My assistants are a crucial part of my life. I love them dearly but there comes a time to say good-bye. Good-byes can go one of two ways. They can involve a dinner and gifts or an awkward conversation with my mother. I had one of each this month. The woman who got the awkward phone conversation with my mother was controlling and manipulative. It was a very unhealthy relationship. Then, there are amazing women like Aislin who will literally sacrifice a week of their life so I don't have to be around assistants I don't like. I am eternally grateful for her sacrifice that week. Now, I think people who do not have disabilities think new assistants grow from trees. They don't.
I am going to explain the interview process. This is the way my parents and I choose to do it. Other members of the disabled community choose to do it differently. Everyone has their own way and I respect all ways. My family and I start by putting an ad on Craigslist, and then my mom e-mails the prospective candidates who seem serious about the job. After a few e-mails with each woman, my mom gives me their e-mail address. We decide where and when to meet. Since I don’t have the luxury of having access to a student union anymore for a public place to meet, I usually choose Starbucks.
Over the years, I've had some strange conversations in these interviews. I've had a pretty difficult month with assistants but I really don't feel like focusing on that. Instead, I will share some of the conversations that happened during these interviews.
Interview #1: Ms. Moocher. I once had a girl who thought "doing dinner" meant I would buy her dinner. No, it does not. It means feeding me dinner. The girl looked confused. After that, I quickly ended that interview.
Interview #2: Ms. Drama Mama. This girl is a single mom that tugs at my heart strings. She wants to get back and help the world. I am considering hiring her until she brings up how her baby daddy died, how her grandmother is sick, and how her son replaces a father’s love with TV. That is drama. I can't handle people with drama. I get emotionally attached to these girls and if they get upset, I can’t help but get upset. Hiring this girl would end in disaster.
Interview #3: Ms. Resume. Everything looks great on paper. She can have a great e-mail exchange with me, my mom, and we have all this hope. The thing is Ms. Resume and I have absolutely no chemistry. She just cannot have a decent conversation with me. Part of this relationship is compatibility; if I have to ask all the questions and she feeds me the perfect answers then it won't work...at all!
Interview #4: Ms. Shy. I can tell if I have a "Ms. Shy" within 30 seconds. She will introduce herself and then wait for me to completely carry the conversation. The hard fact is that my assistants need to advocate for me at times. For example, a lot of salespeople don't understand the DynaVox. I count on my assistant to explain to them how I communicate. If she can't hold a conversation with me, this is not going anywhere.
Interview #5: Ms. Volunteer: She has worked with people who have autism, Multiple Sclerosis, the elderly, and now, she wants Cerebral Palsy on her do gooder list. I'm not opposed to this girl, I understand it's all about the resume these days but if you see me as an act of charity...good-bye!
Interview #6: Hannah's New Assistant. She is funny, cute, empathetic, grasps the job’s tasks, and the time flies! Usually, I give each girl 30 minutes even if she is Ms. Shy. You have to understand that I go into every interview hoping to love her. I know this is the case if our interview turns into a conversation and I don't notice the time. I can't tell if she is my new assistant by first glance. Ask anyone! All my assistants look very different. At the end of this interview, I oftentimes give the job away. I'm happy, she's happy, it's all good! Success!
I have struggled with getting assistants and I will admit that interviews are exhausting with how much I have to talk and now that I have to be driven somewhere, it’s even harder However, in the end I have a new person in my life...what a great gift!
Hiring a new assistant is difficult under any circumstance. However, when I do find a new person, it is exciting. There is a learning curve involved on both ends. I have to adjust to their personality and they have to learn my routine. It’s all worth it because I am living my dream of being an independent woman at the end of the day.
Huge shout out to my mother for sorting through the e-mails of women who reply to the Craigslist ad! Oh, and then she comes out and trains them. That is a mother’s love!
I want to thank Aislin for three years of helping me be independent! Good luck at your new job.
Let this post attest to The Beatles song “Help”. The lyrics have been the soundtrack to my month.
All my Love,