Welcome to another article here on Vocal. I’m Jared Rimer, and I’ve done quite a bit of writing on this site. Today, I want to talk about the job market, especially when it comes to people with visual impairments.
Some site roles are, as mine was, primarily observational in nature. This means that you will spend very little time doing actual physical work of any kind, and an awful lot of time standing around watching other people work. Yes, I was that kind of site engineer. I supervised other people doing the 'hard graft.' I know that, in general, that does not make me the most popular person on site. I came to terms with that a long time ago. I made up for this lack of popularity with my sparkling wit and personality (definitely a joke, I made up for it mostly by being the clumsy goofball).
I have been working in my job for a mere 9 months (10 by the time I leave). I tried really hard to stay for at least a year but I just couldn't do it.
Before you all scoff and tell me I'm ridiculous - 'what are you on about - dirt! Stupid woman!' - let me tell you one thing. Apparently, not everyone walks onto an earthworks project or a construction site expecting them to be dirty. I had one graduate in particular who actually expressed it as 'it's so dirty' about the site that we were both on. I will admit, my eye roll at this observation was hard enough to give me a headache. Admittedly, because it was a remedial project and an old landfill as well as an earthworks site, that site was more probably more dirty than some. Sites are not hospital wards or microbiology laboratories. Dirt is, let's be honest, very much the nature of the beast.
Back when I was in college, one of the first classes I took was with a New Jersey history professor. When we had our first class, he told us about how he chose a doctorate in New Jersey history, and how his parents "basically expected him to live in their basement forever."
At the age of 18, I graduated high school months earlier than my class, so I had free time to work and do other things with my life I had been severely ready to enjoy. One of the things I had never tried, led me to work in an elderly care facility, unfortunately as a laundry attendant. My shifts consisted of 4 AM -12 PM and/ or 11 AM - 6 PM, five days a week, and in that time I learned a lot about what growing old is all about.
I'd had an idea of being a writer for several years and I'd been doing it to a degree. I'd published blog posts and I'd written short stories. I'd published books of said short stories and sold almost enough copies to buy a pint of Guinness with the slim royalties, but it wasn't writing for a living. It was all done myself and badly promoted. How did people manage it? I wondered.
I'm clumsy. I'm not clownishly clumsy to the point no one trusts me to carry things. I'm not cute clumsy either. I'm big, blundering, blunt instrument clumsy. I have always blamed it on being tall, it often feels like my brain doesn't really know what my feet are doing. So, I have a tendency to blunder into things, and this blundering is both metaphorical and literal. I feel, however, I cannot be alone in this. There must be others who venture on site who are the same way inclined.
Here's a little secret: as a graduate engineer, I hated site work. I had to be pushed and poked and prodded until I left the office. I resisted all attempts to send me to site. I preferred the office ivory tower, sitting behind a desk writing reports and sending emails. I did not grab life on site with both hands. I must have been an absolute nightmare for my seniors to manage. Looking back, I know the reasons why I was the way I was, and I can understand anyone else entering the industry who feels the same way as I did. I want to tell them—it's OK. Nobody expects you to be perfect and nobody expects you to know everything and nobody expects you to exude confidence from every pore from the second you are sent on site. Confidence, or the ability to fake being confident, comes naturally to some people and less so to others. It does not come naturally to me, and if you're in the same boat as I am, then you're not alone. Never let this industry of big characters and machismo make you think everyone knows exactly what they're doing all of the time. They don't. Some of the time, just like you will be, they're winging it.
First off, I would like to say that I realise everyone's experiences, morals, backgrounds, and lifestyles are going to affect what they are looking for in a work from home opportunity, the goal of this is not to criticise, but to encourage thinking.
It’s surreal when you first walk through the hospital doors in a nurse’s uniform. Even as a student, the corridor passes by almost slowly as you take in the new responsibility you are about to undertake. I think I knew even back then that it would change me in ways I could never comprehend. Moreso because the first placement I ever had was on a ward for the elderly… rehabilitation and palliative.
What are we? We’re storytellers. Okay, okay, I get it, please don’t groan! Just hear me out for a second.