On Ableism, Pee Tests and Automated Systems

About a month ago I got a job offer from retail company to work for 12-20 hours a week in customer service. I was excited for the offer. It’s a store where I love browsing. And I wanted a part time job where I can leave the house three days a week, if at all possible. During the interview, I learned shifts would be 4-6.5 hours. Perfect.

From the time I submitted the resume and cover letter online, it was only two days until the interview. Then two later I inteviewed in person (masked) at the Bloomington Store. Later that afternoon after the in person interview I received the verbal and written offer, contigent on a background check and and a drug screen.

Of course these checks were totally totally expected.

However, it made me nervous when I went into LabCorp a few days later to submit my pee sample. I asked the attendant about the prescription that I take for focus which typically triggers the “positive test” warning. The attendant reassured me: oh, there’s a database, they can look you up there. I frowned, because I’m pretty sure this is not true. But I didn’t want to rock the boat at this early stage.

Three other times over the last 15 years when I had to submit to pee tests for employment purposes, I received a call from the lab. I was able to give them a prescription number and a pharmacy name so they could verify. No problem. Verification done. Not an issue.

(Side note: my nurse practitioner collects labs annually, to verify I’m not giving my medicine to someone other than me. Fair enough. I get it. And since I do this during my wellness visit, it’s not inconvenient.)

This time around, it was strange because I heard nothing for a few weeks. I began to wonder so I reached out to the recruiter a few weeks in. She told me she hadn’t heard back yet about the background check (they typically run these for cash-handling positions, and I get that). Okay, let’s wait a week or two more.

Last week she called again to say she was escalating the request and she apologized for the delay. I know she’s got full time employees to prioritize. Someone who works only 12-20 hours a week is not their priority. And they know from my cover letter that I’m self-employed and want a part-time job in order to supplement income that can ebb and flow seasonally.

When I received an automated rejection notice informing me that, “At this time, the results of one or both of these do not meet the COMPANY hiring standards. Consequently, we will no longer be moving forward with your offer of employment.” (I am leaving the company unnamed here because I hope the recruiter might make things right.)

What?!? Seriously?!?

I asked for a copy of the report to see what it contained. The company was able to send the report within two hours by email, thankfully.

Criminal background check: completely blank. Drug screen: red. Flagged for my focus medicine, which I have been taking for 17 years. (Side note: today it’s a lower dose than it was in my 30’s, because I’ve figured out nutritional and exercise interventions to feed my brain better). I called the background company again and they gave me the phone number of the Medical Review Officer (MRO) so I could report the prescription.

This MRO/service person was extremely kind on the phone and when I explained what happened he noted that they didn’t receive my contact information from the lab submitting the sample to them. So they were unable to contact me in order to verify the prescription number or pharmacy. He took down my scrip number and pharmacy information and told me that he would report back to the screening company.

This morning I received an identical second email message rejecting me for not meeting the standards of unnamed retailer. I have to admit, the second rejection email stung even more than the first.

Seriously?!?

I have no other way of knowing if some other employment verification information got messed up or if it’s still rejected because of the red flag on the substance screen. Did a human even look at the updated record? I have no way to know. Since I don’t have a criminal record, there might be something else lurking that I don’t know. And the recruiter claims she was not told by the screening company what was in the record that was of concern. So perhaps there is nothing she can do.

I have other opportunities coming up to work on projects that are more “in my wheelhouse” in terms of coaching and mentoring young leaders for another organization that is more in line with my values. So I don’t plan to spend a lot of time fighting this issue. However, if this is happening to me, I know I’m not the first person with a “hidden disability” to have this issue. Some day I will make use of this story when I speak to companies about inclusive design. This feels like the opposite of that.

Be well, Amigos.

Since change is a constant

I started out today writing about some hints for people who are managing people remotely during the COVID-19 situation. In my role as an operations manager for remote clinical research team, I learned a lot about managing distributed teams. My direct reports were in 5 different countries, so we were seldom all together EXCEPT via teleconferences.

And then: I got news that my friend’s mother is dying. She’s getting on a plane soon in hopes she can say goodbye in person if her Mom is released to hospice care. Family members cannot visit people in hospitals right now. Oh dear. Complicated.

So the earlier idea has been shelved for later. For now, I will readjust my plans for the week, so I can cat-sit for her.

That is okay. Haven’t we shown how capable we are this week of re-adjusting? That we are not in control of so many events in our lives? 

Change is a Constant

Change in our lives has always been constant. And yet we, as humans, cling to our ways of doing things, our comfortable routines. As a neurodiverse person I struggle to maintain routines, though I know that they help me stay sane on the average day.

Meditation has been a daily practice for over 3 years now.  Wow, am I ever glad I made that commitment. Journaling is also a daily practice for me, removing the “static” from my head and getting some distance from it by writing it out. Anything we can to do help manage our emotions right now is important.

I practice yoga 10-15 minutes most days to calm my nervous system. Some days I take whole hour class online through Tula Yoga & Wellness! I’m grateful they are making classes available via Zoom for those of us who want to stay connected and practicing. I’m also delighted that my NIA teacher Beth Giles is offering her NIA classes via Zoom so I can vary things up! Moving to music is a balm for the soul.

We need to take care of ourselves. This is not something I will sacrifice during this time. Self-care helps me show up for others. I have been able to support friends and family who are struggling via phone calls, walks, emails, etc. Connection is essential for health. What if we tried “virtual presencing” while we do our social distancing? No, it’s not the same. And yes, we need it.

We humans are inherently resilient. It is how our brains evolved thus far. We will get through this together. And our community may grow even stronger as a result.

Stay well, friends.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

New yoga gig – when possible

Hi Friends,

This is shameless self-promotion but it’s fun to share a piece of good news as most of our input channels seem to be focused on the virus situation. I got my first “real” yoga teaching gig close to home, starting when we start being able to meet with people face to face again. Or maybe I will try some online delivery via Zoom! I’m sharing the announcement that got posted on Thursday by the owner of Healing Within Acupuncture & Wellness Studio.

Capture

Sometimes good things happen when we get prepared and then stay attentive to possibilities as they arise. I’m so very grateful, especially at a time when my “main gig” is will be in transition in the next few months.

Ah, life! You never know what is around the next corner! Visualize something good that might come during any challenge. Perhaps it’s just as likely as the doomsday scenarios. 😉

Cheers & stay well,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

P.S. I am offering free 1:1 calls for people who want some extra support during this “corona-palooza” event. No obligation. Just a chance to speak your thoughts and emotions and to receive empathy and encouragement. Schedule a 20-25 minute call with this link.

 

Phones for talking?

Do you remember the days when phones were just phones? 

Did you ever have to “wait in line” for the one phone line at home?

Rotary trim line phone (red)
I don’t think ours was red, but this was the style my family had when I was growing up.

When you were a teenager, maybe you use the phone upstairs, and the cord would get twisted while you had to make sure your younger sister wasn’t listening in on the downstairs line… ah those were the days.

I guess I’m dating myself here! But today I spent time on the phone with a few friends who called me. It was delightful to talk with them, not to bother with email, but to have actual conversations. We did not need any fancy software to talk, and hearing their voices really helped me feel connected.

We had time to talk, and we spoke about the different experiences we’d had since this virus situation started becoming part of the public health recommendations for self-quarantine.

I also had time to talk with my sister on the phone. She’s an R.N. and she’s making preparations in case she needs to self-quarantine after she treats sick patients in the hospital. Our parents are in their 70’s and she is thinking in advance about how to protect them by keeping her distance, though their county has not reported any cases yet.

There is a lost art to a good phone conversation. I prefer phone calls to video calls. I find that I take notice of the tone of voice more, and get less distracted by seeing my image (or someone else’s image) on a video screen. I am actually enjoying this part of our self-enforced exile. I find that when I focus on my gratitude, there is less room for fear and anxiety.

What helps you stay calm in the midst of uncertainty? Have you tried talking with friends on the phone lately? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Wellness Wednesday – your body is the authority

Hello Friends,

I was honored to teach 9 lovely women last Friday for my first of three sessions of my “Desk Chair Yoga” series. Wow, 30 minutes can really fly by fast. But it was delightful and I got lots of great feedback after the class.

There is a waiting list for the next time around (I will likely repeat this series in March) and a colleague asked me more about yoga today. She said she had been intimidated to try it.  She had been overweight for years, and downward dog just didn’t feel good to her wrists or knees. I get it. One reason I became a teacher is that I wanted to be able to modify for those who (like me) may have injuries or challenges where the “average” yoga class is not suitable.

So I began with what I love about yoga: it means union. It is about union of the body and mind, and perhaps the spirit if you are inclined that way. When I introduced my class last Friday I told everyone: your body is the authority on what you do in this class.

Nothing in yoga should cause pain. There may be some discomfort when you are releasing chronically held tension, or a bit of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) as when you do anything new/different with your muscles. However, respecting the principle of “ahimsa” or non-violence is central to yoga. We must have compassion for our bodies, the wisdom encoded within them, and the ways they communicate our needs.

All of this connected with my colleague. Several other colleagues joined the discussion on what they did and did not enjoy about past yoga classes. I am so grateful to share these wonderful practices for calming the nervous system. Remember this:

Your body is the authority. Treat her kindly and as the wise teacher that she is. The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. Let your body lead instead. 😉

Love,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Desk Chair Yoga brand snip

 

 

 

 

Give yourself some love

February is coming soon, friends. You’ve already started to see the stores fill with Valentine chocolate, not so long after many of us made pledges toward some type of new healthy habit for the year.

Actually, I’m not so fond of resolutions in the new year. January in Minnesota is hard. The weather is ugly, and though we are gaining a minute or two of light a day, it’s still dark. We’re all pretty over-spent and broke after the holidays if we weren’t so good at budgeting the year before. And most of us gained 2-3 (or 7-10) pounds since Halloween. Ugh. Those slim jeans don’t feel so great right now.

Well, bears hibernate! Why can’t we?!? Why were my ancestors so good at storing fat? Oh right, so I wouldn’t starve to death. Give gratitude to the ance(stores) who’s superior fat storage (and hunting skills) are the reason I’m here today.

Speaking for myself, and our human species. 😉

heart shaped chocolates
Chocolate does not equal love. No matter how much I love it. Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

February, month of romance rolls around and we feel annoyed because everyone seems to have someone. If we don’t have someone, what are we supposed to do with all this Valentine chocolate except eat it ourselves?!? I’m outing myself as a person who has struggled with eating and body image issues. SO many women struggle with this, the majority of us, as it turns out.

I keep reading about epidemic levels of loneliness in our society. I believe it. We may be the most “connected” in terms of our possible virtual networks, but this can crowd our ability to maintain our close relationships. Being a true friend (or family member) takes time and energy.

Having a handful of really close and healthy relationships (and/or a pet perhaps) outweighs dozens (or hundreds) of online-only friends. But in professional networks where loose ties are also meaningful in terms of opportunities, it is important to maintain a bit of both.

Food is one way some of us fill our spiritual loneliness, as I learned from Geneen Roth. The comfort it provides is  only temporary and gives nothing “back.” Friendships are for mutual benefit.

human hands illustrations
Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

And what do we do when we (introverts) feel overwhelmed and burned out by too much social interaction

We must learn to down-regulate our nervous systems. We must learn how to let go of what does not serve us. We sometimes must turn down social interactions, even with people we (usually) enjoy in order to take care of ourselves.

Our species simply has not evolved emotionally for the level of inter-connectedness we now experience on the planet. We once saw ourselves as isolated tribes. Now, we know that we are in this together. Kill our environment, kill our planet, we all perish. Not pretty.

What yoga offers to me (and others) are tools to balance our nervous systems. We can cope with our feelings of stress, our difficult emotions and even our physical pain. Most of us desperately need daily and weekly doses of quiet internal reflection to center and ground ourselves.  Even if it is for 3-5 minutes a couple of times a day, give yourself that opportunity.

Your loved ones will thank you. You will thank yourself. And the world will be better served if you are generous in caring well for your whole being. 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

This February treat yourself to (1)
I’m piloting this short class at work next month! So excited I can offer this in my department.