Post Title: Sight Loss and the Workplace: An Odd Friday and a New Focus Part 2
If you’ve been following my employment in the bakery of the neighborhood grocery store chain, you know I’ve been working hard to problem-solve ways around my vision loss to successfully complete my assigned duties. If you missed Part 1, you can find that post here.
When my brother picked me up from work that Friday, I didn’t say anything. Used to my bubbly descriptions of my work day, even on tough days, he asked me, “How did work go today?”
“So odd,” I said, still trying to piece together what had happened.
A Look Back
When I arrived, I’d shown the oversized cake order forms to the supervisor in charge. ‘I even got one laminated,’ I said in case that was easier. Do you think they’ll work?”
“They’ll work for you,” she said.
I smiled; So true. I wondered where to put them. There wasn’t much extra space in the bakery so I placed them under the table where I packaged desserts.
I didn’t need to be told what to do since I had been working in desserts for the past week and a half. But there were not a lot of desserts to package today. That wasn’t so unusual, however. They were probably in the oven and a rack would be brought up for me to package them.
Odd Moments in the Bakery
What was unusual was that the supervisor in charge wasn’t taking the desserts out into the grocery store. She operated like clockwork so this was odd. She disappeared. It seemed as if everyone else did too. There was only one other employee there. So strange. Like a true skeleton crew.
The phone rang. I looked around. The cake decorator didn’t attempt to answer it. I started to feel uncomfortable. “I guess I need to answer that.” I just picked it up and didn’t press any buttons. “Good morning, Amy speaking. Um, the bakery.”
There was a question about stuffing—I thought. I hoped. Had I heard correctly? I didn’t want to give wrong information.
Then the timer went off one of the ovens. Usually, one of the bakers caught it on the second buzz. But no, not today. It kept beeping for almost ten minutes. That made me uncomfortable, too. I wish I knew how to take whatever it was, out.
Why wasn’t the baker there? Any of the bakers? Typically, we had three.
Then someone came to buy a cake. I’d never sold a cake before. You would think it would be so simple. But I didn’t even know there was a top shelf for petite cakes. The customer had to motion where it was three times.When I removed the cake from the shelf, my hands trembled. Oh no! I brushed a bit of frosting onto the lid when I packaged it. Typical Amy. I hope the customer hadn’t noticed.
Where was everyone?
The beeper was still going off.
Someone came to pick up a large cake. I didn’t know where to place it as the “show table was filled with rolls.
I took a deep breath and placed it on my work area table. The customer had to come into the bakery. I didn’t remember anyone ever doing that.
Then my co-workers started to filter in. The baker turned off the oven. My supervisor waited on customers. With relief, I went back to my desserts. When I finished the few trays there were, I found some boxed desserts. I had done a few of these before so went ahead and finished labeling them.
I can’t explain how odd the bakery felt. Something was off.
When I finished what I knew how to do with the desserts, the supervisor in charge didn’t tell me what to do next. Instead, she chatted with the supervisor while they worked. It almost felt as if she had disassociated herself from me.
Well, I guess some days people will be busy. I took the desserts out on the floor myself. I had to ask several times where to place them.
A Dash Through the Bakery
Finally, I had pudding cakes to package. The cake decorator gave me some small plates. After looking for a bit, I asked where the lids were. I had only worked with this dessert once before several days earlier.
“Let me show you,” She came over from her section and took my hand (like I was a five-year-old) and we RAN to the far end of the bakery as if we were in a RAINSTORM. “Don’t want you to trip over anything!” she said.
My jaw dropped down. What in heaven’s names was going on? Trip? This was a little over the top!
This day became odder and odder.
Finally, I could find nothing else to do. The only thing left was the Italian bread. I shrugged, the rebel in me surfaced and I placed the first loaf of bread on the slicer. I looked for my supervisor to tell me she had banned me from breads. But she was not around.
The Italian bread was crisp because it had baked far too long. it kept getting caught in the slicer and came out misshapen.
A Surprise Meeting
At 2:30, I was getting ready to take my thirty-minute lunch break when my supervisor came over to me and told me we had to go somewhere. She mentioned a name I wasn’t familiar with.
When we arrived at the office, I learned I was being reassigned to the “front end” The bakery is in the back end.
There was nothing to prepare me—which infuriated me—and made me feel as if my effort to overcome my sight challenges didn’t matter.
A New Assertiveness
“Why didn’t you implement any of the suggestions the Sight Center liaison recommended?” I boldly asked. “And we never had the meeting to discuss her letter.” She had not even introduced herself to Penny, the liaison.
My supervisor placed her hands on her hips. She said between the three stores the HR manager worked there had never been time.
“Is she here today?” The supervisor, who I now knew managed the front end of the store, suddenly said, diplomatically. “We can get her input.”
She was. So we moved the meeting into the Human Resources office.
The sesame seed bread mix-up was the major reason for my transfer. Since sesame seeds were an allergen, a mislabeling could be poisonous. I got that—now. Why hadn’t my supervisor ever mentioned this to me? I had never worked in food before. Allergens had never entered my mind. Wasn’t that their responsibility to make the consequences known to me ahead of time?
“You already took me off breads,” I pointed out.
My supervisor crossed her arms. “I never took you off breads.” She sounded sullen. “There have been other instances of mis-labeling,” she insisted.
“Another instance of miscommunication, I said, referring to the breads issue.
And there was the problem of me tripping over the U-boat (a cart) in the bakery. That happened my second week (twice)—and wouldn’t have if my cane had been permitted in the bakery. How come it suddenly came to a head now? “I didn’t make it a big deal.”
“Big deal or not, we can’t have you getting hurt. We want you to be safe,” the HR person said, reasonably.
I blinked back the tears. “When does this change take place?”
“It was supposed to be today but there was an email mix-up and so it will be tomorrow. “
Tomorrow! I thought I could at least finish out the week.
“I was doing so well with the supervisor in charge. She implemented the suggestions. We worked well together.” I massaged my temples.
My supervisor made a derisive noise. “Oh, for two days?”
“A week and two days,” I corrected her.
Why was I arguing? The decision was already made. My shoulders slumped. The images I had in my mind of taking cake decorating and baking classes vanished.
Defeat Sets In
“You look so defeated,” the HR manager observed. “We’re not booting you out. We’re putting you in a position you may be better suited for.” She sounded kind. “You will be able to use your cane there. But you really won’t need it as you’ll be in one place. You may love being a cashier!” She injected a note of cheer into the dismal meeting. “I did it for twelve years. What do you think?”
Yes, but you could see the register.
“Honestly? I think I’ll be slow since I imagine I won’t see the register keys
well. What if the customers start throwing their food at me?”
“I don’t think that will happen.” The HR manager smiled. “We’re getting you magnification.”
I imagined them fitting a screen over the register and that improved my morale.
With my new position and schedule discussed, the meeting finished. I gathered the leftovers from the fridge in the breakroom. Finally, I entered the bakery and picked up the now forlorn bag of never-used enlarged cake order forms.
I got mad all over again for my supervisor not telling me to hold off on the forms. After all, she knew I’d never use them.
In the Car
The odd day finally came into focus.
“…When the bakery was almost empty, they must have been having a meeting about me.” Why hadn’t they included me? They must have gotten input from everyone and emphasized my tripping. Oh-h. That’s why the decorator ran with me earlier. I made a face.
“I think I was the only one surprised by my transfer,” I grumped to my brother as we pulled into the driveway.
“You’ll do good,” Mike reassured me. “You can do it.”
He sounded so positive. When the low-vision motivator with high expectations needs a re-charge, my brother is the best antidote ever!
A Strong Support System
My support started with Mike. But it didn’t end there.
I called and texted a few friends to try to make sense of this new development.
I left a phone message to my friend who is blind, telling her about the situation. She would understand my feelings. Later, I received a message back comforting me.
And what did Julio, my nemesis say? “You always catastrophize. Try it out.” But then he added his typical quip. “I can just see you now with your I-love-Lucy moment. ‘Oops. I broke the register. Well, I guess that means cash for every-ONE!’”
“Julio, stop it!” But, as usual, he made me laugh and take myself less seriously.
My mom used to say, “Sleep on it. You’ll feel better in the morning.” Perhaps I would.
It stunk that being pro-active in my job didn’t bring about the desired results. They just saw my sight loss. But on the other hand, being assigned to another department wasn’t the worst thing in the world. And I still had a job. I really needed the money.
I had a good support system to tap into. Could anyone be any luckier to have backing from so many arenas? I tried to put my job situation in perspective. Try to embrace it.
I thought about the odd way my teammate ran with me through the bakery. It had felt so condescending. I hadn’t been able to educate her probably well-intentioned dash. She probably felt silly too.
God, it kills me that they didn’t listen in the bakery. But you know exactly how to help me in my new position. I’ll run with you through the obstacles. I know I’ll probably trip. But you’ll help me up again. Not because you don’t think I can’t do it on my own. You’re just that kind of a teammate.
And I took His hand.
You have just read “Sight Loss and the Workplace: An Odd Friday and a New Focus Part 2” by Amy L. Bovaird. © November 30, 2021. All rights Reserved.