‘May Require Heavy Lifting’: jobs and Disability

bad-job-interview.jpg

*RANT ALERT*

I’ve had some bad interviews recently. I mean, blog worthily bad.

I’ve always performed really well in interviews. Generally, if I’ve got my foot in the door I can get the job. This has changed recently, but I don’t think it’s entirely my fault.

I am dyspraxic, I have vertigo and I also have Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder. The way this affects me in regards to jobs are that I can’t lift heavy things, I can’t climb up high things and I can’t crawl around on the floor or anything like that. These shouldn’t really be a problem for me because I come from a writing background, so have worked in social media and copywriting for big well known brands. My disabilities never caused any issue in my past jobs.

I’ve had a couple of really weird interviews recently, in which the job descriptions did not reflect what they were looking for:

The Tea Company

This job looked fairly interesting. They were looking for a social media manager to lift the profile of their tea brand online. They had advertised for someone with copywriting, photography, SEO and general social media skills. This is pretty much what I’ve been up to for the past 4 years, so when I was contacted by a recruiter about it, I thought it seemed quite hopefully.

When I turned up to the interview it was very odd. They also owned a luxury home company, which they wanted help on social media with. I thought, that’s alright, I can do that. It suddenly turned to ‘well, you’d be on a building site most weeks’. Hang on a minute. How have we gone from social media manager for a tea company to walking around in a hard hat and up scaffolding?

He then asked ‘well, could you cope working with all the men on the building site?’ Firstly, if he’s trying to stereotype these men, e.g. they’re wolf whistling or whatever, that is their wrong, not mine for ‘not coping‘. Secondly, why would I be working with people on a building site as a social media manager. Maybe, I can imagine occasionally going to take some photos or something, but this seemed as if it was the main part of the job.

He’d done what SO many employers do and presumed that ‘most’ people can walk around on a building site, so why does it need mentioning? Of course it needs mentioning, you can’t make assumptions that everyone applying to a writing role would be physically able to do that. You haven’t advertised anything physical, so why should I know that will be expected of me?

I wonder, if I’d turned up using some form of mobility aid, whether he would have just rejected me immediately.

Also, when he left he said ‘oh don’t worry about paying for the teas we drank’. In the teashop he owns…thanks m8.

The School

This was one has upset me recently. I got rejected from this job, and I can’t claim it’s because I’m disabled, but there was something in the second stage interview that was odd.

This job was an office based job. The job description detailed social media management, website management, relationship outreach, copywriting and event planning. The first interview went really well and seemed very positive. I was there for 2 hours discussing all the ideas I had for events and we went on a tour of the school so I could see the facilities I could use if I worked there. I told the first person about how I may struggle with lifting heavy things at events as I have dyspraxia, but I’m very happy to help with all other setting up. They were absolutely fine with this and told me that the site manager usually does stuff like that.

I was invited to second stage interview and the day before my second interview, they wanted me to get my references to hand in personal and detailed references by the end of the day of my second interview-I thought this seemed quite positive too.

On the day of the second interview, I was interview by the deputy headmistress which went well. Then I was interview by another lady, who I hadn’t been told I’d be interviewed by. I was told she just wanted a ‘quick chat’. I thought it was that she wanted to meet the person she may be working with and to introduce herself/explain what she does.

Straight away she got a clipboard out and started grilling me. She briefly touched on my experience and made remarks such as ‘I see you have a lot of experience in social media, have you used Facebook before?’ COME ONN. If she’d actually read my C.V, she wouldn’t need to ask such a basic question.

She then really honed in on the event side of things. Her question was ‘how do you feel about getting really stuck in with setting up the events?’ My response was honest; ‘I’m very happy to get involved in as much as I can, but I can’t lift really heavy things because I have dyspraxia.’ She looked really taken aback and didn’t really respond. So I said ‘I was told the site manager usually helps with those things.’ She replied ‘well, yes, but I like to do it myself and get properly stuck in’.

For the rest of the interview, she spent the time craning her neck to look out of the window behind my head and didn’t really look at me again. I found it so rude and upsetting because it happened almost immediately after I’d said about heavy lifting. She made me feel like I should be embarrassed by my disabilities.

When I asked why I’d been rejected from the job they used the reason that I had less event management experience than the other candidate. Now of course, this other person probably was just more experienced than me, but It did make me wonder whether it was related to that strange reaction from that lady.

Some people have said to me that I should just nod along and say I’m happy to do these things. I don’t think I should have to. I have applied to jobs in good faith, thinking they have been advertised correctly. Yes, all jobs sometimes have extra duties not advertised, but these jobs main focuses were completely different to the advert.

I shouldn’t have to lie and risk hurting myself or someone else. Any job which may require heavy lifting or climbing up ladders etc should include that somewhere in the advert or they should be able to cope with someone who can’t do those things, but excels at the core parts of the job.

These are only a couple of experiences, but I’ve had so many where people have made me feel as if I’ve been a nuisance to them because I can’t lift heavy things. Trust me, it’s more annoying for me than you. Dyspraxia and hypermobility affect me every day of my life in lots of little and big ways. I’m incredibly adaptable because of this, but there are a few things I just can’t do, and that’s ok. I’ve been honest and applied to jobs which haven’t detailed those things I can’t do.

I just wish employers acknowledged that disabled people do exist, they do work, they all differ. I cannot begin to image what it is like for people who do use mobility aids or have  more physical disabilities than me, who have turned up to interviews like this-I’m sure it must happen often.

Also please advertise if you have an office dog! I love dogs so much, but I am incredibly allergic. Epipen level allergic. I know it must be annoying for people with dogs, but it’s worse for me. I need to know if there will regularly be a dog somewhere I’m regularly going to be. I won’t be able to take the job and everyone’s time will have been wasted if I go to interview…and I’ll just get sad that I can’t stoke the dog.

 

Don’t Dump your Friends for your Boy/Girlfriend!

Moody-woman

So, this a REAL pet peeve of mine. Here are some examples of when people have done this to me and why I think it’s a mistake. *(I’m going to change their names, because I’m not horrible!)*

  1. Boris*

Boris really used me. He was a right selfish person really.

Boris was my best friend for most of my teen years. I was a bit shy and awkward at school, so didn’t really have many friends. I actually met Boris on MySpace (oh the good old days). He made me feel fanciable and he was also my first guy mate. In return, I gave him constant support and attention.

In hindsight, I think he was a bit of a user, and only kept me in his life as long as I was useful. It’s taken me a long time to think of things in this way. He started seeing a new girl, which I was really supportive of- I was just pleased to see him happy. But, I did notice our contact dwindling quite a bit when she appeared on the scene. I didn’t mind, I understood he’d have less time, I had a new boyfriend, so I got it. Eventually he just stopped replying to me. Then he started deleting me on social media.

I was really hurt by this, because we had never had an argument, so it made no sense to me. He’s now married with a kid and has seemingly removed a lot of his friends from social media and never appeared with anyone other than his wife and her family. I actually ended up sending him a letter to try and resolve things. He ignored this.  I just worry that, when people do stuff like this somewhere down the line, when the honeymoon period is over and they fancy hanging out with some mates, there will be no one left to hang out with. He’s made himself very insular and if anything went wrong with his wife, he’s not left himself with much of a support network.

2.  Cletus*

Cletus has pissed me right of recently. We had the beginning of a romantic relationship in my first year of uni 2011. According to my friends he was quite smitten with me, and I was  flattered…he’s very very handsome.  I wasn’t sure if I was looking for a relationship, because I’d just come out of a long term one, but I loved his company and…he’s very very handsome. He went travelling and then suddenly stopped talking to me. I was pretty disappointed, but hadn’t got too invested, so left it alone.

When he returned, I think he thought he could start everything up again, but by then I had met a boyfriend. Despite this, we forged quite a strong friendship and he really supported me through some bad times at uni. He had an on/off relationship with another girl at uni, who I thought was a perfect match for him. She was and is besotted with him, so I encouraged the relationship to blossom. I was really chuffed for them when they got together.

A couple of years went by, where things were pretty distant with him. Then we met up for lunch, which was lovely. He did then let me know that his girlfriend had been texting him the whole day constantly because she didn’t want him to meet up with me. In a way, I could see where she was coming from. But she did know Cletus’ past, so should be able to trust him. I also have my own boyfriend, who they know. After that lunch, I never heard from him again. Pretty shitty. If it is because of orders from his girlfriend, then I really do think that will lead to a lot of resentment on his part in the long run, and just fuels her jealousy.

3.  Gertrude*

Gertrude was new to a group of people I’d know for years, and I think she was looking to make new friends, so I invited her to do stuff with me. We got on a like a house on fire and never stopped laughing. In my mind, she was one of my best mates. After getting dumped by my boyfriend at the time, she was really there for me. She constantly talked about how when we both got boyfriends again, we’d still go out and be silly together. A few weeks later she got a boyfriend, moved away and then didn’t really speak to me again. We met up for dinner about a year later and she was talking about marrying her boyfriend. I said ‘ooh I can’t wait to be at your wedding’ and she was like ‘oh, you won’t be there it’ll be all the way in *insert not that far away place here*. I was pretty offended and confused.

We’ve all been there, we meet someone new and we just want to spend all our time with them, but in the long run that phase wears off. It’s always best to have a good blend of friends and partners.

Always Strive to be like Matthew Rees

I’ve been a having a bit of a rubbish week this week, but when I saw this story it snapped me out of my unhelpful thought processes.

Matthew Rees, from Swansea Harriers Athletics Club, helped exhausted David Wyeth, from Chorlton Runners to finish the London Marathon.

On Monday I found out that I’m starting to get arthritis in my feet which isn’t brilliant, so that set me off to a bad start. Then I had to spent the last of my very little money on a doctors note for my PIP form, so I started feeling pretty sorry for myself. I’d made plans with a couple of friends throughout the week to cheer myself up and they all cancelled on me last minute. The thing which was upsetting, was that the reasons they gave were pretty offensive to me. I’m the most understanding person when it comes to changing/cancelling plans. My health problems mean I often have to change things.

The reasons they gave were basically that they had other offers (after we’d made the plans) which appealed to them more. The fact they felt it was even ok to tell me this as a reason…well, it hurt my feelings. In a way, I’d rather they’d lied to me, to spare my feelings. One message read ‘Oh, I forgot to message you, my friends are making me dinner, so I’m gonna do that instead.’ They didn’t even say the word sorry!

I also had a couple of friends ignore my messages all week (which is out of character), then contact me when they wanted to phone me to talk about themselves.

This experience isn’t anything new to me, I’ve had quite a few one-sided friendships or fair weather friends. I’ve had friends that don’t bother to invite me to social events, but are very quick to call me when they need a favour or advice. I spend a lot of time trying to work out what it is about me and why it happens so often to me. I think it’s because I generally avoid confrontations and I’d like to think I’m good at being supportive and giving advice.

I’ve invited friends to live at my house when they’ve had trouble, I’ve lent people money, I’ve sat on the phone talking through things for hours…and a lot of these people decided to cut me off once they’ve got a steady partner. I once stood in a queue on my own for 5 hours to get a CD signed for a friend because I knew he loved the band, and then he stopped talking to me when he got a girlfriend. It’s made me feel pretty used and a bit lonely.

I wallowed in all this over the weekend, and just started to feel quite bitter. I started saying to myself ‘I don’t want to be someone who helps anyone anymore’. ‘I’m just going to be selfish from now on’.

I’m not going to do that. I want to always be the person who helps others to the finishing line, because that’s what life is about. Just because other people might run by, doesn’t mean you have to. Some of the richest moments of my life come from crossing the finishing line with someone else. If I let these negative experiences rule my future, it would be me missing out.

The people who use others or don’t help others are missing out on the rewarding and fulfilling parts of life. I genuinely believe that although I feel a bit lonely now, when it comes down to it, I will have the more worthwhile people in my life and deeper friendships than people who I feel are selfish but more ‘popular’ than me.

Just to add: I do have some really amazing friends in my life, for which I am so grateful for. You are what makes my life a lucky one and I love you. 

 

 

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