Naomi Fryers broke up with her disability employment service provider after they put her in a compromising position.
Editor’s note: This is the first entry in The Good Men Project‘s new Ethics Fail feature, in which we chronicle ethical lapses and failures in business, sports, relationships, parenting, and other areas of life and present them with an appropriate mix of humor, humility, and a subtle—or sometimes not so subtle—corrective.
You came into my life like a light of hope on the horizon when I was vulnerable. Following the birth of my first son, I had struggled with post-natal depression and anxiety. I also needed work. When I first heard of your services, they sounded too good to be true. You were there to help supplement my income while I found my footing in new employment. That sounded like a sure-fire recipe for success. Well, from what I’ve discovered over the past 12 months—if things seem to be “too good to be true” they usually are. And wow, did that prove true here. You came at an expense—both financial and emotional—and you were bloody inconvenient in terms of time.
I was optimistic at first, as you “negotiated” with employers on my behalf—something I thought would be better left to the professionals but was anything but. Instead of protecting my interests, you proclaimed details of my mental illness to every employer, because apparently in the six billion page document I signed I had consented to this. The word “psychosis” must have elevated my applications to the top of the pile, gleaming off the page like a Mack truck’s headlights making each and every employer shit their pants. Is it a wonder that after weeks of trying I had virtually no call-backs? I told you I wanted to write for a living and you wore me down, instructing me to “start menial” and lower my expectations.
Finally a call came, for an administrative position in a factory. Well, that’s something, I thought, and it sure was “something.” I fumbled my way through an interview with an extremely inappropriate employer who asked me a series of equally inappropriate questions. Upon raising these concerns with you, the response was that the employer needed up-skilling in conducting interviews and that I shouldn’t worry. Up-skilling? Shouldn’t worry? I had been forced under duress to disclose to a stranger that I was the mother of a baby, 30 years old, a heavy smoker, and had no other employment prospects. Said, unsuitable job was not-so-surprisingly vacant, and you instructed me to take it.
Out of sheer desperation, I did. Then you acted surprised when I was promptly sacked after a fortnight (because I began my trial as a casual) for taking carers’ leave to tend to my sick baby.
Following this experience (combined with the fact that I had no money for petrol to attend your fruitless thrice weekly sessions) I decided it best that we part ways. Having formed a bond over this period (it must have been your maniacal grip of tyranny over me and my life) I thought I’d let you down slowly. But oh, were you only too glad to see the back of little old “unreliable” me. You watched me walk out the door shockingly clutching in my (now diluted) mind, your referral for apple picking in the country.
Well, dear Disability Service Provider, now that I’m free from your clutches I have a few items of which to inform you. The first being, that I never did take up your completely blood inappropriate apple picking suggestion. (No offense to the apple pickers—you do a great job—but I’ve had physical complaints as well as mental!). I decided to wing it and do the leg work by myself. I am now gainfully employed and have three contracts for freelance writing work which I undertake part-time. I used the skills, the ones you never bothered to investigate. I made it without you. I am gleefully happy, and I undertake tasks from home while my baby is asleep, without missing deadlines. My bosses have never asked me my age or whether or not I am a smoker.
Now, that you’re clear on where I am today; here is some sweet advice for you so called professionals (free advice!- no catches!):
Firstly, if you set people up to fail, they undoubtedly will.
Secondly, you should not treat people with disabilities as though they are second-rate citizens because they’ve had a bad stroke of luck. We are just as capable as you are (if not more competent in terms of diversity awareness).
Thirdly, every time you tell someone to “start menial,” you are inhibiting their abilities (not to mention breaking their spirit).
And finally, now that I’m a freelance journalist and writer (quite capable of writing an exposé on your crappy service), let me promise you this. At any and every opportunity I am given from this day on, I will undermine your flawed, failure of a system. And when the disability revolution comes in Australia, believe you me, you’ll be first against the wall.
Freelance Writer and Journalist
Originally published on independentaustralia.net.