I had goals outside of high school, I went to college for a year and dropped out before I flunked out, which was entirely my fault since I didn't seek additional options for my reading material. They set me up to read visually, giving me a CCTV and so forth, but the amount of reading you have to do in college is immense, and it was just too much. But I stubbornly decided to stick with it, but it meant I was falling behind, I just couldn't keep up that way. When I realized I was in real trouble, I went to the Dean of Students and sort of hashed some things out, she put me with another visually impaired student, and we talked, but really his vision was better than mine, in fact, so much so that he could rive under certain conditions, very limited conditions, but he could nonetheless.
I lost my federal funding from the OVR because my GPA dropped too far. I was in scrabble mode for a while, and then I just hit a point where I was like, you know what, it doesn't matter, at this point, I can't salvage things. I was on academic probation, etc. I just took a few days, stopped doing assignments and hung out at the pool. It was then that I thought well, its better to drop out than flunk out, so that's what I did. At around this time, my dad crashed his motorcycle and broke his ankle, so it was sort of a good thing that I came back when I did because he would have had a hard time doing laundry and so forth getting down the basement steps with a cast on. My parents were divorced a decade or so, and he lived there alone, apart from me.
I didn't consider this much of a setback, OK, I'd just have to go straight into work, people got jobs without a degree, they might have to take a lower level position, and work longer and harder to get somewhere in the company, but it was certainly possible. So, not to be deterred, I started on the job hunt. My OVr counselor set me up with this agency called AHedd, which helped people with disabilities get a job. They also sort of acted like a liaison between you and the management, in such cases where it was warranted, because some of the people they helped become employed had certain mental challenges. SO they sort of kept a check on things to help you keep your job, but they didn't actually do your job, which is the way it should be. I was on this for nearly 3 years, sometimes a couple of months where I didn't do any searching, but I was mostly on it. I put in a lot of applications, and had a lot of interviews. One nice thing about AHedd is your agent, counselor, case worker, I honestly forget anymore, but they could provide you transportation to your interviews, which was a good thing considering some of these places I had no idea where they were at, so trying to fire out how to get there using the buses in a day, yeah. I mean I took what I could get, if they said can you come i tomorrow for an interview, I would say yes, and worry about the logistics after I got off the phone. If it was before noon, I could book a paratransit ride there and back for the next day, which I did in some circumstances, but a lot of the time, the calls came in after lunch, so that was a no go. SO I would have to get in touch with my AHedd person and se if they could take me.
I remember one time I booked a paratransit ride. Now, when you talk to them, if you mention its for work or medical reasons, they'll sort of make you a priority, so I would say each time that it was for a job interview. I was supposed to be in at this one place at 2:00, and I was standing there and my bus never came. I called them several times, and they said oh they're on their way, etc. I called the place and let them know I'd be a bit late etc. and they were understanding, but the bus never showed up and I had to call them back and reschedule. I was fuming, and I called the manager and complained vigorously. But, I was able to get another interview the next day, this time I was able to get my AHedd agent to take me.
Every interview I had to fight to try to convince the prospective employer I could do the job in question. Here's the problem, things that included me reading, I could do, but I would need a video magnifier to do it, a portable one, like the Ruby, which is actually a good product despite where it hails from. Also, Jaws installations on work computers etc. since at that time I didn't know about NVDA and even if I did, I couldn't have used it proficiently like I could with Jaws. I found this one place I really wanted to work at. It was a retirement home, but everyone was cool there. The position was for a dishwasher, but I honestly didn't care, this was a bit on in my job hunt, and my circle of professions or positions was expanding. The agent would always ask me what areas I was interested in, and at first I'd rattle off a concise answer, but after a while, I was like, ya know, just anything at this point, I don't care. Anyway, I didn't get the job at the retirement community since it involved cleaning the floor and the grout, and I couldn't see good enough to ensure the grout was clean, I could do my best to sort of sweep the area in a systematic fashion, but I couldn't guarantee it was clean. I was kinda more disappointed at that than the other ones, because I thought that was kind of lame. It's not going to be dirty if I literally take a mop with soap and water over it. Sure, I can't literally focus on just the grout and make sure I get every bit of it spotless, but its a kitchen, a staff kitchen, the residents never went in there. I do get it though on one level, they have to be on top of that sort of thing for health reasons. Anyway, the lady was really cool about it, and wrote me a nice letter wishing me good luck on my future endeavors. I now get to the point where I actually was hired. I interviewed at KMart, for those who don't know, it is a department store, and now is a subsidiary of Sears holding company, if they're even still around, I haven't been out that way in a while. I went in for two rounds, and the second round, I could tell she had some reservations and was about to drop me, so I fought like hell and finally won her over and she hired me. Now, the thing about this is, and I don't know if this is the same everywhere, or just in my state, but they would not even start the ordering process of getting equipment until you were confirmed hired. The process from requisitioning the equipment to having it in the client's hands took about two weeks. SO every time I interviewed, I had to sort of explain this when they asked how soon I could start. I also really couldn't do any testing or really prove I could do the job because I didn't have what I needed, namely, a magnifier like the Ruby. SO it was a leap of faith for the employer, and I don't blame any one of them for not making it, I blame the system for being messed up. They could have a sort of basic selection of equipment at at the OVR office that they could allow you to borrow for an interview, etc. Well, She told me she needed me to start right away, so I was like OK, what else could I do, I had the job, I wasn't going to make a fuss about it. SO I got with my OVR counselor and explained I had a job and needed the equipment, and he started the process. My AHedd agent basically did what he was not supposed to do and helped me do my job, because I literally couldn't do it without magnification, since it was involving stocking and the like, which required reading labels, sorting stuff onto palettes, etc. luckily, I was only part time, so he could do other stuff after, he really went out on a limb for me doing that and I definitely appreciated it. But, Since I was supposed to clock in at 10 to 8, and he couldn't get there until 9, I basically had to hide and pretend to be doing stuff for an hour since I couldn't do anything else. Also, they switched me out to different positions, like the warehouse and unloading trucks. That wasn't as bad but they never kept me anywhere long enough for me to figure things out. Still, they had this big almost rail system that the truck would back up to, so the trailer would open onto this rail system, and someone on that end would put a box on it, and just shove, and, the only way I can think to describe this is like a conveyor, but not a belt. It was nothing but bearings. SO, if you put a hand on the top of it, you would just feel the edges of the bearings, and if you moved your hand, you'd move it along, spinning the bearings etc. They were like close enough to each other to not allow much of a gap, but not too close they they would bind each other up, so each bearing would spin freely, and there were a fair few of them wide. This system even made a turn into the warehouse, so literally all you had to do was put a box on the top and shove it and the bearings would carry it to the people on the other side. Then one of them would take it, check the label, which was color coded, and put it in the correct area. Then another person would sort them from that point. I was just unloading the truck and putting them in the matching area.
So basically, after doing several positions there, I sort of came to the realization I wouldn't be very effective, even with the equipment. I voiced this concern to my agent, who took it to another agent who I worked with previous, she came in and gave me this completely inane speech about how I could do anything and how I'd soon be the manager. That annoyed me to no end. I hate that kind of thing, I'm a realist, if there's a problem, I'd rather face it than pretend it doesn't exist. I was getting pressured from the store manager. I was organizing things based on what would be fastest, and using a shopping cart to load stuff in. So while there were a lot less items in the cart, I could organize them so that I could go out onto the floor and put the items on the shelf in an order that worked for me and that was quick, and I'd be making more trips back to the stock room, but I was able to get things done easier that way. The manager didn't like that though and insisted I bring a palette out each time. Which I did, but wasn't faster than my method. The guy was a jackass but I had a job so I just dealt with it, though the one day I wanted to deck him because of some remark he made. I did decide to leave though, it sucked, because I finally had a job, but I knew that even with the equipment I couldn't do that job as effectively and quickly as that manager was going to accept. The HR lady was cool about it, and she was the interviewer, and it also sucked because I liked everyone there. I was there a grand total of 6, yes count them, 6 days.
That was a big blow to me, and that was when things sort of spiraled downward. I couldn't do that, I couldn't do the cold calling or tech support stuff because I couldn't read the script with my screen reader while I talked on the phone, and I never developed a good reading speed with braille, 35wpm is not enough to be doing that kind of work. I know there are some people out there who do that type of work, but I don't know how, because I can't split my concentration off to two threads like that. I can if its people and separate conversations, I can follow a few at once with no issue, but the moment a screen reader enters into it, I need most of it for that. and then dealing with them on the phone plus doing the script reading, yeah just didn't work out. So everywhere I went, it seemed like I was trapped between the sighted world, and the blind world. I couldn't read print or braille fast enough to be useful at a job, and screen readers couldn't be used alongside other people, like a customer I needed to talk to. Before this point, every job I didn't get was just another step in the process, I didn't really think much of it. I knew it would be problematic getting hired, but I was optimistic, driven, ambitious. That all changed though, and each failure after that was another blow, and it just made me completely uninspired and unmotivated. I tapered off to doing job stuff like 3 days a week, then one day, then stopped putting in applications, focusing on trying to get a work from home position. Most looked like scams, and my dad was like how can it be a scam, etc. and just try it, so I did, and I kept getting these texts, and I showed him the messages and the bill when it came, they made my phone bill like $20 higher because they texted me nothing but spam so many times. I had to call and get their number blocked from my phone company. I tapered off and just quit looking.
I was looking for a way out because my dad's gf, who he bought a house with, well, we didn't have the best of relations at the time, she was, and is a good person, but with... issues that I won't go into. We get along a lot better now I'm not living there though. My buddy moved up to the city with his dad, and they were like 10 minutes away so I could have my dad drop me off in the morning or something. Where I was living, the closest bus stop was 4.9 miles away, so that wasn't an option, though I did take a cab there a few times, before the days of Uber, etc. Well, his dad had a few health issues, and passed away. My buddy had to scramble to get into another apartment since he couldn't afford to keep up that big two bedroom on his own, so luckily, they had an open efficiency in that same building which he moved into. A year later, we moved in together, seeing how there was a two bedroom that opened up. He got the notion to take off down south, which he did after a year. I needed a room mate or I would have to leave as well, so my brother was looking to move out, so we did that for a while. That was 4 years, and was filled with its ups and downs, most of the downs being due to his girlfriends, anyway, that's too much to get into now and I'm sure people clicked off this thing long ago, so I'll try to wrap up.
I left there in 2016 because I lost it on his gf, who basically treated him like shit. I couldn't afford to get a place so I was looking at anything. So here I am now, its me, my mom, and my grandma living in the same house lol. And well, we kind of have to be here now, because we don't feel it would be safe for my grandma to live here by herself because she's got some form of alzheimer's or something similar. We don't know exactly what, and she usually scores pretty well on memory tests, but yeah, she's not fine. I think she might burn the place down if left to her own devices. So after all that, I just can't really get optimistic about much of anything. Though I'm not giving up on getting my own place. I would prefer to live completely alone, so somehow, I will try to make that happen.
One of the best gifts on this earth is the unconditional love of an animal
It is pure, free of judgement, and raises me to the utter height of glory.