Monday, May 14, 2018

Job Outlook: Cautiously Optimistic, with a Side of Confusion

I wrote here a while back about my twentysomething kids' frustration in trying to find jobs, or more accurately, my frustration over their frustration. I complained about employers who don't seem at all interested in giving young people with even fairly mild disabilities a chance, and said those who did would get me singing their praises instead of shaking my fist.

A little while after that, I put a link to the post on Twitter and cc'd a few business who had particularly broken our hearts.

Two things happened almost immediately after. One of the companies I tagged, Chipotle, expressed concern on Twitter. I wound up having a phone conversation that gave me some faith that if one of my kids interviews at a Chipotle again, we'll have a less frustrating experience. If nothing else, we'll stop cursing when we drive by Chipotles now.

The second thing was that a job kind of fell from the sky.

I can't paint a direct line between my Tweet and the call from Wendy's, but it surely seems serendipitous. Unlike so many past job attempts, an online application led quickly to an interview, an acceptance, and a first day on the job. I probably shouldn't jinx it by writing about it, but ... I did promise to sing praises.

It's also particularly appropriate that this so-much-wished-for job comes from Wendy's, which is at least partially responsible for my kids being my kids. Those signs in Wendy's restaurants for the National Adoption Center got us started thinking "Hey, maybe we could adopt an older kid or two." Though we weren't successful finding a match through that program, the agency who did our home study to submit there ultimately started facilitating adoptions in Russia, and showed us a picture of our daughter, waiting in an orphanage. This kind of feels like a full circle somehow.

But of course, as the job fairy giveth, so does the job fairy taketh away. A job I thought my son had has evaporated. This is not the first time someone has said they're hiring this kid, made us wait, and then never done anything about it. It's not so much that I want to fight for this particular job as I want an explanation of how this happens. So Marriott, I've been tweeting at you, and maybe I'll be lucky twice. Check this space.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Open Letter to Employers Who've Rejected My Kids

“Thank you for your interest in employing my young-adult children.”

Wait. You have no interest, do you? Let me start again.

“Thank you for pretending to be interested in employing my young adults so that at least for a brief period of time, we had something to be excited about.”

Though of course, when you reply within seconds of an online application being submitted, you’re kind of cheating us of that. Could you, maybe, delay the auto-rejection for at least as long as it took to fill out those online pages and pages?

Let me try again, for the few that led us on at least a little bit.

“Thank you for having sufficient interest in my young adults to call them in for an interview before breaking their hearts with that rejection e-mail.”

Well, now, wait. So few actually bother to deliver a post-interview rejection, favoring the “If we just never contact them again, they'll figure it out eventually” strategy. Remember that time my daughter kept calling and calling and being promised a reply and nothing, nothing, nothing? Good times!

Maybe: “Thank you for giving my young adults practice in interviewing skills, patience, perseverance, and emotional management of rejection.”

Those are lessons I'm not learning so well, obviously. Sure, I give my kids all the “It's not a personal rejection, it has nothing to do with disability, you don't know who else was in the running or exactly what they were looking for. We'll just keep looking, the right place for you is out there, sweetie."

But what I want to write is:

“Thank you, you inconsiderate, small-hearted, closed-minded, short-sighted hiring person, for your contribution to the chipping away of my kids’ self-confidence and self-esteem. Does it take so much vision and imagination to see young adults with disabilities as worthy of a chance and at least as many opportunities to fall short yet stay employed that you'd give to absolutely anybody else? With just a little help up front, you'd get yourself a long-serving, loyal, enthusiastic, grateful employee. And you'd get me singing your praises on my blog instead of shaking my fist.”

Monday, March 19, 2018

Requiem for a Toy Store

I see in the news that Toys R Us will soon be no more. My kids are past the age now where toys are a major purchase item for us, and I'm certainly happy buying online for any incidental plaything purchases I need to make. But the thought of Toys R Us stores closing still touches my heart, because some of the best times I spent with my son when he was young took place at our local Toys R Us.

Some of the cheapest, too.

The visits I'm thinking of weren't about picking big birthday presents or getting major gear for the yard or the bedroom (although we absolutely had those too—don't blame me for the company going under). The ones I remember most fondly revolved around my son picking out a single Matchbox or Hot Wheels car. One tiny automobile.

Honestly, he could scan those spinners looking for Just the Right One for, like, an hour and a half.

And I'd gladly let him. I'd bring a book with me and find an out-of-the-way patch of floor to sit on while he reveled in the many many many options, going back and forth, considering so carefully, delighted to have the freedom of extremely leisurely choice.

Time to indulge his obsessions was not something he got a lot of in those days. Teachers and therapists were generally invested in preventing exactly that. Focusing attention on what other people found important was at the top of the skill goals others had for him. I was often advised that such obsessions were bad for him and something I must work vigorously to curtail.

I didn't tell them about our ninety-minute toy store idylls.

I had come to learn that his obsessions—for little toy cars, certainly, and for keys as well—offered the kind of door into his attention and personality and interest that was otherwise so hard to find. I was sure not going to slam it. While our Toys R Us car-search visits weren't what some parents would call "together time," since we weren't actually interacting, these moments of peaceful co-existence were a nice oasis in an often stressful time in our lives.

Mom got a little respite with her book. Boy got time to focus on something that interested him. And in the end, I bought a 99-cent car and we headed home. Lots of value for that 99 cents.

I'm grateful for Toys R Us for allowing us the space and tolerance to just let a boy endlessly shop and look and love and appreciate and make whatever calculations were going on in his head. And let a mom just hang without hurrying him. It was a safe and peaceful space, and one we needed. RIP, old store. You'll live in my memory.