Thursday, January 13, 2011

Something along the lines of....

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my vendors, an investigator, someone I've known, albeit only slightly, for 10 years now.  He does a great job, though I don't need to use him that often.  His wife died last year (?) and I sent him a condolence note.  He wrote a thank you note in response - i.e. nice guy.  I'd asked him to door knock someone for me - he called after talking to this lady and provided all the pertinent information but mentioned that he didn't take a formal statement because the witness was busy with her new baby.  Who had Down Syndrome.  And it was pretty sad. 

It was one of those moments - fish or cut bait?  step up or back down?  After we were done talking about my case I said something probably complete incoherent but along the lines of "Hey, there's something else..." Long, pregnant, very awkward pause... He finally said (something along the lines of) "It's me.  What?" 

"I only say this because we have exchanged condolence cards but my daughter and that baby have something in common..." [THAT was clear as mud.  Silence.  Trying again.]  And this time in a clear voice, I said, "My daughter has Down Syndrome too.  We are not sorry.  Saying it's sad tends to rile the parents up".  [Nice use of the 3rd person there]. 

He was very apologetic.  I told him about ten times not to be, it was just a phrasing thing, & I still think he's a great guy.  He said that someone he's close to has a kid with DS too [Some of my best friends are!].  He said something about they're such sweet kids, blah, blah.  Pretty much everything he shouldn't have said.  But this is about the sweetest most innocuous person you could ever meet.  I wasn't offended, didn't want to make him feel bad (jeez, his wife just died), just wanted to set the record straight:  THIS IS NOT A TRAGEDY. 

This is also my first reasonably successful stab at advocacy.

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The first non-successful attempt:   my leaves-me-entirely-alone-thus-is-fabulous boss called meeting for the annual HR "We don't discriminate"pep talk.  I'd been working for him for about 6-9 months, I think?  His job is to read the manifesto and have everyone sign the acknowledgement forms.  Dry, time-suck of a meeting.  So he tried to lighten things up.  "We don't discriminate against [insert various minorities]...except for stupid people."  It wasn't a one time badda-bing, it was the running punch line for a hour.  "We will always be polite and professional to everyone...except for stupid people."  And lest he forget, I was sitting RIGHT NEXT TO HIM, my foot shaking faster and faster, my doodling ever more focused.   When the meeting was over, I walked back to my desk, waited maybe 13 seconds, said something along the lines of F*** It, marched back into his office, shut the door without asking and, literally pacing back and forth in his tiny, tiny office, said that if one more person said retard or made a joke about drooling people I was going [I trailed off here.  I had no plan.  Not exactly a cinematic speech].  But then I said "You've been over to my desk.  You've seen the pictures of my kids.  YOU are not stupid.  Not everyone's kid is going to college". 

He was sitting in his chair, said I'm sorry, said nothing else, and I flounced out.  He never came back 'round to see if I was Ok with our little chat.  This past year he had the HR pep talk on a day I was off.  I presume that was not accidental.  He's occasionally friendly and, as I mentioned, leaves me alone so we're OK.  Mixed reviews on the advocacy.  Yes, I said something.  No, it was not entirely coherent.  No, it was not done in flagrante but I'll give myself a pass on that one since it's probably not a good career move to tell the boss off in front of his other employees. The first time at least.   

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There've been 2 other times people used the "R" word and I said (something along the lines of) "Please don't use that word."  Or, "You're not really going to use that word with me?"  Non-memorable events. 

I did not say something to the guy on the other side of my cubicle one day when he was joking with someone about a bunch of drooling people getting off a bus.  I didn't catch the whole conversation.  I hate myself a little for that. 

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And this has been said before, better, elsewhere, but the point is I see no reason why my little girl's mommy has to listen to the same crap that's she's going to have hurled at her on the playground for the next 10+ years, at the office.  From her allegedly adult, professional co-workers.  Who, let's face it, are not curing cancer.  I just need to work on my lines a little more....

1 comment:

  1. Can a distinction be made between "stupid people" and someone who has an intellectual or developmental disability? I guess when I think of "stupid", I think of ignorance and someone who chooses, whether consciously or subconsciously, to revel in his/her own world of dumbass-ness.

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