Monday, February 19, 2007

A Day at Work

I interviewed Chris and his mom, Sheila, (real names used with permission) about Chris's job. Chris is a mail clerk for Rotary International. He has had this job since 1993. He works 40 hours a week, has full healthcare benefits, and paid vacation time.

Chris describes a typical workday:

7:00 a.m. - Chris gets up, has breakfast, and puts on a white shirt and tie.
7:45 a.m. - Chris walks to the bus stop, takes bus #204 for a 15 minute ride, and then walks a few blocks to work.
8:30 a.m. - Chris signs in.
8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. - Chris works in the mail center, opening mail, sorting incoming mail and interoffice mail by department, sorting the outgoing mail by cost center, and using the mail machine to seal and stamp mail.
9:30 a.m. - First mail run of the day. Pushing his mail cart, Chris takes the freight elevator to deliver mail to the departments on the 18th, 17th, 16th, 15th, and 3rd floors. After the mail run he returns to the mail center for more sorting work.
11:00 a.m. - Second mail run of the day.
12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.- Chris takes his lunch break in the cafeteria.
12:30 p.m. - Back to work in the mail center.
1:30 p.m. - Third mail run of the day.
3:00 p.m. - Fourth mail run of the day.
4:00 p.m. - Last mail run of the day.
5:00 p.m. - Chris heads home on the bus.

Chris is very dedicated to his work. He is always on time and is rarely absent. His professionalism is appreciated by Rotary International. Chris has an excellent memory for names and knows almost everyone in the company. He loves his job and loves the people he works with.

Payday is every other Friday. Chris deposits most of his paycheck into his bank account, taking out a small amount for his wallet. He uses his money to buy his lunch and soda at work, take his parents out to dinner occasionally, and pay for his YMCA membership.

Chris got to where he is today with hard work on his part and a team effort with his parents, his school and his community. He got his first job at 13 years old, picking up the mail from his church, then crossing two streets and delivering the mail to the post office. Chris’s school and his mother worked together to set up many job training opportunities for him. Over the years, he worked one to three hours a day as a mail clerk at a nursing home, in food service at a school, at his local university, and in other jobs in his community. In addition to learning job skills, Chris learned how to cross streets, take public transportation, and he explored his likes and dislikes.

Since Chris had always enjoyed delivering mail, Sheila thought working at Rotary International as mail clerk might be a good match for him. In addition, Rotary was at a location that Chris could get to independently. In April of his last year of school, Chris began training to work for Rotary. His job coach from his school helped to develop the job, break it down into smaller pieces, and teach him the whole process. The job coach provided Chris with full support initially and gradually withdrew his support as Chris became more comfortable with the job. In June of 1993, Chris finished high school and started working full time for Rotary International. Coming up on his 14th anniversary, Chris is a valued member of his company.

“I’m proud of myself. I love my job,” Chris says with a smile.

Top photo from Steve Liss, other photos from Sheila


Anonymous said...

And what a smile it is! Love the pics.

Terrific reporting and terrific job for Chris. How wonderful. It is so important for all of us to feel that we matter and that we make a difference and that we can contribute!

:) Lee P.

Anonymous said...

"Chris has an excellent memory for names and knows almost everyone in the company."

(cheerfully:) Here we go! Chris is most likely not faceblind. He recognises the people whom he sees. On the other hand, I struggle to learn how to identify people by secondary (nonfacial) features. I've been at the same place of employment for a year and only just
recently realised that we have two male custodians.

Maybe Chris is quicker at tying shoelaces than I am, too.

There are things that are easy for Chris and difficult for me, and vice-versa.

Kind of blows the "low/high functioning" categories out of the water.

seahorse said...

The joy of reading this is in its simplicity. It's so good to read about someone going about their work and everyday life written from an everyday perspective, rather than the received media perspective on disabled people which tends to involve the overuse of patronising words such as 'plucky', 'brave' etc. No doubt Chris would hate that. He clearly enjoys his job, his workplace, his routine. These are all things of great value in anyone's life.

Kathy Podgers said...

Nice post! I enjoyed reading this story. Seems like folks of all abilities want a "coach" as todays news includes upward boung managers want their companies to provice a personal coach instead of company training.

Nicely writen, and from the ability point of view. I have been advocating for this approach myself. Congratulations to Chris for sharing, and inspiring others.

imfunnytoo said...

It's great to see the everyday nt way that Chris works and the accessible way the article was written.