My first month selling theme park tickets at my current job was one well-earned. I made it through an extensive training, something many of my trainers didn’t think I could pull off given my limitations.
I’m a naturally fast learner and I absorb knowledge like a sponge. I wanted this job more than anything and I was able to pass my assessment with no problems. Although my already weak eyes were getting quite a workout, I was able to make do with a magnifier or in worse case scenarios, a borrowed camera lens from my boyfriend at the time.
All was going well until one day when an elderly guest in a mobility scooter paid me a visit looking to buy an annual pass. One thing was thrown at me towards the end of my transaction that somehow in all my training, I forgot about. How to refund a parking fee.
I apologized to the women whose parking I accidentally forgot to refund, because at that point I couldn’t do a refund. My booth mate that day was in the middle of taking care of someone else and was slowly telling me there was a way to fix it.
As I went to explain to the guest what happened, and that I was new to the job, a hurtful comment was made.
“Why are you even working here if you don’t know what you’re doing?”
“OK,” I thought. “I can handle that.”
Then she spouted at me, “Disabled people should never be in the workforce. You’re too blind to work here. Who was the quack that let you in to begin with?”
Between her yelling and my booth mate trying the best he could to help me in between juggling an already backed up line of people, my mind drew a blank and I just shut down at that point. I thought to myself, “Disabled people shouldn’t be in the workforce? And this is coming from a woman in a scooter?” Despite this, I was pulling off my best “Tour Guide Barbie” face.
My manager swung past to say hello as chaos ensued, and I tried to play it off like I was a capable “goodie goodie” who knew everything.
Miss Scooter saw my manager’s normal clothes and name tag and put two and two together as she whizzed behind my booth screaming her head off about me.
But my manager’s reaction was one that surprised me.
“Miss, I understand your frustration, but my team here are all capable of doing their jobs, including Manda. There is no need for my intervention. They’ll have this fixed in no time.”
She said, “capable.”
I was capable? Never in the history of me holding a job had that word ever come into play, let alone in my defense.
After we got our guest on her way, I melted into a sea of emotion. I excused myself from my position, not wanting to be seen or bothered, at which time I sat on the floor in the back of the booth just wanting to disappear.
It was then that my manager picked me up off the ground, gave me a hug and said, “You did an awesome job sweetie.”
A year later and I’m still working here, because people believed in me.
At times of great doubt in the big crazy world that is my job, I look back at that day and what I have accomplished since then, despite what others think of me.
I can only hope the woman who came to my booth looks back at all that has happened and realizes a little bit of compassion and patience can go a long way. Especially with those who are trying to help make your vacation a good one.
Experience is something learned beyond a classroom, and this experience for me will last a lifetime.
The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.
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