First Day/Workplace Accommodations

So I started my new job today and I can already tell this is going to be so much of a better fit for me. In addition to being closer to home and thus closer to friends and family, my immediate supervisor is much more understanding of my unique challenges as an individual on the autism spectrum and thus much more willing to provide the necessary accommodations for me to be able to perform at my best.

The most notable thing he did was to put me in a very secluded office toward the back of the building. This will allow me the limited-distraction environment I need in order to be able to excel at my job. At my old job I had an office right in the main hallway and that was a linked to the conference room. Yep; one door went to the hall and the other to the conference room. As such, I had countless people cut through my office to get to the conference room as opposed to going through the lobby. In this new setting, hardly anyone will be able to barge in unannounced or unwelcome. As it will be out of the way, only if someone really needs to consult with me will be inclined to go out of their way to come visit with me in my office. As my job involves a lot of highly technical information and some intense mathematical calculations, the limited distraction environment is a must for me.

I really struggled in the beginning when I started doing drafting, not going to lie. My old company only provided me limited training and the rest I’m largely self-taught. When asked if adequate hands-on training would be provided for the new software I’ll be using, they said they’d absolutely be willing to provide that training. I’m not one who can learn by sitting in a classroom and listening to a lecture. I have to get my hands dirty. There’s a disconnect between written/spoken word and doing for me.  I require a little bit of patience but I usually get something after a few repetitions of doing it myself (the first couple with a guide).

Of course, having a secluded office will also mean I can have a resistance band and a pair of dumbbells for me to do some light exercise throughout the day to get the blood flowing again. This is essential for me to remain focused and perform optimally.

As a side note, my new company has absolutely no problem with tattoos or piercings so that is not a worry for me. I know some companies are royal sticks in the mud about it but not this one. Glad to know there are a lot more forward-thinking companies out there who don’t judge one’s talent or ability by how he/she chooses to decorate his/her body. As I have more new ink planned in the near future (and maybe a new piercing or two – trying to decide if I have the nerve to get an industrial/bar on one or both sides), I can rest easy knowing whatever art I add to me will not be a cause for dismissal or a modified dress code.

Aside from working on a cold, I’d say it was a good first day at my new job. Once I adapt to the new routine (worst of which is getting up an hour earlier – my hours are 7-4 as opposed to 8-5). I’ll just have to adjust my sleep schedule to match.

Anyway, things are looking up for sure. Here’s hoping I settle in soon and that things will be much better for me moving forward.


More Work BS

If it is one thing I will say, having the office right next door to the conference room has its advantages. I hear EVERYTHING. Whatever schemes the bosses are up to make their way to my hyper-sensitive ears and I get the “inside scoop” as it were on a lot of the shady bullshit they’re pulling, and what I overheard yesterday made me physically sick and it serves as a reminder that it’s not what you know it’s who you know.

I am the 2nd LEAST paid person in this office despite having by far the most education. The only person paid less than me is the HR lady who is honestly way underpaid. The person right above me is our so-called “inventory manager” and he makes the equivalent of $1/hr more than me based on 40 hours (note: he’s hourly whereas I’m salary; he gets overtime, I do not so the discrepancy is even bigger)  but he has less education and less time in the company than I do, so it’s already unfair to me.

What’s even more unfair is the discussion I overheard yesterday (though luckily I will be long gone before this even comes to fruition). The powers that be were discussing who will be replacing our branch manager when he retires as he’s nearing retirement. Well, having the most crane knowledge of the bottom feeders as well as the longest time served, I would be the logical choice for that position. Did my name ever come up in the discussion? No. Whose did? Young, uneducated “inventory manager’s.” Why? I’m not a suck up and I will stand up to the powers that be and tell them they’re full of shit when they are. Inventory manager? Hah, he sucks up and kisses ass. He’s got shit all over his nose. He’s their little bitch and always quick to tattle when someone says they aren’t happy here or are considering moving on to other employment. To make matters worse, he doesn’t know the first fucking thing about cranes, how they work, etc. – all he knows are individual pieces of cranes (not necessarily what they’re used for).

Of course, HR lady and I talked about this and she agrees with me: it’s because inventory manager is a kiss-up. Obviously he’s power hungry too as he chose to leave behind a wife and young kid (now divorced and to my knowledge he let his now ex-wife have full custody) to pursue power within this company. Just goes to show what his priorities are. I hate working for our current branch manager bad enough, this guy who is actually much younger and stupider than me would be a nightmare to work for.

Again, luckily nothing here will come to fruition until I’m long gone but it just goes to show that kissing up is what gets you moved up; not job performance, not knowledge or anything like that. I also suspect there was some disability discrimination going on when they passed over me (let’s face it: we autists always get the short end of the stick in this arena). Though I would not have accepted the position if offered, for them to gloss over me is a slap in my face and I did find it very hurtful.

Anyway, just more corporate assfuckery I guess. I don’t see how anyone makes an entire life of it. It’s so soul-draining. I will not miss it when I leave, even though I will likely take a substantial pay cut when I do. Alas, money ain’t everything.

A Spiritual Moment at Octoberfest

I promised you when I did my SLS post this post was coming up; well here you go.

As I was back in Abilene last weekend (I still go back every now and then – pretty much all my friends and family live there and it’s not too far from Dallas) I of course dropped into my favorite local hangout there (Vagabond Pizza – if you’re ever in Abilene you have got to check that place out!) where I met this totally awesome couple. We shot the shit for awhile and mentioned we were both heading over to a local brewery afterward (a new place called Sockdolager – again if you’re in Abilene check them out) for Octoberfest.

While at Vagabond they both asked me what exactly it was that I did and I shared a bit about my work with them, which was interesting to say the least, but what happened next was truly amazing. The lady (who I’ll call K) noticed my semicolon tattoo and asked me about it. Not very often is it people ask me about any of my tattoos, much less the one that got me into tattoo culture to begin with, so I asked her how long she had and how long I had to tell her my story.

As she didn’t have long, I told her the condensed version of my story and how close I came to committing suicide and how if I wouldn’t have had this opportunity presented to me when I did, I probably wouldn’t be alive today, because nobody would give me the time of day to show what I could do despite my disability. Getting my foot in the door at my current company (even if it was because I had connections) is what really set me on the road to recovery, even if I didn’t realize it at the outset. I then went on to tell her about my eventual goal.

As I told my story K started tearing up and she hugged me and said “I needed to hear this today.” I kind of took it with a grain of salt at the outset but I knew I would follow them to  Octoberfest so I would get to see them again in a bit and she could tell me more.

Not surprisingly, shortly thereafter I caught up with them at Octoberfest and we picked up right where we left off. She and her husband were there as expected and we spent much of the night talking with each other as they introduced me to some of their friends and we wound up telling each other more about ourselves. As it turns out K is a financial advisor and she mentioned that she thought she could help me achieve my dreams sooner rather than later – well alright then, finally someone who actually does believe in me.

As the night wore on so did we (getting drunker by the minute), It was a beautiful night indeed – absolutely perfect ambient temperature with a gentle, peaceful rain. As the alcohol started taking hold K started divulging some of her own deep insecurities, many of which I related to straight away. We started talking about those insecurities, wound up on the topic of music (I was wearing my TFF and Hall & Oates souvenir shirt so we made our way onto the topic). She mentioned she loved the song “Mad World” and in her drunkenness asked me to sing it to her.

Of course, that was kind of on the spot and I’m self-conscious about my own singing voice to begin with (even though everyone reassures me it’s just fine) but after a second of thought I came to the conclusion “what the hell?” (I was pretty well intoxicated myself so my inhibitions were greatly reduced by this point – I might not have agreed to otherwise). We took each other’s hands, I gently cleared my throat and started making my way through the lyrics of the song. As I made my way through the song, at times she joined with me in a harmony almost, especially in the chorus parts.

As I finished the song she asked me, to the tune of the song, to keep singing to her. I wound up singing the entire song start to finish a 2nd time at her insistence. By that point, I didn’t really care and I gladly obliged. The reason? “Mad World” is one of those songs that, if you love it, it’s because you feel it deep into your core. It’s my favorite TFF song (and my overall favorite song) for that very reason. As I sang the song to her that night, I could tell how deeply she felt those lyrics. Wow, maybe I’m not the only one after all.

I left that night feeling as I had touched the hearts of two amazing people, just as they had touched mine. I’m not one for belief in god or angels, but it seems as though every now and then I come across someone who is on the same playing field as me – those who have been through the ringer, been through bad times and although in a better place, might not be completely satisfied with life. I felt like I had connected with both of these people on a deeper level than just meeting each other. I felt like I connected to them on the same level of conscience. Those are the few I have the deepest connections with. Pantheism asserts God is in all of us and we are all a part of a greater consciousness, and this greater consciousness is God. Experiences like this gradually shift me away from pure atheism and maybe more toward Pantheism. These were people I’d just met a few short hours ago, but it was as though I’d known them my whole life.

When I get down on myself and think there’s no way out of a seemingly dire situation, something like this almost always happens. Somehow K made it through seemingly dark times (she told me bits and pieces of it, but I’m sure there’s so much more to the story) and it reminded me that I can too. After all, if she hadn’t, she’d have never resonated with the lyrics of “Mad World” the way she seemed to.

I’m sure K and her husband and myself will cross paths again sometime. I really hope we do. They are amazing people, and meeting them just reminded me that you never know whose lives you might touch by just being there. If they’re reading this, I hope they realize they touched my heart as much as I seem to have touched theirs, and it’s bits like that which keep me going, even through the hard times.

I’ll get to where I want to be. So will K. Her husband seems to already be there (good for him). There is a light at the end of the tunnel, so long as we continue to push through that tunnel and don’t get off the train.

May peace be with you all this day, in the name of whatever deity you personally worship. Amen.

Players Only Love You When They’re Playing

OK, I know that song is about something totally different than what I’m about to post, but I think that one particular lyric taken out of context and left open ended is very applicable to the way I’ve been treated the past two years. The boss who puts on a charade of a loving, caring, crucifix-wearing Catholic but is a real player and snake underneath fits that song lyric perfectly.

With as much shit has come to light recently with the division I work in, I can’t help but have flashbacks to The Flintstones movie (if you’ve never seen it you should – the critics hated it but it is a really good movie). I feel like Fred Flintstone and my boss is Cliff Vandercave and that I’ve been nothing but played the past couple of years.

Going to the part of the movie where things really start heating up, we go to this scene with CV and the secretary Sharon Stone (note, all excerpts might be slightly paraphrased because I don’t recall the exact lines, but they go something like this):

SS: Well the test results are in.
CV: And our unsuspecting dupe is?
SS: Actually the person who scored the highest was Fred Flinstone (note: after Barney switched tests with Fred as repayment for his kind deed at the beginning of the film).
CV: That big ape?
SS: No, the big ape got a 65.
CV: Flintsone? He must have cheated. This can’t be right! He’s dense, he’s witless…

As Miss Stone points out, a dense, witless candidate was the perfect choice for their master plan to swindle Slate and Co. out of their massive fortunes, regardless of the circumstances of him being at the top of the list. However, as the movie progresses, the two realize that Fred is much smarter than they initially thought and is starting to come onto their master plan. As such, they tweak their game a bit and are once again able to get Fred to comply with their shady and even illegal activities. Of course, eventually all this comes to light and luckily Fred has a way to prove his innocence within all of this (note: Miss Stone switched allegiances at the end of the film after learning Cliff was going to scam her too).

I write this because I just have this sick feeling I was initially selected for my position back in August 2015 because my boss (who was a relatively new hire at the company) saw me as dense, witless and naive because of the fact that I’m autistic (let’s face it – that’s what the mainstream media loves to portray us as). People like Cliff Vandercave and my boss love to prey upon people with various disabilities because they see us as easy targets and when the shit finally hits the fan they plant us as their fall people thinking we are weak and we won’t stand up against them.

Well, my boss preyed upon the wrong person for sure. One of these days he will be exposed for the shady (and maybe even illegal!!!) practices he has his little minions do for him, and when he is I won’t take the fall for it. I just refuse. I’m much smarter than that. Cutting back to the movie for a second:

CV: Flintsone! I heard you were in the file room earlier. Find anything interesting?
FF: Yeah, I’m on to your little scam! Installing faulty equipment, firing everyone and keeping the fortune for yourself. I’m going to Mr. Slate.
CV: Good! Coming forward might buy you a little leniency.
FF: The equipment was YOUR idea!
CV: True, but I graciously decided to give you all the credit since it was your name on the requisition forms.
FF: I’m innocent!
CV: Oh boo-hoo-hoo! Miss Stone, call security. Tell them we’ve uncovered an embezzler.
FF: Miss Stone, you’ll back me up on this, right?
SS: You better run while you still can.
FF: You’ll never get away with this!
CV: I already have.

Of course, it all comes out in the end thanks to a piece of office equipment known as the Dictabird and Fred is cleared of any wrongdoing but still. This is exactly the situation I feel like I’m in and I can only hope that when all the bullshit surfaces (and it will, the truth will make its way out into the open eventually!) I’ve documented the goings on well enough that I can stay out of trouble.

Whatever you corporate slaves do, keep record of everything. Forward anything that might incriminate you for illegal or shady activity to your personal email for future reference. Document it all. It might just keep you out of jail sometime. This goes for everyone but especially individuals who the corporate sharks see as easy prey.

Tread with caution and be careful who you work for.

Horrible, Horrible Week…

To say my week was absolutely terrible would be an absolute understatement. It started off bad, got worse then turned utterly miserable.

Work has been absolutely miserable for several weeks lately but it’s worse than ever. I just keep getting shit piled up on top of what I have, and to add insult to injury on Wednesday my total tyrant of a boss fired the operations manager (he claims he “resigned” but it was a forced resignation so what’s the fucking difference?) and then today my only emotional support system in this fucking company resigned effective St. Patrick’s Day (for totally understandable reasons and I don’t fault her at all, but still it sucks).

My job has long been a source of stress for me, for I never really much liked it anyway and I honestly get the feeling my tyrant of a supervisor is using me in a way. I think he sees me as easily manipulated and his personal pawn. Of course, he is a textbook psychopath (smooth talking, charming, lies cooly and easily) and I know not to get too close to him lest I get fucked over but the use and abuse of not only me but the other employees I am in immediate contact with is becoming more and more pervasive and I don’t know how much longer I’m going to last either. I was really hoping to hold on a couple of more years so that my bankruptcy will fall off my record and I can look into getting loans to launch Leaf and Barrel (my concept business I outlined here) but I no longer I think I can make it that long, which sucks because despite this one toxic person the company I work for is a great company with fantastic benefits.

Honestly, the more I work for this man the more I think his kind sees people like me as easy prey. Not surprising, people like him often see those of us on the autism spectrum and/or with other disabilities as easy prey because they know we can’t just go out and get new jobs on a whim. They know without our jobs we’re practically dead meat. He knows he can get me to do anything he wants. He pretends to care about me and have a “soft spot” for me but I see right through his charade and there will come a point soon where I call him out on it. If it costs me my job so be it, he needs to be exposed for the snake he is.

Alas, that brings me to another tangent I wish to take this on: my supervisor made me an offer at the end of 2016 that almost sounded too good to be true and now I’m convinced it really is. My boss literally offered to DOUBLE my wages, but on one condition: I transfer to his local office. See, for whatever reason when my company hired this man to be the director of crawler crane operations they didn’t make him move to a branch location. Oh no, they let him stay in his hometown just outside of Detroit and practically work from home! Must be nice to have that kind of privilege eh? I guess he’s just such a god in this industry he’s allowed whatever demand he wants. So yeah, double my pay, fly me home every other month to visit my family (as if the company would be OK with that) but on the condition I move 1,300+ miles away from my family. Oh, and with the way things are going he’d probably fire me within a year (when he no longer needs me to be his pawn and he has no more use for me) at which point I’d REALLY be fucked. Yeah, in light of recent events I’m glad I turned his offer down.

It has never been more clear that I need an out, but there is a possibility I might have one come up soon should the stars align properly for me. The manager of the CAD/engineering department (a position at the corporate office in Houston) is retiring at the end of the month. I hope they accept internal applications for the position because if they do I am so applying for the job. I see no downside to taking such a position: major pay bump, relocation to a city that I’d probably fit me better and no longer answering to my current supervisor? Yeah, that would at least make things tolerable in the meantime until I am able to launch L&B (which let’s face it, Houston would be a more prime location for that concept than podunk Abilene).

Anyway, all I know is I am so ready for some ink therapy. As my 30th birthday is two weeks from tomorrow, it will be happening soon. Stay tuned, you’ll be among the first to see my new ink!

I’m Scared, You’re Scared, We’re All Scared…

So about 14 hours from now, Donald John Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. If I was saying that I wasn’t scared I’d be lying out of my teeth. I’m absolutely petrified.

Please note I did not support Hillary Clinton either. I have no use for her either quite frankly. I voted for the Libertarian candidate, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. The bottom line is we had no good choices this cycle, but I will say Hillary scared me somewhat less. Donald (and the rest of the GOP) I find absolutely terrifying.

I’m scared as a person with a disability. We’ve seen what “The Donald” thinks about people with disabilities. We’ve all seen that video with him mocking that one disabled reporter. I wonder what he would think of me? Would he mock my involuntary hand flapping? My allergy-induced postnasal drip near constant throat clearing? What?

I’m scared as a bisexual person. I am currently single but if I find the right person to fall in love with it could be with either sex. Will same-sex marriage still be legal if/when that happens or will we be back to the subjugation of same-sex couples? I also fear that, according to VP-Elect Mike Pence’s position, we will have taxpayer funding of ex-gay “therapy” as he instituted in his home state. Truly scary.

I’m scared as an atheist. As the GOP takes control will we return to de-facto theocracy? Will the state law in Texas (and other states) officially banning atheists from holding public office be reinstated? I also fear for non-Christians of a variety of persuasion (especially Muslims – anyone with half a brain knows most of them are peaceful and moral people).

I’m male, but I fear for my female friends. Will their right to make decisions regarding their own body with the professional advice of a medical doctor  (including whether or not to terminate a pregnancy) still be intact or will ultra-conservative Trump appointees overturn Roe v. Wade?

I fear for my friends who stand to lose their health insurance. I wasn’t a supporter of the ACA as it seems to me to be an overreach to mandate people purchase health insurance but for fuck’s sake please have a replacement plan in place before you repeal it.

I fear for my friends who are of racial minorities and have already been experiencing violence at the hands of the white supremacists who have been reinvigorated by the election of The Donald.

I fear for those who are terminally ill and have chosen to die with dignity. Will the GOP seek a federal ban on physician assisted suicide?

I’m scared. You should be scared. We should all be scared. You’d be crazy not to be scared. And I don’t know as though I even want to continue. Maybe I should ignore my semicolon and “check out” before this shitstorm even begins.

I’ve done my best, but not even these words can express the level of fear I have right now. And I think I’m justified in my fears.

My Resignation Letter to My Current Company and Only Post-Election Remarks

As I’ve said here, I never really much like to get political on my blog. That’s not the purpose and that’s not the theme, but I do have some closing remarks regarding the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency.

I voted for Gary Johnson, as I said I would. I did not believe in either major party candidate and I actually believe in the Libertarian Party platform of social tolerance, fiscal responsibility and “live and let live.” That said, if you had held a gun to my head and forced me to pick one or the other, I would have picked Hillary. The reasons for this are discussed in my resignation letter below.

I truly believe that Donald Trump is a dangerous man and this has already proven to be the case with the many incidents of xenophobia, homophobia and racism. He’s also dangerous to people of my ilk.

As such, I have decided to take a leap of faith and drop everything and move. No, I don’t have shelter, a job or anything of the sort secured yet. I am sort of diving off the deep end here, but I am hoping with big risk comes big reward.

With that said, I hope you read my resignation letter below and realize what’s at stake for those of us who do not fit the neurotypical, cisgender, heterosexual mold. This is not to shame anyone for how they voted, but just to make the gravity of the situation real and relevant. I’m not looking for sympathy either. I’m just sharing why I’m so scared.

To all addressees:

After hours of careful consideration, it is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be separating from *** at the end of the year. My last day with the company will be Friday, December 30th, 2016.

This is a very difficult decision that I did not arrive at lightly nor do I have anything against any of you nor the company. This decision was reached based purely out of fear for my own personal future. With the surprise election of Donald Trump to the presidency, I fear that I have much to lose if I continue to reside in a deep red state such as Texas. For starters, we all became aware of what DJT thinks of people with disabilities when he mocked the one reporter. I fear that if given the chance he will work with his completely GOP dominated congress to repeal the Americans with Disabilities Act and of course Texas will not protect people with disabilities without a federal mandate. I also fear for my future as a member of the LGBT community. As the Trump/Pence administration has promised to reverse protections for people like me and appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, there is a high probability that I will never have the opportunity to marry who I love should I continue to live here. For these reasons, I have made the decision to relocate to a much more liberal, open minded state where my rights as a LGBT man with a disability (specifically autism spectrum disorder) will be protected regardless of what decisions are made at the federal level.

As for exactly where I will go? I have yet to make that determination. I am confident that I will arrive at a decision in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I will provide whatever support necessary to anyone in preparation for my departure. I will continue to be available for CAD drawings as they are needed. I will transfer ownership of the Logistics log on Google Drive to M** so that can continue to be used for those who need it. Should the powers that be choose to replace me instead of allowing my position to go defunct, I am willing to help train a replacement if a suitable candidate is found during this transition period.

In closing, I wish to extend a vote of thanks to everyone in this company. When I came on board I was down on my luck and dare I say even on the brink of suicide. I probably would not be alive today if I was not given this opportunity. You all have been a huge blessing to me during the past 15 months and I will be forever indebted to all of you. I would especially like to thank B**** W***********  for giving me the chance to show what I am capable of. Though my tenure with this company was short, I have gained a whole new set of professional and life skills that will serve me for years to come. Should *** or one of its sister companies eventually expand into the geographic area that I relocate to, I would gladly return to the company in the future.

I wish all of you the best as the company moves forward.

Warm regards,
Lynn Blair, Draftsman, Abilene Branch