Melissa Hevenor
Sunday September 22 , 2019
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A Work in Progress (A look at Myself and Equality)

Life recently has been a whilrlwind of blessings and hardships, and ninety-nine per cent of the time, I feel exztremely blessed to live in the United States where we have beautiful freedoms, although recently, I have seen even clearer that quality is a work in progress. I’m very happy that I recently was given the opportunity to apply for a job in counseling, doing what I love, which is working with kids. Although the application process was surprisingly challenging, the challenges were in no way caused by the facility that is hiring me, but, by the logistics of the application process. To start with, I had to take a drug test, because the facility is a drug-free envivronment, and once again, I had done this before for other jobs, so this was not something new to me, however, the manner in which I was treated throughout this process, looking back, was pretty funny. In order to be tested, I had to pee into a cup, giving them enough of a urine sample to do the test. When I first started, a nurse at this walk-in clinic, escorted me into a bathroom with no running water, and closed the door behind me, after placing an empty plastic cup in my hand. Before I even had time to pull my pants down, the nurse was banging on the door, and telling me that time was up, because everyone getting a drug test, is timed in the bathroom. “Excuse me?,” I said in shock. “Time’s up, you need to come out in 45 seconds,” she replied. To which I said, “I mean no harm, but I haven’t even gotten my pants down yet. It could easily take me up to 15 minutes in the bathroom.” All the while, I’m thinking, “Thank G-d, I can be self-sufficient, but I’m still not the fastest mover in the bathroom, especially in a new environment, where I am extra careful not to fall.” After a brief moment of silence, the nurse informed me I could try again, however she would have to escort me into another bathroom. Then, without even attempting to go to the bathroom, I pulled up my pants, and headed into the next chosen bathroom. At which point, the nurse grabbed the plastic cup out of my hands, and took a pen and drew a line on the plastic cup, showing me how much of a specimen was needed. Perhaps the fact that I take more time in the bathroom made her assume that my intelligence was less than she first anticipated. Heading into the second bathroom, going on 15 minutes from the time I entered the clinic, I was not even allowed to use my phone to call my driver, to tell him what the holdup was. In fact, my driver came into the lobby, asking about my whereabouts, and the receptionist announced she was not allowed to reveal who was in the back rooms getting tested. At this point, my bewildered friend and driver, Glenn, said, “What are you talking about? I brought her here.” “Sorry, Sir, that’s our policy,” to which Glenn retreated back to the van, to wait for me, thinking that I had fallen in. Once I was in the second bathroom, the nurse announced that she was going to give me a couple of extra minutes, and this time, I was able to pee in the cup, however, I was not able to stand up straight enought to lift the cup up out from under me without spilling some back in the toilet. Therefore, the specimen did not reach the line that the nurse had so diligently drawn on my little plastic cup. “Damn!,” I said, before realizing I said it out loud, and the nurse shouted, “Are you okay in there?” I then came out and said, “I caught some, but it’s not up to the line.” Looking at me disapprovingly, she got closer to me, as though I were Deaf, and she stated, “You have to give us enough up to the line.” I then tried to explain why I did not have enough in the cup, when she handed me a bottle of water, and told me to start drinking. At this point, I was thinking in my mind, “isn’t it ironic that I am the one considered to be disabled, but the nurse could not comprehend that the problem was not actually a lack of specimen, but that I was not able to collect it properly, due to my inability to stand up straight enough to get the cup out from under me without spilling it?” Thus, drinking more water was not going to solve the problem. At this point, feeling more frustrated, I said, “You are more than welcome to come in with me, and help me retrieve it, if you like.” You would have thought I’d asked her for a kidney. “Oh no,” she proclaimed, “that goes beyond my duties.” “In that case,” I replied, “may I leave and come back tomorrow with someone to help me?” “No, if you leave it’s an automatic “Fail” of the drug test, by default, and it will go in your paperwork that you failed the test by refusal to comply.” “Refusal to comply? I can’t help it that my body refuses to stand up straighter!” The nurse then said, “I understand, but under our policy you must try for three consistent hours, unsuccessfully, before we are allowed to let you leave without it being considered a failure of the test. By now, I was almost in tears, as I had been ridiculously drinking water, thinking that perhaps, if I filled my bladder enough, I would catch enough to meet the damn line. After trying yet again, and having the same result of spilling half the specimen before retrieving it, I then got back in my wheelchair, went out to the desk and said, “I’m going to call ‘Help Me, Howard,’ because I am being treated like a criminal and I only wanted to complete a drug test for employment as a counselor.” ‘Help Me, Howard’ is a local journalist that people call when they feel as though they have been treated unjustly and after two and one-half hours of these shennanigans, I had reached my limit. Finally, a manager came and said, “Let me call the facility and see if we can do a Rapid test on you.” Within minutes, she came back and said that a Rapid test was fine, and they only needed a drop or so, which was collected quickly and I left. As I was headed out the door, the same nurse who had caused me so much frustration and insisted on confidentiality, shouted, “Good news, Sweetheart, the test came back negative, there’s nothing in your sytsem.”

The next hurdle in this Employment journey was getting my fingerprints done. Ironically, I had my fingerprints done for the northern county, where I live, because of my prior jobs, but needed to get them redone for the southern county where I would be working. Upon entering this facility, there was barely enough room for my wheelchair to get into the lobby, and then, when I was called back to get the actual fingerprints, the computer that does the imaging was at a station that was so high there was no way I could reach it, and when the technician saw me, she stated, “Oh, you have to go to a special location for the disabled.” I was completely shocked by this, becuase, after all, a fingerprinting facility is government-run, and it got me to thinking, “Are there so few disabled people being hird by our government, that all facilities needed in order to fill out a job application are not required to be handicapped-accessible?” This is both sad and appalling to me. Going back to my van, I headed to the next disabled-friendly destination, although it was far from easily accessible. Once again, it was extremely difficult to maneuver my wheelchair through small, single-filed rows of chairs in limited space, and when I went in the back to do the fingerprinting, once again the station was quite high. Luckily, it was positioned in such a way that I was able to raise the seat of my wheelchair, so I was in a half-standing position, to reach the computer to do the prints. The tech did apologize for the awkward set-up, and I told him, “It wasn’t his fault, but thank God, I am mobile, because if not, this disabled-designated facility would still not be accessible.” “I know,” the technician replied, “I feel terrible about this,” and he assisted me to position my hand in such a way that the computer would take my print. After three attempts, the prints were readable. It was all worth it in the end, becuase I will be getting the job, and I am very excited to begin on this new journey. The process did, however, become an eye-opener for just how far society needs to improve before equality is garaunteed.

I also learned to be patient, within reason, but when your individual rights are being infringed upon, it is time to stick up for yourself, even if it means, threatening to call “Help Me, Howard.” These experiences only exemplify why I have such a strong ambition to reach a level of fame that allows me to have a voice that will, perhaps, be heard more widespread. In fact, as most of you know, I love music and dancing, and one of my dreams is to be one of the few, or perhaps the first, person in a power wheelchair, to be featured in a music video. This is also why I chose to write my life story and my book called “My Life with Robin,” because, honestly, my wheelchair was the least of my hurdles, and I was able to discover the gifts I carried within to overcome a past faced with addiction, a mentally ill mother, and many other obstacles, to become a happy, successful psychic/medium, who only wants to inspire others to rise above their own darkness by lighting the light God has placed inside of them.

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