Physical Limitaions in the Workplace; The Truth about Quality of Service.
In a Hurry
It had been a busier week than normal. In spite of buzzing office activity, and an errand list a mile long, a 24 hour bug only delayed me even more. Mother's Day weekend was fast approaching and I wasn't sure I was going to get everything done. By Friday afternoon I was in near panic.
Mother's Day weekend was always a busy one. It began with Decoration Day In our little neighbourhood. Decorating gravesites of family long gone, honoring them with the beauty of flowers. Friday evening, as I swiftly finished the floral arrangements for nine graves, I mentally mapped out my upcoming Saturday. It would begin with us hauling the decorations to the cemetery, placing them with unrushed honor, then I'd load up my car and head home, 350 miles away to spend the rest of the weekend with my Mom and family there. Taking off my potting gloves, I let out a sigh. I hadn't accomplished everything I had set out to do this week (like that haircut I was way overdue for and a pedicure my toes screamed in need of) but, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I was going to make it. The vital things were going to get done.
Saturday morning I woke with a mission in mind. Get to the point in the day when I am in my momma's presence. Deciding to get the showering and dressing out of the way before transporting the arrangements to the cemetery seemed to be a time saving decision, so it became my plan of action. By the time we returned and I began loading my car with gifts and luggage, one glimpse in the mirror as I passed confirmed this was a bad idea. Although the spring morning was filled with breezy sunshine, my hair had not tolerated my perspiration and the Tennessee humidity well. As I made an attempt to repair my strands my only thought was "My momma's not seen this child in weeks and she's got to see this walk through the door." Another sigh.
By the time I was settled into my six hour drive, my agitation increased with each mile. It finally dawned on me what the problem was; my hair. As I clicked off the miles, my mind churned through my options. Upon reaching the exit ramp, I detoured off my route, stopping at a little mall just beside the interstate. Inside, a hair salon awaited my walk-in business.
In no time I was greeted by the lady who I hoped was going to solve all my hair issues and put me back on the road in record time. He smile was sweet as she ushered me to the chair. When she began my shampoo I felt something from her I wasn't sure about. I felt just a hunt of a vibration From her. Was she nervous? Then when I sat down in her salon chair and she began to comb through my wet hair, I felt my stomach fall to my toes. Her hands were noticeably shaking.
I watched this lady prepare to cut my hair with hands shaking vividly. Oh my, how thoughts aced through my mind! Now what was I going to do? Was I going to sit here and let these shaking hands get near my head with sharp, pointy scissors? Was she nervous? Sick? Detoxing? And I just thought my day was not going well. Now, in the mirror I watched a detoxing Edward Scissorhands about get grab hold of my head of hair!
I took a deep breath and decided I was just going to have to a grab the bull by the horns and address this issue. I looked her straight in the mirror and said, "Your hands are shaking." Although it was an obvious statement, I felt those four words bounce and echo throughout the small room filled with stylists and their customers. I noticed an eery silence throughout the salon as all the other stylists seemed to be holding their breath for the other shoe to drop, while attempting to appear to concentrate on their own customer.
The lady looked me in the eye via the mirror and without hesitation said, "Yes, I have a trimmer." Her statement was stated as a fact with little emotion. It was made as a response to my observation and now she was waiting, as if this was not a new experience for her. Waiting for my unmentioned, yet very definite decision. Do we proceed or find another course of action.
Now what do I do?
I elected to ask another question. "Does this affect your hair cutting ability?" She remained stone still but smiled warmly, "No," she said, "but I don't pluck eyebrows, that is just too tedious for me." As I sat in her chair, draped with the black cape, wet hair wild, I considered my options as thoughts raced through my mind.
- Will she clip my ear? Poke my head?
- This is a business, surely they didn't hire her if she can't do the job.
- Just how many jagged cuts with those scissors would she make before I screamed?
- Was she actually coming off a drug high and no one wanted to admit it?
- i don't want like the punk rock star style hair chops.
- I was going to have to live with this haircut for a while...
I smiled back at her and she knew my decision. She began combing my wet hair and then picked up her scissors.
Still a bit unnerved, I considered the options for bad results and concluded that it was just hair and it would grow out... Eventually.
As I observed her through the mirror, I noticed she would shake until just before she clipped, then she would stop, snip, and then back to shaking again. I watched the determined expression on her face. And I felt bad. Whatever the outcome of this haircut, this woman was obviously working harder than the average hair stylist to accomplish the same goal. And I had just made her job more difficult. Now her stress level was elevated thanks to my challenging her competency to do her job. I noticed two roses displayed on her workstation. They looked like they came from someone's rose garden. I complimented her on how beautiful they were and she told me one of her customers had brought them to her that morning. A few minutes later I closed my eyes and told her that I might fall asleep so if I started snoring, she might need to nudge me. She snickered and asked if I was that relaxed. I confirmed that I was. This let her know that I was good. I was trusting her to do whatever With my head and hair. It wasn't long before she was styling and drying and then handing me a hand mirror so I could see the back.
I looked at my fine, yet full hair that usually had just enough natural curl to aggravate most any hairstyle. The layers I saw in the mirror I held were amazing. Smooth and soft. I smiled As I admired. As she removed the cape and I picked up my purse, I stopped. " You know, I had reservations when I sat down here and saw your hands shaking, but honestly, this is one of the best haircuts I've ever had." The lady smiled as if she was accustomed to this kind of situation. One of the other stylists that had finished with her client and was now resting in her chair said, "when I first started working here and she gave me a haircut, my first thought was 'awww...' But honestly it was the best haircut I'd had also. It's like she has learned to compensate for the movement from the tremor."
As I climbed back into my car and continued on my journey, my thoughts were filled with what had just happened. this prompted me to consider others I knew that worked within physical limitations. I worked with a guy once who was legally deaf. He had been born with a hearing impairment due to an illness his mother had while carrying him. He received his first hearing aid when he was ten. He had learned early on to read lips and when our work day I took place in the same office, I learned quickly how much he depended on that to communicate.
Another coworker lost his eye to a tumor removal at the age of three. I watched how his efforts to function at a normal capacity was a priority for him. He did this so much so that many had no clue his sight consisted of one eye and not two.
I have a relative who has MS. She prefers not to acknowledge this publicly when possible. she does not want sympathy or special treatment. She lives in agonizing pain that increases drastically during an MS attack. She works in an office where compassion is a requirement and she has no problem fulling that. She makes time to tend to other family members needs as well as her own, transporting them to Doctor appointments and caring out medical instructions as well as keeping up with all the paperwork.
A friend of mine broke his back when a horse fell on him. David Pruitt has spent many years now in a wheelchair. He is one of the most Independant people I know. He has honed his talent as auctioneer, now running his own auction company. He's enjoyed holding the mic as auctioneer at several of Martina McBride's benefit auctions. He also devotes much of his time to his rodeo passion by assisting with fund raising events for the UTM Rodeo Team In Martin, TN.
David's smile is relentless. His dry wit and humor astound most, yet he overcomes challenges each and every day that the average human never even considers. It is not surprising that his business is so successful as well as his fund raising.
Another family member has a less noticeable physical challenge. He has ADHD. Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder. AKA, he can't sit still. His concentration is brief. We communicate via text messages mostly because long emails require him to focus longer than he's capable of. Although many average careers would be nearly impossible for him to achieve, there's one that he knocks out of the ball park with incredible ease. He paints cars. The immediate result of a finished paint job is extremely rewarding for him and even though he may bounce off the walls everywhere else, when he's in the paint booth, his hand on the paint gun is rock solid steady.
I had the opportunity to work in an office once with a lady for a while who had dyslexia. I admit I cringed at the thought of her filing. Neither numerical or alphabetical is a walk in the park for someone dyslexic. It's been a while now, since her temporary position ended and I honestly admit, I find more errors in filing that "I" made than she did. She was always so intense about being through. The result was lack of errors.
As I completed my journey across the state and my mental inventory of all those who worked with physical challenges daily, I realized I could not think of a single person who did not succeed above the average in the service they provide. To me, this realization was profound. These people, who wake up each morning wishing nothing more than to "be like everyone else" actually achieve more than the "everyone else" they strive to be like!
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