For The Disabled Parking “Looks Like We Made It”

, , , , , , , | | Friendly | June 14, 2019

(Both my mom and my oldest brother are disabled — her from back surgery, him from a motorcycle accident that required a plate in his leg, then later on an accident at a construction site where he fell off a ladder and went feet-first into a huge pile of drywall, leaving him needing reconstructive surgery on his ankles. We’re going to the post office to put some bills in the mail directly. I can’t stand my brother’s music, so I have my CD walkman with me and I’m listening to Barry Manilow. The parking lot is crowded but there’s one handicapped space left, so we throw up the placard and I get out to put the mail in the inside box. A woman taps me on the shoulder, so I take one headphone off my ear.)

Woman: “Excuse me. Do you have a handicapped placard?”

Me: *pointing to it* “Yes, my brother and mom are both disabled, and you can see it’s hanging up.”

Woman: “Well, my mother is disabled and I just had to park on the other side of the parking lot.”

Me: “Well, we do have a placard.”

Woman: “I should’ve been able to park there since I have a placard for my mother!”

Me: *motioning to where the placard can be clearly seen* “So do we.”

(I put my headphones back on and head inside, annoyed that this woman kept me from doing what would’ve taken me less than ten seconds just to whine when we have a placard, too. She’s gone when I get back to the car.)

Brother: “She was still shaking her head and talking to you when you walked away.”

Me: *sighs and goes back to listening to Barry Manilow*

The World Is Spinning

, , , , | | Friendly | June 13, 2019

(I’m in a wheelchair. My partner rolls me into the elevator. An elderly man grabs my handlebars from her and pulls and shifts me until he’s turned me around completely. I’m panicking too much to speak.)

Elderly Man: “There you go, sweetie!”

(We were both in shock as he exited the elevator, not even riding it. He never spoke to either of us, aside from what I wrote. Would you grab a walking person and forcibly turn them around?!)

In Sore Need Of A Real Diagnosis

, , , , | | Healthy | June 12, 2019

(I am in middle school and have been home sick for the past couple days with a bad sore throat and high fever. On the third day, my throat is still so sore I can’t speak or swallow anything and I am still exhausted, so at breakfast, I try to tell my grandparents, whom I live with, that I don’t think I can go to school. This does not go over well. Note, my grandfather is a licensed family physician and has successfully run his own practice for the past forty years.)

Grandfather: “Your glands aren’t swollen and you don’t feel that warm. It’s normal for a sore throat to linger. You’ve missed enough school; you can’t miss anymore. You’ll be fine.”

(My grandmother defers to his “diagnosis” and drives me to school, even though I haven’t eaten anything because swallowing is agony. I get there early and hang out in the school entryway waiting for the homeroom bell. I am just miserable. I’m achy and exhausted, and my throat hurts so much it’s making me cry. The school nurse walks by and notices the tears.)

Nurse: “[My Name], what’s wrong?”

(I try to tell her my throat hurts, but nothing comes out. She ushers me into her office.)

Nurse: “Well, let’s start with taking a temperature, okay? Just hold on a minute.”

(She puts the thermometer in my ear and waits for it to beep. After she reads it, there’s a beat of silence.)

Nurse: “Wow. [My Name], you can’t be here. I’m going to have to call your parents.”

(It turned out I had a 103-degree fever. Less than ten minutes after she dropped me off, my grandmother got a phone call from the nurse to come and pick me up. I didn’t even make it to homeroom. So much for not feeling “that warm”! Thankfully, my grandfather has a sense of humor, because I have never let him live that one down.)

Perfect Attendance, But God, At What Cost?

, , , , , | | Learning | June 11, 2019

I grew up with a girl who was a bit shy but extremely smart and talented. Unfortunately, her parents were super strict about her always being the “best” in school, participating in a million extracurricular activities, etc. It really wore her down, and by the time we reached middle school in the late 1990s, she was exhausted. They were especially proud of all of the awards she won at the end of year assembly. You know, perfect attendance, the President’s physical fitness test, etc.

One weekend, towards the end of our eighth-grade year, she called to tell me she wasn’t feeling well and asked if I could gather any homework assignments for her on Monday if she didn’t make it to school. Not a problem, I said, and personally, I thought she could use the break.

Monday morning rolled around and here came [Girl] trudging into class and looking the sickest I’d ever seen her. I asked why she’d come to school, and it turned out her parents didn’t want her to “ruin” her perfect attendance record. They wanted her to have a certificate for every year of school, like that was something colleges were going to be looking for. Even the teachers were concerned. But [Girl] insisted on staying until they made her go home at lunchtime and promised her “record” would still show she was at school that day.

I didn’t think anything else about it until a couple of days later when I woke up feeling pretty horrible myself. I had a high fever, and my mom immediately called me out of school and took me to the doctor’s office. Turns out, I had mononucleosis. Yep, [Girl] had come to school with a raging case of mono. When we got home, my mom put me to bed and started calling other parents, and the list of sick kids kept getting longer.

And that’s how nearly half the eighth grade class at my school all caught mono at the same time. And it was all because this poor girl’s parents didn’t want her to lose her perfect attendance record.

A Tale Of Fired And Ice

, , , , , , , | | Working | June 7, 2019

(It snowed yesterday, turning into freezing rain overnight. I was an hour late coming into work last week — never set my alarm — so I have been very anxious trying to be on time or early every day since, so I run out the door without my snow boots, knowing it will only add time to my commute and make me even later. I make it to my car to find that the few inches of snow on my car are completely covered in ice. I text my bosses to let them know I am not going to be there on time due to the snow and ice, and I receive:)

Text From Boss: “Okay, drive safe.”

(In an effort to minimize how late I am going to be; I begin furiously chopping away at the ice. This is a difficult task, and my slip-on flats are exposing my feet to the elements. After about ten minutes, I decide it is time to get my boots. Walking probably quicker than I should back to my condo, I find myself lying on my back looking up at the sky with a sharp pain on the back of my head. I lay there for a few seconds, remember what my mission is, and scramble to my feet and onto the sidewalk. I swap out my footwear and shuffle back to the car. Once I break the car free, I text my bosses the update of my slip. While driving to work, I keep thinking about the pending “talk” with my boss and wonder if I am going to be fired. The minute I arrive at the office, 40 minutes late, I am surrounded by my bosses and coworkers, all of whom have adult children my age.)

Boss #1: “Oh, my gosh, are you okay?”

Coworker #1: “Do you think you have a concussion?”

Boss #1: “Do you need to go to the hospital?”

Coworker #1: “Did you make it here okay?”

(I’m an overly emotional person, and after thinking I would get fired, the frustration with the snow and ice, and the startling slip with a hard hit on my head, I burst into tears.)

Boss #1: “Oh, no! What’s wrong?”

Coworker #1: “Are you hurt?”

Boss #1: “Are you okay?”

Coworker #1: “Aww, why are you crying?”

Boss #1: “Do you need a hug?”

(My boss offers a hug, saying I remind her of her daughter my age, and tells me to take a few minutes in the bathroom to clean up and compose myself. All is well after that. The rest of the day is sprinkled with ice and concussion jokes, but they also sincerely keep checking in on me and my head. At one point, one of my bosses asks how I am feeling as she is walking out the door.)

Boss #2: “Hey, are you okay? How’s your head?”

Me: “It’s fine, thank you.”

([Boss #2] starts to close the door behind her.)

Coworker #1: “Hey, [My Name], how many [Boss #2]s do you see?”

Me: “Well, none, since she’s out the door.”

Coworker #1: “Okay, good. If you said two or one-and-a-half, I was going to be concerned.”

Coworker #2: “What day is it?”

Me: “Wednesday.”

Coworker #2: “Who’s the president?”

Me: “Don’t remind me…”

Coworker #1: “Okay, good, she’s aware. Don’t remind her, [Coworker #2].”

Coworker #2: “I was just making sure.”

Me: “That concussion is looking better and better.”

(Later that day, I decided to look up the official weather policy. If schools are delayed two hours or more or are canceled, employees are allowed an extra hour to arrive safely. I was within the hour, so I breathed a sigh of relief reading that. At the end of the day, with [Boss #1] gone, I talked to [Boss #2] about what was running through my head that morning. I told her I was scared I was going to get fired, but she assured me that as soon as [Boss #1] saw the text that I slipped and hit my head, she was extremely concerned and no anger was present at all. I get to be employed another day, and my alarm has been preset earlier for every work day, so I hopefully won’t have to worry about being late again.)

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