closest to her to notice her and move. He noticed her and tried to move, but then he was blocked by the next guy, and so on, so that it started a bit of a chain reaction that began to disrupt the whole meeting.  Finally enough people were able to shift so that Cathy could make her way through - again, a person walking could have skirted through with minimal effort, but between the width between the cube walls and how many people were crowded in the aisles, a wheelchair wasn't going anywhere.  Cathy did mention, as she finally got through and made several apologies, that she would need to be coming back to her desk in a few minutes, just so they wouldn't re-shift into her path again as she used the restroom. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Cathy's New Job

The first day is always the worst - at least that's what Cathy kept telling herself.  She had obsessed over the perfect 'first day at work' outfit for the better part of a week, but then the morning she was scheduled to start she completely changed her mind.  After three tries she finally settled on opaque hose, black leather flats, a casual yet stylish dress in navy with white accents, a loose while belt, and modest silver jewelry.  She wheeled up to the full length mirror and immediately had second thoughts, but she was already running behind and needed to get going if she didn't want to show up late for her first day.

The building loomed large as Cathy pulled into the employee lot.  Her first challenge - pull into the handicapped spot, since they knew her as a wheelchair user and she was pretty sure there were no other disabled employees, or pull into a normal spot.  She didn't have a handicapped plate or tag, so she decided on a compromise - the end spot in the third row, so her door could not be blocked by someone parking too close and she could transfer to her wheelchair OK.  It probably wouldn't work every day, but for today it was the best plan.  As she slid into her chair an older man - evidently one of her new co-workers - gave a double take and kept looking back as she wheeled towards the ramp to enter the building.  Cathy felt her cheeks flush.   She could do this, she was hired as a chair user, nobody would suspect anything different.  She could do this...

She wheeled up the shallow ramp and hit the faded blue and silver wheelchair symbol on the button that auto-opened the doors, then wheeled her way in.  She went to the front desk and smiled at the receptionist who she had met when she interviewed, and she was handed a temporary badge on a slightly frayed grey lanyard and guided to a large conference room where she and a few other new hires would go through orientation. 

She entered the orientation room and it immediately hushed - not quite as abrupt as the bad guy entering the saloon and the piano player stopped dead, but to Cathy it felt similar.  There were four other people in the room, two with temp badges similar to Cathy and two with glossy employee badges - one she recognized as Lisa, the woman from HR who helped interview her.  Lisa smiled at Cathy and welcomed her in, then tried to subtly remove a chair from the large conference table so Cathy could have a place - there was nothing subtle about it, of course, and Cathy felt her cheeks warm slightly again.  She was really doing this - she was starting a job, a real job with a real company - as a wheelchair user.  It was a dream come true, but it was also surreal in so many ways. 

The orientation took the first half of the day and much if it was information Cathy already knew, having worked in the industry for a number of years, but she listened attentively and took copious notes.  They all got a tour of the facility - nearly identical to the tour Cathy had gotten during her interview, which confirmed her suspicion that the first tour was not something they usually did with interviewees - and then all had lunch in the conference room, sandwiches and chips from a local deli that had been delivered.  Cathy really started to feel relaxed as the day went on, feeling that other than the wheelchair, this job was no different from others she had held, and she knew she was good at the fundamentals, having years of experience. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Job Interview

Cathy arrived almost 30 minutes early and sat in the parking lot, hands shaking.  The building was a typical modern office type and Cathy could see the front entrance had a ramp and auto opening doors, so that reduced some of the worry, but she was still nervous.  She looked at the quickie wheelchair in seat beside her, the wheels leaned in the back seat, and her conservative business attire, great skirt and tasteful blouse, nude stockings and black flats.  She knew the industry and had lots of great experience, and she knew she was well qualified, but...

Cathy didn't need the wheelchair - at least not physically - but she needed it mentally and emotionally, she had 'felt' that she was a wheelchair user since childhood, and today she was looking to get a new job... as a wheelchair user.  It was terrifying, but as Cathy began assembling her wheelchair to wheel into her interview, she felt a familiar excitement building as well.  At her current, boring retail job she walked, but this was a new opportunity, and she had to try - for her own happiness and even her sanity she had to know; could she get a job as a wheelchair user?

She transferred into her wheelchair and straightened her legs and her skirt, then put her leather bag on her lap, locked her car, and then wheeled into the building with ease.  She wheeled in and told reception she was here for an interview.  The woman at the desk smiled and pointed her to a waiting area and asked her to sign in.  Cathy signed into the company branded clipboard and wheeled into the waiting area, nervous but excited. 

Cathy was the only person in the waiting room, which was a good sign, but between the chairs lining the walls and the wide low tables full of magazines and brochures there wasn't a lot of room for her wheelchair, making her feel more self conscious.  Fortunately the discomfort was short-lived, as she had only been there about five minutes when a middle aged man in smart grey suit came in and introduced himself as Brian, one of the hiring managers.  He led Cathy into a conference room where there was a younger woman already seated, and Cathy wheeled up to the polished conference table and smiled. 

The interview was very pleasant.  They looked over Cathy's paperwork, asked her about her former experience, asked her about worst and best job experiences, the usual questions.   Cathy was feeling very confident, and so when the woman - Lisa from Human Resources - asked if she needed any 'additional considerations' to do the job, she said she didn't need anything additional and even joked that they didn't even need to provide a desk chair, that she would bring my own. 

After the interview Cathy got a quick tour of the facility.  It didn't seem like they usually did that; to Cathy it actually felt like they were making sure the place was 'wheelchair accessible enough', as she could see Lisa from HR looking around and scanning the various areas for possible obstacles as they moved through the building. 

Cathy had a good feeling as she left the interview, but as she transferred back into her car and loaded her chair, she started feeling panicked again.  She had just done a full job interview for a big company as a wheelchair user.  True, she never said that she was disabled and had not asked for any special arrangements, but it still felt a bit crazy...   On the drive home she had all but convinced herself there was no way she would get the job, but deep down she was still very hopeful. 

Nine days later Cathy got the call and found out she got the job, as a wheelchair user, with a start date a little over two weeks away!  She was filled with excitement but also a growing fear over what she was doing...  Her first day at work was coming soon, but she couldn't wait!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Big Spring Promotion with ParaCathy and D-Models: Buy ONE and get TWO Free!!

So my previous article about D-Models was apparently so well received that D-Models has decided to partner with me and to do an amazing spring promotion!  I literally did not want to post this promotion yesterday because it was so good it might sound like an April Fools prank! 

The promotion is as follows: everyone who buys a Gallery of € 10 or more on the D-Models website and uses the form on the special page From April 02 2016 to April 18 2016 can choose 2 Galleries for free! The only rule is that the free Galleries have to be of the same price or cheaper than
the one you've paid for.  The link to the special promotions page and the promotion code below are EXCLUSIVE to Paragirls' Place! 

All you have to do is fill in the form on the promotions page, use the special code that is given below, choose the 2 galleries you want to have for free and send the information to D-Models. You will then receive the 2 extra download links by e-mail.