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Monday, April 18, 2011

If you thought job hunting was hard, try being a deaf person! (pt 1)

Editor's note: I apologize! I had planned on finishing the post yesterday but I was asked at last minute to open the center for a meeting and I just forgot. Also...since the post itself is so long, I had to break it into two parts. Sorry!

Other than communication issues (lipreading and/or speech comprehension), I'd like to share with you how easy it is for a smart, well-educated, and deaf man like me to find jobs.

I graduated from an university with Bachelor's degree in communications. The program I majored in is considered to be more advanced than most programs in other universities - you have to do a thesis and pass it in order to graduate. That doesn't happen until you get to Master's.

With a newly minted degree in hand, I went to job fairs for 2 years. Never missed one. Never got a call or a nibble from anyone at the job fairs. Just postcards/letters with the usual "We have your resume on file and we will contact you" bullshit. That practice has now been discontinued with so disgruntled applicants suing companies for whatever reasons. In fact, I haven't seen anything like this in almost 7 years now.

At one of the job fairs, I handed my resume to a woman at a booth for a local newspaper. She looked over it and seemed okay with it until she spoke to me. When she realized that I am deaf, she said "You do know that we use telephones at work? How could you handle that?" I explained to her that people could call a TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) operator and then they could talk to me as if the operator isn't there. She was shocked by that and I walked away with disgust and contempt clearly written on my face for her. I stopped going to job fairs after that.

About 3 years after graduation, someone at an advocacy company leaked to me about a job opening at a local county government center. I ran over to there and my typing skills impressed the woman who was doing the interviews. She was reluctant to hire me because I was so overqualified. I told her that I was willing to start on the bottom and if I have the skills to move up, surely I would be moved up. That did it for her - she hired me on the spot and I started working the following week.

The day after I started, the manager caught me in a hall that wasn't close to where I was and pulled me aside. She said, "What are you doing here?" and I *knew* exactly what she meant by that...she wasn't asking me why I was out there. I explained about doing the job fairs for 2 years without any result and how I had just gotten married (got married in 2000, almost one month before I started working), and I was desperate for anything. She pondered that for a second and said, "Thank you for your honesty." One month later, she put me at a desk that was in charge of records and I never left that desk for 6 years despite all kinds of discrimination I endured.

I can hear you go, "What kind of discrimination did you face?" Truth be told, the manager, who put me in that desk, never discriminated against me and refused to allow any sort of that to happen. She had 100% faith in my ability to do the job despite having to work with a supervisor who was so universally disliked by all that nobody wanted to work with her...let alone be willingly promoted to that desk.

Naturally, the supervisor got very angry with me during the first week at that desk. The manager was genuinely surprised by how calmly I took the supervisor's rants in stride. I didn't mind the supervisor so much. What got worse was when the manager abruptly retired (she refused to tell me why but it became obvious after...) and the HJIC (Head Jerk In Charge) put in a young woman who used the "rah-rah" style of management. That's exactly when everything went to hell.

The supervisor got even worse with me after the 1st manager retired...co-workers have told me they heard her scream at me, even when I was just a desk away. She would scream my name as I walked away to get something (per her request or job request). She hated how I would get up and go, even when I didn't stop to talk with others. Once she came down hard on me for a simple error of omission and that burned me. Guess what? She made a similar mistake the same day and I told her so. She promptly reported me to the Cheerleader. (Eye roll)

When my wife and I were expecting our first baby, the Cheerleader came to me and encouraged me to change from the old PTO (Personal Time Off) system to the new one "because it's easier for you to build up your vac time versus splitting up the sick time and the vac time...and you'd have to re-accrue the vac time all over again if you used them up." Sounded like a good idea, so I signed the paper.

After my daughter was born, I discovered that I lost all the sick time and the new PTO system caps the hours at 360 (the old system had no cap on sick time and the new one doesn't allow sick time). I spoke with the Cheerleader about that and she said I agreed to use up all the hours before the maternity leave time kicks in. That wasn't in the agreement I signed. Her response? "Oh, that was covered in the policy book." Bleep. You're probably thinking, "What about the maternity leave that was supposed to be guaranteed by law?" The paper I signed stated that I agreed to that. I hated her after that and she quit after being on the job for 6 months.

(Part two to be continued tomorrow)

5 comments:

A Daft Scots Lass said...

your bathroom habits? You gotta be shittin' me!

Garden of Egan said...

I can't even begin to imagine how hard everything is.

I had a deaf patient last week that came into the ER. She was older, didn't know ASL and didnt read lips. We alphabet signed and wrote a lot.

DCHY said...

ADSL - no kidding!

GoE - that's interesting...sounds like she was a hearing person who never learned how to sign when her hearing started to decline. I'm glad you showed patience with that woman.

frances said...

I can't believe the things you have to deal with! That is absolutely insane.

DCHY said...

frances - I know. I am not the only one who experiences this, sadly.