My jetBlue headache

Waking up to a disability is an unbelievably bizarre shift in one’s life. I have no idea what percentage of the people reading this already have a disability, or what percentage of you will wake up tomorrow with a newly acquired one. Isn’t that a frightening thought? There was nothing gradual about my acquisition. BAMN the disability came crashing in. Ta-daaa! Enter red tape into every part of my life.

My friends and family struggled to help me deal with the stress and complications. Holly wasn’t as fun anymore. The medication had never ending side effects. And who wanted to date an epileptic? On the job I suffered the scrutiny of a workforce that would rather not have me. I know. I know. It’s ok. I have a sense of humor. Ha. So much for eating all of that salad without any salad dressing for all those years, right? For the rest of my life no matter how healthy I am, much of the world will see me as weak and sick. Yes. It makes even me laugh.

People have been writing a lot of strong opinions in the Forum here at Useless Knowledge.com. So. Now it’s is my turn. This is my say. JetBlue isn’t a bad company. The discrimination I have been facing is bad. Unwarranted. Tiring. Sad. But. Please note: I believe that there is a difference between a bad company and a bad situation within a good company.

Really. There are many good things about jetBlue. I’ll always remember flying on Thanksgiving last year. The ground crew at the Buffalo airport fixed us turkey dinners which they packed onto the plane for us to enjoy after our service. They knew that we flight attendants were away from home for the holiday and wanted to be sure that we got a good meal. Man. That was the best Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever eaten. (Um. Don’t tell my mom. Their turkey wasn’t dry.)

And I remember when the CEO, David Neeleman, went above and beyond when he heard that a flight attendant’s father was in the hospital in Salt Lake City recovering from a heart attack. There was little chance that my good friend, Mindy could jump seat on the last plane out, as there were senior flight attendants who would bump her place for a free ride home. Mr. Neeleman bought Mindy a seat on the plane, and then stayed at the airport for hours to be sure that she made it on.

There are a lot of very caring people at jetBlue. I have many friends who work there. I have loved my time working there. It really has been an incredible experience. Yes. There are problems with the policies regarding disabilities. And, quite frankly, those policies have been giving me a bit of a jetBlue headache.

I support people writing letters to the company stating their opinions, or asking for change. And I am honored that people would want to take a stand for my cause when it is so far removed from their own lives. I strongly believe in freedom of speech. And. Believe it or not, it is a total coincidence that I was prompted to write this on the Fourth of July.

Last night I saw that in the Forum there was another call for spamming jetBlue’s computers with e-mails regarding my situation. I asked Useless Knowledge to please remove that note as it was written as if I supported spamming as a form of protest. I don’t. Although I am grateful for the support, I think that there are other ways to encourage change.

Yes. Write letters. And start conversations. The Forum is a wonderful place to start. Is it ok for an epileptic to be a flight attendant? (I think so. My doctor insists.) Can you hear a child with one hand clap? (I can.) Can a paraplegic think? (I’m listening, are you?) Keep asking. Decide for yourself. I strongly believe in freedom of speech. Write. Talk. Converse. Especially on this Fourth of July. Freedom of speech. That’s one freedom we can only hope we’ll enjoy for the rest of our lives.

I can’t guarantee that you won’t be disabled one day. So. Any person taking an interest in any cause regarding disabilities makes a lot of sense. But. Don’t feel badly for my disability. Please. Don’t pity me. I might be disabled. But, as I try to prove in this column, it’s only on my darkest, dreariest days when the seizures peek through and the medicine rears its ugly head and I forget that epilepsy is only a small part of who I am…. Only then is epilepsy a true debilitation.

The rest of my time is spent in gratitude for the many facets of my life that ARE working. Yes. I am well aware of how many wonders there are in my world. I am incredibly fortunate. Oh. Sure. I will continue to polish my life so that it shines to brilliance, but… until then… I’ll continue to see the good in all of the things I already have.

And. Sweet darlin-readers. Please know: I consider you and your support for my daily columns and the fact that you are so willing to laugh and cry and fight right next to me the real icing on the cake.

And when it comes to cake, the icing is my favorite part of all.

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