I Waited To Disclose My Disability. Here’s What Happened.

This is part two of Ali’s interview story. You can catch part one here, where she walks us through her job search experience.

A laptop next to a phone and some pencils and pensOn the day of my job interview, I turned from nervous to excited. At least, while I was on the bus.

I had scheduled the ride well in advance. They usually drop off all the on-campus riders before the off-campus ones, but that day, even though the other passenger was staying on campus, the driver went out of his way to drop me off first. This was a job interview, and the driver agreed with me that the earlier I got there, the better.

When we arrived, the driver led me in the building, and that’s when the excitement turned to nervousness. Remember: I hadn’t told them ahead of time that I was blind, so I’d be walking in with my cane and they were going to have to interact with me face-to-face.

Or were they? What if they told me to leave? Would they really tell me that? Why might they? All these thoughts were circulating around my head when the driver approached someone at the desk and told them I was here for an interview. I took it from there — I can speak for myself.

The receptionist hesitated a moment. “You’re here for the job?” she asked, and I couldn’t tell if maybe it was just me over-analyzing it or if she actually sounded skeptical. Like, skeptical of my ability or something. I gave a confident smile and said yes. She told me to sit down. I politely asked her to lead me to a chair, and she acted flustered while giving me directions.

Once I was seated, she then gave me the name of the person who would be interviewing me. My heart sank. It was the same person I’d talked to on the phone, the one I didn’t want to talk to now. But I had to. I plastered on a smile and said, “Okay, thanks.”

When the interviewer explained the job, he said material had to be “sent over” to a department where data is collected. I am familiar with Microsoft Excel and spreadsheets, that sort of thing, but the guy said they don’t have the type of software I would need to do the job. He practically dismissed me right then and there.

I think I took this all well, though. I thanked him for his time, and I also made him aware that a lot of blind people do search for jobs. I told him it’s very possible that I’m not the only blind person he will see interviewing for this job. I recommended he call the Disability Resource Center here on campus. If nothing else, maybe they’ll have a software recommendation.

When I walked out of the office, though, I was very discouraged. I called the bus driver, and when I told him I was ready for a ride home, he said, “You’re done already?” The interview was supposed to last a half-hour. It had only been ten minutes. I could tell the driver knew from my voice it did not go well. “I’m on my way,” he said.

I called my boyfriend Joe from the bus, of course. This was one of those days where being blind is really difficult. It doesn’t normally bother me. Sometimes I just have minor mishaps throughout the day where I think, “This would be easier if I could see,” but this… this felt different. It sort of shook my confidence for a while.

When I told all this to Joe, he sympathized. He said he was sorry it didn’t go well, but he was proud of me for putting myself out there and getting the experience. He also took the time to remind me of a talk we had a while ago about the advantages of being blind.

It’s something I try to remember when I have these type of days.


 

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  1. Ali Krage Says:

    Thank you, that means a lot!


  2. Mary Jo Drager Says:

    I stumbled on this post, Kudos! You are an engaging writer. Now I am going to look for your first installment on this topic. If someone is looking for a person who could do telephone interviews and newsletter writing you could fill the bill; I would hire you.


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