Sunday, February 3, 2008

Making a Difference

For those of you who work in or teach disability studies, you really are following a calling and making a difference in the world. Disability rights are an important civic issue, and teaching others how to advocate or to think critically about disability is as crucial as teaching people about gender and race. So thank you. Really.

I met another woman last week who had found her calling, in a sales job, not a job most people would think of as their life's work. She had lost her previous job, her marriage, and her beloved son in a month's time. She had difficulty getting out of bed and functioning at all. Driving past a mobility equipment place which she'd passed many times before, she decided to walk in and ask for a job. On the one year anniversary of her son's death, the owner called and offered her the job, not knowing her situation and how that helped turn her life around on that difficult day. So she now helps families get the right lifts and equipment for their cars, advising them on possible problems various vehicles might pose for different disabilities. She'd used such equipment for her son and recognizes that when people are at the point of getting lifts and ramps, it's often for the first time, at a vulnerable stage when you realize things probably aren't going to get better soon and more permanent solutions are needed. What she told me is that it's not that she's giving to customers, but they are giving to her, because knowing they need her allows her to get out of bed each day and to continue on despite her grief.

PS, no matter what she says, she's giving a lot. She called directly to both the lift manufacturers and to the scooter manufacturer to make sure everything was compatible, and let us know that if we purchased a different vehicle, we'd have to have two motors because of the trunk/bumper (thus it would cost us more money than the other initially more expensive vehicle). We got to see how everything would work and how much strength it would require from me, something I couldn't tell from photos of these lifts.


Penny L. Richards said...

It's so great when competent, caring people are in those unsung-but-crucial jobs. And if the job works for her needs too--wow, that's ideal.

Anonymous said...

At this point in my life I have a job that I really love, which some might call underachieving. I go over to a guy's house for a few hours each day. I do his laundry, wash his dishes, help him with his personal care, go shopping with him, etc.

The money's not so great, and the prestige is on the low end, but every time I leave he lets me know he appreciates my assistance.

Tha makes the whole thing worth it.