Beware, Small Minded Person

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There are people out there who feel badly about themselves to the point they use others, they hurt others, to feel better about themselves. These are the people in a “culture” who are convinced that greatness cannot come from anywhere but within the culture. They are closed to the potential of others instead they judge, punish, belittle, put down, or disable those that are not part of their culture ultimately making you unwelcome in the culture and cast out from it. Since these Small Minded People are protecting their culture, they feel justified in what they do, even if their actions are abusive and ultimately “wrong”. Cultures have to protect themselves and us being disabled or different are a threat to those cultures.

Work cultures are the same. Politics in the office is very biological, very brutal, life and death type of stuff. Being disabled in a professional setting is at best tenuous. I’m realizing definitively how different it is in Canada and the United States for those of us who are disabled and have a professional career. In both countries the ultimate determinator for an employment experience is your direct manager or your managers manager. These people’s attitudes, beliefs, morals, values, will significantly impact you in an employment situation, either making that employment situation destructive to your soul or allowing you to realize your potential. I’ve experienced both situations, I’ve not experienced much middle ground in this context. Especially lately, on my return to Alberta so far all of my employment situations have been distractive to my soul. I’ve had to live with people protecting their culture and trying to destroy me in the process. In Canada so far to be employed and retain your employment you have to hide your disability or ensure yourself your disability doesn’t impact your work environment. In the United States you are explicitly recognized and protected in a work situation. You can be openly disabled, acknowledge as such, and even ask openly for accommodations to help manage your disability.

I’m at a total loss, no really. I’ve talked about accommodation at work before. Does accommodation stop at big monitor? What about things that might take me a bit more time or things that I need help doing or positioned for success to do. There are always things that each of us, and I know each of us has things that we rely on others to do for us at work because we can’t do it ourselves.

I was on contract at a “major” oil company in Calgary. I shared some “concerns” only. I ask a question the other day, which in the end the project hasn’t answered yet, and I was told to RTFM, “read the F___ing manual”. O.K. I generally don’t read all the “F___ing” documents or manuals for anything I’ve EVER done, EVER. This after doing multiple $100,000.000.00 projects after being world leading in a number of fields in IT and after being the best of the best in at least two fields in Information Technology. My work products are openly challenged, I couldn’t have possibly have produced such a quality piece of work. I must have copied it, plagiarized. Ah no I’ve just done this stuff that long.

I learn orally and surprisingly visually. Have a conversation with me interact with me as a human being and I’m good to go. Questions answered knowledge transferred we are good to go. I have the concept and the information in my head.

I was concerned about a couple of things that are difficult for me to do without either some setup time or some preparation. I have been a top 10 presenter at Microsoft, presenting at their Executive Briefing Center in Redmond to global customers, using translators from time to time. I’ve spoken at all of the major Microsoft conferences and the response has been so positive that my sessions were repeated. I can’t speak to a slide that I have seen before a presentation is given. I need 2 seconds of preparation on the context of the presentation and the content of the slide. I need to know what the message is then when the slide comes up I’ll deliver it. I need prep, during a presentation no matter the room the audience the size of the screens I CAN’T READ the screen.

Coming back to Calgary has been hard. The professional challenges here are not, interesting, or at least haven’t been. I’m going from, global, to local or if it is global its exponentially smaller than anything I’ve done professionally recently. I’m O.K. being a “has been” I’m not out to prove anything. I’m just looking for a decent opportunity, enough money to pay the bills, and good work life balance. I’ve not found it here. It is becoming clear to me that being openly disabled I’m an Activist in Canada, I’m a threat. Believe it or not I”m trying to reduce drama in my life not create it.

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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