Job Days Redux

Assuming I’ve done this correctly, you should be reading this as I’m at work. this is because I’ve decided I’d attempt scheduling a post for the first time. Interesting idea.

Last year at about this time, ok a couple weeks earlier I’ll admit, I’d written a piece about the job I did at my current employer. At that time, I worked to assemble combination locks, getting my hands all greasy from the bodies as I piled them onto a tray with attaching chain. The orders for that dried up at the end of May, and it’s been so long now that I’m not entirely sure I can remember how to do it anymore. I think they’ll get us up and running over there again sometime soon.

One of the reasons I’ve opted to post about my current work is I saw via a Twitter follower that this is National Supported Employment Week. Or maybe that was last week. In any event, it’s a time to think about disability and employment.

According to what I learned from my brief stint in a graduate-level Rehabilitation Counseling program, Supported Employment pairs a person with a disability, usually a condition that’s may require a bit of adjustment to effectively do the job such as Autism, Intellectual Disability, or another developmental disability, with a job coach or trainer. The levels of SE, as it is often abbreviated, can vary based on a person’s needs. It is a good program that helps to bring meaning to the lives of many and engender pride and satisfaction and accomplishment. I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who choose to enter careers that make this option available for those who can use it.

While I and most blind and low vision people don’t really use supported employment, we are still often employed in sheltered settings as I cuttently am. These are workshops that hire people specifically based on their disability status, and they at least provide some basic level of work, often as routine as the job I’ve done before and that which I’m now doing.

I currently am in a section where we make light sticks that soldiers can use in the field, and that don’t require batteries to work. I think they have some sort of chemical that becomes active when the top is broken off. We do the whole thing, from placing them into foil, packing them ten to a labeled box, and putting them onto a conveyor belt to be packed into larger boxes for shipment. I am one of the packers who place the boxes onto the belts. You can hear how that sounds here, if curious.

When the sticks are in high supply, the days sail by. However, I’m already noticing that we seem to be heading toward the typical summer trickle. So I’m more often finding myself with head bouncing off of chest or worse, off of the sharp edge of the pocket that holds the box as I rapidly shove sticks in on a specially made workstation. Fun times.

And on the subject of time, my routine has changed markedly little. I guess if anything, I feel I’ve somehow become more efficient with my use of time. I can shove down a bowl of cereal, make a sandwich, and complete other tasks all while still practically asleep. Then it’s to the bus stop, where I now usually have a couple of other companions waiting with me, come wind, rain, or freezing cold! Thankfully Spring seems finally to be settling into the Southeast.

Am I glad to be employed? Of course, as it’s leading to so many more freedoms. But I still desire to do something more with my existence than this. I admit to finding figuring out just what that should be is proving more of a challenge than I’d thought. Perhaps I can do one of these reviews every year, as a means of gauging my progress or if any has been made.

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