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Thread: I have a coworker with a spinal injury

  1. #1

    I have a coworker with a spinal injury

    Hello Everyone,

    I am new here and stumbled upon this forum. I don't know if this is the right place to post this or not, but I wanted to put it somewhere.

    I just felt like I needed to tell my story. About a year ago the company I worked for hired a young man to do all of our drafting and drawings for our CAD programs.

    This man was injured when he was 16. He broke his neck in an accident. He spent about a 18 months in the hospital and then he was in rehab for many years after that.

    The doctors told him that he would never walk again. This young man was determined to beat the odds. Slowly but surely he recovered. He know walks unassisted. My personal opinion is that he needs to walk with a cane. He has fallen many times and caused more injuries. I can see it in is his eye, and I understand why he does not use a cane. He wants to do it, and do it alone. I admire him for it.

    I was the first person to interview him for the position. When I started talking with him he told me several stories about being interviewed for other companies. He said that he would send his resume in and even go so far as to have an interview over the phone. There were 3 times that he more or less had the job and just needed to come in and fill out all of the paperwork. When he showed up and they saw the way he walked and realized that he had been injured the jobs went away.

    I was and still am furious about that. This man was very qualified and has degrees to prove it. I honestly can't believe that this day in time some blockheads would be prejudice against another person for something like that.

    It brings tears to my eyes to think about the pain that he and others have gone through and how the fact that he can walk is nothing short of a miracle. He has worked very hard and bounced back in a way that should be commended by all.

    I know this is a long post, but I just wanted to give you my perspective as an outsider. Some of you may have experienced this for yourselves. If you have I want to tell you that I am sorry. Please know that not all employers or potential employers are blockheads that can't see past what their eyes see.

    Sincerely,
    Matt Anderson
    Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 03-08-2009 at 11:29 PM. Reason: Advertising link removed

  2. #2
    Matt, Thank you for sharing your story. It's a great inspiration to many people here at CC. As a mother of young SCI, I am always worry about my son's future.

  3. #3

    Smile Thanks Timo

    I certainly understand your worries about your son. How old is he? Please try not to worry about his future.

    Sadly there are people out there that tend to be wary of someone because they may look different from them.

    I just don't understand it. So many people just don't have any compassion. Please don't misunderstand my comments. I do not think as an employer that I should give a disabled or injured person a position just because of the disability. That would be as bad as NOT giving them the position because of the disability.

    We are all people. I think everyone deserves a fair shake. I treat everyone with dignity and respect until I am given reason to do otherwise.

    Maybe I am going through a mid life crises, I will be 40 soon, but as I get older I find that I have more compassion for others, and I am more concerned about the way I treat people. Don't get me wrong I have never treated others badly. It is just recently it seems as if I have had an awakening of some sort, and I can clearly see that there are things that I can do to help others that I didn't see before.

    Call it Karma, call it faith, call it the golden rule, or call it whatever you want to, but I sincerely believe that what goes around comes around. For me that involves the way I treat people. If I do good things and help people that I meet in life I honestly think that it will come back to me in ways that I haven't even realized yet.

    The reverse is also true. If you have opportunities to help others and don't then you may not get help when you need it the most.

    Like I said, I may be going through a midlife crises, but that is where I am at, and that is why I wanted post my above post publicly just to let others know that there are people out here that will give you a fair shake.

    I am one of them!

    Sincerely,
    Matt Anderson
    Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 03-08-2009 at 11:30 PM. Reason: Advertising link removed

  4. #4
    Thank you for your kind words Wanderer. I totally agree with you that it is totally disheartning for people to discount a person or their abilities based on what they perceive as "normal".

    Hopefully in time this will occur less and less. Concerning passing values to the next generation, that is certainly something that everyone needs to do.

    I have two young children, and you can rest assured that they know how to treat people and how to judge a person by their character and actions and not simply by the way they look.

    Matt Anderson
    Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 03-08-2009 at 11:31 PM. Reason: Advertising link removed

  5. #5
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    Matt, thank you for sharing your story. being a quad/wheelchair user for 29yrs I have had many doors closed. After college I hit the pavement looking for work and for every dead end street it motivated me more to keep going. I always got, not a good fit or looking for more experence, every excuse not to hire me. You could not prove what they were doing, but in your gut you knew,which is ashame. All it takes is for 1 door to open and I am happy to report it did for me. I worked 20 yrs and retired 3 yrs ago from a big bank. It was not easy and feeling you have to constantly prove yourself gets old. I was always feeling like I have to go the extra mile to prove I am worthy. I am sure most of it was me putting pressure on me. That feeling was more than just at work... As I am getting older and almost 30 yrs of SCI I am slowly taking down the shields, but its been hard dealing with. I dont talk about it much but saw your post thought I would share.

  6. #6
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    Matt, thank you from me too for writing. I was very fortunate decades ago to find a man much like yourself who could see beyond my disability and was willing to employ me. I worked for/with him for almost a quarter century. Prior to that I had run into some of the bigotry you mentioned. Because of this man my life literally took a different course that some would have guessed back then with full employment, social outlets and a lot more.

  7. #7
    I personally have not run into discriminaton during the interview process, but I'm sure in this economic environments, employers are looking for any excuse to not hire someone. If you take 2 equivalent people, one with a disability, I think the likelihood might be greater not to get hired. However, some employers (like mine), value diversity and would prefer the person with the disability.

    Thanks for your perspective and kinds words.

  8. #8
    Thank you very much for the reply, quad80, Eileen, and vsu.

    It was not easy and feeling you have to constantly prove yourself gets old. I was always feeling like I have to go the extra mile to prove I am worthy.

    Quad that is the part that makes me angrier and more upset with bigots and small minded people than anything. You are as worthy as any other soul on earth. Maybe it was the way I was raised, but the way I see it EVERYONE deserves a fair shake. It still just blows me away when my employee tells me some of his stories.

    It isn't just that he was treated unfairly by other companies, but just some people in general in public etc.

    I just don't get it. It really makes me mad. You are You regardless if you are standing sitting etc. Our bodies are just shells. What is inside is what counts. I would rather be caught on the wrong side of town in the dark of night with any of you than be sitting in a five star restaurant having a free meal with any of the folks that have ever mistreated my employee or any of you.

    Some people have in their mind what "Normal" is. (most of the time their idea of normal just happens to be exactly what they are - go figure).

    I don't know if it is fear, stupidity or what that makes some people act the way they do when they are dealing with someone in a chair.

    I don't practice what one would call diversity in the workplace. I try to hire the best person for the job regardless of color, or situation.

    When I hired my employee that had broken his neck I interviewed about 6 people. His skills were superior to theirs. I am glad I hired him. I have never ever had any prejudice to anyone at all, but after talking to him about his experiences it has really opened my eyes to the way that some people are.

    I have two young children. I have since educated my children the importance of judging people based on their character and actions and not by the way they look.

    It has been a real blessing for me to hire him.

    Matt Anderson
    Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 03-08-2009 at 11:32 PM. Reason: Advertising link removed

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