>I had a trainee with me today at work. When that happens the client is asked if they mind being observed but not told who is the trainee etc. I just do my thing like normal and the trainee basically has to be seen and not heard as they say. I was sat sideways on at the computer in the room and he was sat facing me. Carole was sat on the same side of the room as him but facing away from me. (it’s a tiny room and basically each of us was sat in three of the four corners)
So we went into the room and personally I like to start by introducing myself if we’ve not met before. I do that and introduced Carole too, he tells me his name and I ask how I can help. He persistently looked and Carole and talked to her and I just had to sit there and work quite hard to get his attention on me. Carole bless her remembered her ground rules and did a great job of pretending not to be there – didn’t say a word and refused to make eye contact with him so he did eventually divert his attention back and respond to me.
I really had the feeling not that he didn’t want to be dealing with me but that dealing with me not Carole took him outside of his comfort zone. Not from anything he said or did but just a feeling. Possibly that just came from my reflecting back my own feelings – when you ask someone a question and they turn the back of their head to you and answer to your companion it’s not particularly pleasant
We sorted his issue out and off he went. Then came the best bit of having a trainee whose reached the stage Carole’s had – she wrote the case notes for me. Which really excited her because it made her feel like a “real adviser” and pleased me because all I had to do was sit there and tell her which bits she had to fill out for that and then check what she wrote to be sure I agreed with it.
And as she wrote we chatted a bit. I was still a little peeved with the client for not seeming to want to deal with me (although I’d not let him see that). Eventually I just asked her if she’d noticed that he hadn’t wanted to deal with me and said that I attributed that to the fact that I am disabled.
She told me she had noticed it but said that she had assumed it was an age thing (because she is old enough to be my mother without wanting to be rude about her) and said that in her previous job she had often found that people approached her more often as the older staff member (she ran a gym with mostly younger staff members). Because the common perception is that older is wiser.
And when she talked to the supervisor about the interview she said that and the supervisor agreed that she too would tend to go to the older because you just assume that the older person is the wiser one. And also as they pointed out, more often than not the younger one would be the student and the older the tutor.
So as much I was all “rah that was disablism the way he ignored me.” it wasn’t. It could be argued that it was ageism but somehow that doesn’t bother me now.
And so I once again learnt the lesson that I need to stop assuming that everything happens because of my disability – because it doesn’t.