A few days ago I was eating breakfast at my parents house in the 253 (Tacoma, WA area) before I got in my car and headed back to the Portland, Oregon. My dad, he is a republican and has this tendency to bring up conversations that you don’t want to really be part of. He also has an issue with people playing sports, in America, not standing for the national anthem so let me write a few things down, in no particular order, before I get onto the topic of way I started this post in the first place.
The first time the National Anthem was played at a public sports event was during the 1918 World Series held by the Major League Baseball. According to a quick Google search Major League Baseball was established in 1869. So not taking the mouths into account, just doing basic math, that’s 49 years without singing or even standing for the National Anthem. It was only sang by the military two years prior in 1916 under the order of President Woodrow Wilson.
Jackie Robinson, the first black athlete of the MLB didn’t play under the MLB until the year 1947. So doing basic math again, that’s 29 years that we sang the National Anthem before black dudes were able to play on the same field as white dudes. On a side note, the Negro National League was established in 1920, so that was 27 years before he was allowed to go over there.
By reading an article from ESPN, it sounds to me like the National Anthem stuck around because of the fact that it drew a larger crowd. So if you’re like me you’re asking yourself is it because people liked it, singing a song that made people feel unified; or is it because the MLB wanted more money due to ticket sales?
Since I’m doing this, the NFL was founded in 1920 in the state of Ohio.
Onto another point which will lead into my main point…
I’m part of a group on Facebook where all its members listen to the same podcast out of Seattle. Most of these members are from the Seattle area, and by the Seattle area I’m talking about a 50 mile radius around the city of. Some of the other members used to live Washington but since then moved away to other states such as Nebraska, like I used to; Iowa, Arkansas, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, so on and so forth. The ongoing motto of the podcast is to ‘stay positive’ and we all seem to not only joke around and have fun, but show support for other members regardless of political or religious differences, and this environment creates very few arguments.
A few days ago, one of the most known members of this group shared an article from Sports Illustrated about how Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks did not stand for the National Anthem. This post has generated 67 comments over the span of 3 days, many of those comments having subcomments. I even have a few comments on said post, and even though I was not trying to fight with anyone; it just…there was a reason to even though I think I stayed pretty neutral.
So let’s jump back, or forward, to eating breakfast at my parents house, I got into a discussion with my dad; my family always yells at one another even if we are not fighting. From the conversation I found out that my parents also have arguments with my dad’s sister-in-law; the wife of one of his two brothers, or two of his three nephew’s; the three sons of one of my dads five sisters. I found this out just based on hearing my mom say, “Just shut up Bill, you’re talking to a brick wall; it’s just going to be like talking to Dan or Becky.”
These family members are from Nebraska and never lived outside of the Midwest, they never lived in parts of the country that tend to be more democratic based on population size and how different one person is than the other and the idea that you have to learn how to coexist on a rock that is floating, in a pattern, though space.
My dad thinks that our current President, Donald Trump, is a fucking idiot; well hey, I do too! Even though he is a republican he is more moderate than he may think, he is not one of those 33% that live in the Midwest and thinks everything Donald Trump does is a gift from God.
At one point during the fight I got my dad to say, even though he kinda disagreed with me, “Yes, he has that right, and I will fight for that right,” my dad used to be a Marine, “But I still think it is disrespectful. But you’re right Daniel, I would not want to live in a country that forced its citizen to sit or stand.”
My mom thought me and my dad were fighting, but no, we were just yelling at one another. We didn’t really start fighting until he asked me, “Why did he sit, what was his reasoning?”
I quickly, without a thought, replied by saying, “He sat due to something that he thinks is a injustice, the mistreatment of black people.”
From there the conversation kinda ended, I kept saying “Okay,” at one point just to avoid a fight.
I get my use of metaphors from my dad and for whatever fucking reason he was comparing black people to tigers saying, “You’re right, police need to be better but at the same time I can’t really blame them; when you deal with tigers attacking people everyday and then you find a tiger you’re going to be on edge expecting it to attack you.”
This is kinda where I zoned out and started saying, “Okay.”
My mom ended the conversation when I said, “God dammit dad, he didn’t approach a tiger, he approached a god damn domesticated house cat who told the officer that he was getting his wallet out of his back pocket; and he fucking got shot!”
So with the idea of this posting on Facebook and the conversation that I just had with my dad, on top of the conversation that I had last week I ended up with a thought in my head as I was driving south on I-5.
“What if I didn’t stand for the National Anthem? Would it be assumed that I can’t because I’m in a wheelchair? How would they know that I was choosing not to stand, is it just because they assume that I can’t? What if I wanted to raise awareness because people who are physically disabled have a extremely difficult time finding employment. What if? Would people even be talking about it?”
We have laws in place, I know this, a place of employment can not legally discriminate against me, but you know what? It happens! Do a large majority of people believe me when I tell them that finding a job when you’re physically disabled is extremely difficult? No.
All of the discrimination is unintentional, it’s not like the hiring manager is going around and telling me I’m less then a human because I’m in a wheelchair.
But guess what employers? We feel that way even though you don’t have any intention of doing so, and maybe you do, maybe you are an asshole; but there are ways around that law, some of you know this and you are an asshole, some of you just say no based on this or that but either way you still make handicapped people feel pretty god damn useless.
So because of the idea that I can’t speak on your perspective, lets throw myself under the buss.
In high school, even though I could walk at the time, I was still disabled; my disability is not going away. Unless they come out with a cure, which they were supposed to happen ten years ago. Regardless I was in a wheelchair at that time and my education was based on the field of science and technology, engineering to be more specific.
During my sophomore year of high school I took a drafting class, that as you would expect started out using things like pencils, paper, table, t-squares, triangles, scales, eraser shields, so on and so forth. That then moved into AutoCAD. In my junior year I moved high schools and more or less ended up taking the same class with a different name. For my senior year of high school I could not take the same class over again, so I more or less ended up being a teachers assistant in the same class that I took the year prior.
At one point I got yelled at by my teacher saying, “You’re supposed to be helping these kids, not doing their work for them.” I’m sorry, most of these kids were taking this class because, “It’s an easy A man,” and when you’re trying to explain to a kid to type ‘@34.25<270’ and they act like you’re talking a foreign language it’s easy to just be like “Here, I’ll show you,” but then you get trapped in a moment of, “I’ll just do it for you, because I don’t want to get pissed because you can’t.”
After graduation I went to college and obtained my Associates in Mechanical Engineering Design. I spent two and a half years in a land of…taking my son to daycare, going to school where I studied mechanical blueprints, trig, geometry, physics; for 8 hours a day, picking my kid up from daycare, and then being yelled at my his mom.
I have extensive knowledge in blueprint design, I can’t necessarily tell you how to build a bridge that is supposed to hold 100 tons, and I might have to brush up if you ask me, “If I have a truck that weights 2,000 pounds and is going 40 miles per hour up a hill with friction and a 35% incline and I’m towing a 2,000 pound boat how much will it slow me down and how long will it take for me to get to the top of the hill that is in another 50 feet.”
After that I started a job that was not an engineering type job, but was related in the field of such and gave me experience in the manufacturing/production environment. I held onto that job for 5 years before I was transferred to Seattle and realized that the drive was too much and I could not do it anymore.
While I was employed at that job I went to school…again, got my second Associates in Machining and Manufacturing Technologies, my main goal of getting that degree was to become a CNC Programmer, but then you got the idea that the vast majority of employers will not hire a CNC programmer if said person was not a CNC operator beforehand. That was the beginning of my downfall with that company, I more or less started a job that I could not physically do at the speed that they were asking, and they kept asking me to speed up so much that I got into this mode of doing stupid shit, scraping parts, and asking a ton of questions that I already knew.
And my walking has became worse since that point in time, so while I may not be able to run the machine I can tell you how to setup the machine, load the program, set the Z, set the offset, how to takedown, and I can even tell you what N76G01Z-0.625F1 means.
But does that matter to employers? No. Because my job as a CNC operator was a failure, why? I don’t know if they care. On paper they see this, they don’t care if I know how to program the part being made, the history tells them differently. And I don’t want a job in CNC anything, I’ve done that before, don’t want to do it again.
I’d rather produce a 3D model based on a customers 2D blueprint and hand it to the machinist and say, “Make this shit.”
Then you got the idea that people make assumptions. And that is the downside of being in a wheelchair. You don’t know what I can or can not do, and it’s illegal for you to even ask.
Part of me blames America too, where the fuck do you get the idea that I’m going to sue your company because I fell down or whatever? Oh yea, people do that; but I’m not an asshole. Do you know that? If you give me a job and I stand up with the idea that I might fall over and I do fall over, that is on me, it’s my fault. Now, I’ll sue you if you made me stand up, but if I could do the job without standing up, and I make the personal decision to stand up; I’m not going to sue you because I made the choice to and fell down.
But does it happen? Yes, people sue people over stupid shit all the time. Look at out president, cough cough.
The thing that pisses me off about that is…the negative stereotype plays a lot into your assumption. And while you sit there making assumptions about things that you don’t know or even understand; I’m sitting here being depressed day in and day out because you’re not the only one making those assumptions, everyone else is too. While you sit there I’m taking money out of your pocket, and sure you could sit there and say, “You fucking lazy bastard, stop taking my tax money,” but that’s your fault, it’s your fault that your paying me just to live.
It’s not like I’m not trying to find a job, it’s that all you fuckers make assumption that…you can’t legally make, but can you? And do you? You can make up reasons not to hire someone, sometimes you don’t even need to make shit up. There are a lot, a lot of jobs that I can’t physically do, I get that, but I’m not trying to apply as a patrol officer either.
You’re legally supposed to provide accommodations, but that is a slippery slope and I don’t think people understand that. A chair, fine, if you have to spend $20 on a chair so I can sit, fine you figure I can make that money back within X amount of time. But if you assume, and what happens when you assume? You make an ass out of you and me. When you assume that you need to spend more then it costs to employ me, you wont employ me. And we come back to the negative stereotype that surrounds people in wheelchairs.
Do you know me? Do you know what I can do? Oh that’s right, you can’t ask.
After that job I was giving an under the job table helping my dad. At that time my father was the senior design engineer at a company in Nebraska, and that is why I moved back to Nebraska in the first place. My dad did not know how to use Solidworks, but he knew that I did, he also knew my educational background; based upon that he gave me a job that I could do from home, a job that I could start at three in the afternoon and do until four in the morning if I wanted to.
I talked about this in a previous post, but to summarize it I moved back to Nebraska to take a job at said company. My dad only took the job because they promised to give me a job. By the time I moved back the government shutdown was in high gear, the job never happened, and every time my dad mentioned my name to his boss, he boss would straight up walk away and act like I didn’t exist.
And that is why my dad quit his job and moved back to Washington State to take his old job.
But when he moved we had reason to stay, so we more or less end up staying in Nebraska for another three years. During that time I was lucky and found a job, that hired me after saying that they wouldn’t.
When I started working there I’ve heard a few times that I did a good job and they were happy that they gave me a job, which to be honest only made me feel like I was negatively stereotyped during my initial interview.
I kept that job for a year and a half before I was laid off due to a loss in customer base. During my employment there I ended up turning 2D blueprints into 3D models and then doing the reverse.
I spent my life focused on this, mainly because I knew I had to get a job that I could do from a desk. But the vast majority of the time, these people have worked on the floor for several years. Can I work on the production floor? Then we get back to my first job. Can I work on the floor? Yea, depending on the job. Do you assume that I can work on the floor? Most manufacturing jobs would make you assume that I can’t. Sadly, a lot of them are set up that way and they don’t even bother to ask if they could provide reasonable accommodations unless I have a golden penis that cums one hundred dollar bills.
After I got laid off from my last job…we were planning on moving to Oregon the year before, and due to her job and my job, the decision to stay in Nebraska was made about two weeks prior to me finding out that I was laid off.
So I found myself staying in Nebraska for another year without a job. At this point, I knew from previous occasions how hard it was to find a job. What do I do? I call social security to go back onto disability, and that, that was the most stressful month of my life. I didn’t know if I was going to receive money again by the time my rent was due. I didn’t get any word from anyone about anything. I just sat there worried until money popped into my account without any notification.
I was trying to find a job. Under the rules of Social Security I can work part time for under X amount of money per month, in gross pay, and Social Security still gives me something.
But are you aware how hard it is to find a job, yet alone a part time job when people assume you can’t physically do the job that you’re applying for?
I lived in Lincoln, NE at the time so let assume that there are 250,000 jobs and at the time the unemployment rate was 4.8%, so by doing simple math 12,000 jobs. If you figure that half of those jobs are part-time that take your 12,000 down to 6,000. Then you take into account that I can’t work fast food, I can’t stock shelf’s, I have no customer experience experience, what can I do? That takes the number 6,000 down to about 600. Then you got to account for all the people that can either physically do shit or have better qualifications.
Do you know how much Social Security Disability pays? Do you even care? I assume it’s different for everyone. Let’s assume that you have a full time job that pays you $11.87 an hour, sounds good right, a gross pay of $1,900 a mouth; not great, but that is livable for most poor people; and fuck, there are a lot of poor people in this country. If your monthly gross is $1,900 your take home pay is roughly $1,463; that goes to say that every other Friday you’re taking home $731.50.
Now take that number and instead of getting it every 15 days, you get it every 30 days. How the fuck are you supposed to live on that? Now of days a good 95% of the apartments charge rent over $731.50, so I can’t even pay rent; much less car insurance, car payment, gas for said car, cell phone; what do you expect me to do, get a land line…it’s 2017 people.
So, I need a job, I want a job, do you know how depressing it is to sit here and eat food, go to the store, play Fallout 4, or write a 3,365+ word blog post? I want to feel like I’m contributing to society somehow. Not only that, but fuck, I don’t want to live with my fiances parents either.
That’s easy Dan, change career paths. It’s not that easy! What the hell do I do? My life is surrounded around the idea of engineering, and yes; there are more things I can learn, but still. It’s not like I’m going to take a job that I can’t even do.
So if I was in the situation where millions of people could witness me sit down for the national anthem is it okay just because you assume that I can’t stand? If I made the choice to sit would you know that I’m sitting based on the fact that I’m already sitting and you assume that I can’t stand?
If I wanted to use that as a vehicle to raise awareness to an issue that I deem is an injustice would people even be talking about it?
I used this metaphor once, and I’m going to use it again. That’s the problem Colin Kaepernick is dealing with; it’s like he used a 1998 Toyota Super as a vehicle to raise awareness about how cars don’t get enough gas mileage, and the vehicle worked; it made people all around the country talk. But a year later people are still fighting over the type of vehicle that he used and instead of getting engineers involved to figure out how to reduce gas mileage you got a bunch of people arguing about muscle cars, SUVs, trucks, vans; and why that vehicle is better. Everyone, or most, forgot what the fucking issue was about.
So if I sit during the National Anthem would people care? Would they make an issue about it?
Disabled people, in 1990 the A.D.A. was formed and did a lot to protect us, but does it do enough? There are ways to get around it, and employers use them all the time rather they intend to or not. Discrimination against disabled people happens everyday, might even happen right in front of your face; and you don’t even know.
Perspective; when is the last time you saw someone and thought, “I wonder what their life is like, and if I was faced with the same issues could I overcome it?”
I’ll end this post by asking a very basic question. In this country we have the 1st amendment; that being said we have the freedom to sit or stand for the flag and that same freedom grantees that no one is going to force you do to what they think you should do. Some people might say, “Yea, well standing for the flag is a sign of respect.” You know what, you’re right; but at the same time exercising your right to make a choice on the matter, is also a sign of respect.
Sit or stand, I don’t care, do whatever makes you happy; but think about what you’re saying before you say, “That’s disrespectful.” Is it?
You have that freedom, is it not respect to choose either of the two based on the fact that “they” gave you the freedom to make that choice?