My late boyfriend Joe had a volunteer job for a while. He had chosen the location himself, approached the folks in charge and they gave him a job. However, after the first day on the job, Joe seemed discouraged. I asked him why.
He said they had him sitting at a desk and told him to give people directions if they asked. He also had to answer the phone if it rang.
For the entire four hours, he said, no one asked him for directions and the phone did not ring once.
I am well familiar with this sort of volunteer job, where they take one look at you and then, put you in some position where you aren’t really needed. Or wanted. I think it was 1983 that I went to volunteer in a hospital, the same hospital where I had been a patient. I did the exact same job that Joe did.
We talked about this at length. The reasons why these volunteer coordinators put us in useless jobs were different, but it amounted to classism, which was at the root of their snobbery. In my case, they decided that since I was an MP, I was useless and incapable. In Joe’s case, they came to the same conclusion because he had a visible disability. Neither of us was given a chance.
You won’t last long at such a job. That’s what they want, of course.
The real killer was that we both watched “candy stripers,” who were high school kids, doing real work. Mostly they delivered parcels from one unit to another. It was disheartening indeed that we weren’t even considered worthy of that.
There have been times in my life since then that I have been completely disregarded. I’m sure you guys have been through, it, too. When people look right through you like you aren’t there. It was like that for me at that supposed liberal church, too. For two years in a row I was left out of the “greeters” list. I was told this was an oversight. I was fairly sure this couldn’t happen twice accidentally. Yes, they did know I was an MP. I told them. Because I was stupid enough to do so.
I think this kind of thing happens in everyday life, too. If you work, I bet there are people at work who think they’re above you in some fashion. They never give you meaningful responsibility because they see you as incapable.
Yesterday I had an aide working with me. By all means, the teacher and the aide need to work cooperatively, that is, they need to at least communicate. I noticed that the kids like this aide. They definitely gravitate toward certain teachers and staff members more than others. They interacted with him a lot, joked around, etc. I knew he would come into my classroom during one of my classes. I said hello to him early in the day. He walked right by me.
Then, in the classroom, several times I spoke to him, mostly about trivial matters such as the fact that the door stopper didn’t work. I was shocked at his attitude. He didn’t react when I spoke to him. He didn’t even acknowledge my presence. It wasn’t that I felt invisible. To him, it was reality. I was indeed totally invisible.
Okay, Dude, maybe I am not quite young enough for you. Maybe I am not pretty enough, or too short to be worth your while. I’ll never know.
This, to me, symbolized how I was treated the whole time I was a known MP. That casual disregard. Behind it was their desire to make me totally disappear, get out of the way, because they had important things to do that they perceived were completely beyond me.
There is no place in my life for such snobbery. If you think you’re better than others, just get out of my life, please.
Diagnosis creates an excuse for non-diagnosed people to exclude and discriminate. Diagnosis is a form of classism at its very heart. While there are other forms, such as racism and homophobia, diagnosis gives people a reason to exclude when they can’t think of other reasons.
In fact, perceived diagnosis is sometimes seen as a valid reason to exclude, while race and gender discrimination are now off limits in many sectors of society.
I don’t think things are going to change very soon. There are a lot of circles where I am not included, even now. I have given up. I would rather find the underclass, where people are seen as people, where they have this odd idea that no one is better than anyone else.