Job Days No. 3

Well, it amazes me to look up and realize that I’m already about a quarter of the way through year three at Durham’s LC Industries, my current place of employment. I guess I’ve made it something of a habit, mostly for my own records, to take an annual look at how things are going, and whether I’m making any progress towards where I would like to be. The last two evaluations have been at about this time of year as well, so I figured why not go for it?

First, I ask myself if my morning routine has altered any. It’s amusing to ponder how small changes here and there slowly turn into something quite different from what was, isn’t it?

  • 4:15: Alarm rings, I spend another three minutes checking email on the phone and coming up with every other conceivable thing to view to keep myself wrapped in those warm covers.
  • 4:20: I grudgingly roll out of bed, find clothes, and totter into the warm shower stream. Usually, too-loud singing commences and mingles with the sound of falling water that is largely undetectable to my unaided ears.
  • 4:35: Dressed and with socks on, I plug the phone into my table speakers and rock out to either Pandora, or increasingly, our local stations on TuneIn Radio. I like Pandora, but they tend to play the same stuff too often sometimes.
  • 4:45: After banging dishes around, I make a bowl of cereal, sometimes getting the kernels and droplets of milk onto the tabletop as well. Hey, I wasn’t built to function this early in the morning!
  • 4:57: I scramble around in the fridge to see if there are any sandwich products available, either Bologna and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, (crunchy, gotta be crunchy!). If the former, I have to make a concerted effort to remember not to leave the opened jar of mayonnaise on the counter. Man, I’ve lost at least 12 nearly full jars that way. (Refer to earlier bit regarding morning person status).
  • 5:08: Brush teeth while dancing to a tune in the living room, attempt not to actually sing while so doing as choking on toothpaste would probably not be a good idea.
  • 5:15: Out the door, on way to bus stop. I’ve gotten considerably better at crossing the street now as I know there will almost always be a point when it is totally quiet.
  • 5-35: Step aboard, while engaging random passengers in groggy conversation. I guess more and more people have come to know me with time.
  • 6: Catch second bus, fire off texts and more email with the Braille display as we whizz down the highway, and try to mentally prepare myself for the day.
  • 6:30: Arrive in break room, where I read till the bell rings, calling me to my station around 7 AM.

I guess the biggest difference is that I now make lunch nearly every day. I’m not sure if that helps or hinders me though, as once 12 PM rolls around and that stuff is being digested, I usually have to overcome some pretty powerful waves of sleepiness.

Now onto what I do in there. I still work in Light Sticks, packing ten to a box and vaulting them onto a conveyor belt as I had last year. Master Locks has pretty much reopened now, but I assume I will not return to that department and will just remain where I am for however long I stay at this organization. I’ve sped my production up about four times as compared to where I was, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be as dexterous as the true fliers back there. I guess that’s ok, as long as I no longer have people having to swarm around me nearly all day in order to ensure that my bin doesn’t get too far behind the others. It took me a while to understand the innerconnectedness of that whole area and just what was expected from me, but I think I’ve made pretty good strides nonetheless.

And so the final question: what am I doing to prepare for some other career opportunity. Well, still kind of trying to figure that out actually. I continue to learn and grow as President of the Norrie Disease Association, and especially in attempting to plan for our Third International Conference coming this August. (It’s harder than it looks! So many different things to juggle.) I have had a few at least semi-accomplishments though: successfully contacting two potential speakers/panel participants, getting initial info on a tour of the Perkins School for the Blind, and working with other board members to sort out registration challenges. It’s fun, dynamic, and definitely something that I think could help me down the road. Maybe I’ll work for a nonprofit in some capacity, who knows. I’m chewing on that…

So overall, I think things are going as good as could be hoped for. I’m used to just going in here and doing what I have to do, five days a week, and continuing to work on myself in other ways wherever possible. Still trying to fully sit back and enjoy the ride! Always appreciative of those who support me in doing this in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

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.