Did Not Volunteer For This Treatment

, , , , , , | | Working | July 4, 2019

(I volunteer at a miniature science museum during summer break, which is characterized by its “Mess Kits,” little boxes with science experiments for children in them. Volunteers work at the Mess Kit Desk and provide information or kits to anyone who comes up to it. The owner is rather lenient when it comes to phone usage during lulls in activity. I’m 16 and quite obviously autistic, as I tend to stim in public. One of the paid workers has been on my back for several months, constantly berating my work, speaking to me in an extremely condescending tone, and telling me that the way I speak and treat people is very rude. She screeches at me for drawing, reading, or checking my phone no matter the situation and has nearly brought me to tears several times. My brother and another volunteer are working at the desk with me in this story. My brother notices the painful lull, takes out his phone, and sits in front of the desk. The other volunteer glances up and looks back down at her phone. I finish sweeping, which was the only other job available, and sit on the floor behind the two since there’s no other chairs up front. I’m there for not even a minute when the paid employee walks up to the front of the desk.)

Paid Employee: “[My Name]! You need to stay off your phone! We’ve discussed this. Do I need to take it away?”

(I gape, as my brother and the other volunteer are in her direct line of sight on their phones and she has to strain to see me specifically, clearly singling me out.)

Me: “B-but…”

Paid Employee: “You need to learn to follow directions!”

(My brother’s phone is a foot away from her face.)

Me: “I j-just swept…”

Paid Employee: “Then find something else to do!” *leaves without saying a word to the two volunteers directly in front of her*

(I barely make it to the bathroom before I start crying, inconsolable, and my mother picks me up. My brother backs up my story, so she urges me to draft an email to the owner explaining the rude and condescending treatment I’ve suffered thanks to [Paid Employee]. The owner apologizes, saying she will speak to the employee about her behavior, but also suggests I just work shifts the employee doesn’t take. I work up the nerve to return as a volunteer, and to my luck, I see the rude employee about halfway into my shift.)

Brother: “Look out!”

Paid Employee: *blanches as soon as she sees me, quickly looks away, and rushes to finish her task!*

(She avoids me as much as I avoid her, now. I guess she really didn’t expect anyone to report her discrimination!)

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