Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"reasonable accommodations"

I am considering asking for some "accommodations" at work and I can't tell you how weird/embarrassed/awkward that makes me feel.

I'm a person who insists upon and enjoys a very DIY life, who takes pride in not needing help (to a fault). I have a habit of trying to be very low-maintenance...I don't like to be "that person" who needs pansy shit like painkillers or forklifts. I will push through the pain and I will lift the world onto my shoulders with my own two hands (lifting with my legs, not with my back thank you) if it kills me. In other words I'm a Navy Seal in a tiny woman's body...and I hate to admit when I can't do something for myself and if I can't do it for myself then it's almost not worth doing. Someone should warn my stepchildren NOW that I'm going to be a massive pain in their asses when I'm 85 and they try to take my drivers license away.

At my office, I share an office with two other people. Herein lies the problem, truly. One office mate needs the overhead fluorescent light on at all times. Additionally, there are phones ringing, people coming in and out, meetings at people's desks, and conference calls happening throughout the day. And...there's a little emergency manufacturing that goes on in the office.

Aside from the emergency manufacturing, there's not really anything unreasonable happening here, it's just the things people do in the natural course of a business day. I am not annoyed with my office mate that needs the light on, I mean she needs to be able to see, right? People make phone calls, that's not strange.

None of it is strange but all of it is creating a stressful workspace for me. If I had to pick a "worst" I would say the overhead fluorescent light, which has always been something I can't tolerate. I actually can't tolerate overhead light of any kind for very long. A while ago, I actually went upstairs and got my office mate a desk light (which sounds like a dick thing to do but I assure you in context it made sense...she had noticed that she's the only one that turns the light on and felt badly that she was bothering us so I had asked her if she thought a desk light would be helpful, because I don't expect everybody else to love working in the dark). But she hardly ever used it and the fluorescents would end up on anyway. So I ended up with it back on my desk because at least then I can create some contrast between the overhead light and my desk so my soul doesn't deteriorate quite so quickly.

I've been here nearly a year and I have tried to make the office work for me. We tried problem-solving the light issue...I brought headphones so that I can listen to music instead of other people...but truly it's often inadequate to drown out the sounds. I also can't drown out the sights. 

I'm thinking of asking if I can simply move my work space. I don't know where to though, because there's not a lot of space here. I don't even care if they stick me in a closet, I just need it dark and quiet.

I'm thinking about how to ask...and thinking that this is a swell thing to talk over with my therapist this week. I also need to think over how to react effectively if I meet with a little resistance...as in not crying in humiliation, since I hate asking for help and it embarrasses me to think about asking.


  1. Ha... I've never thought of a forklift as pansy shit!

    You can actually buy fluorescent lights with different filters. It's possible the HORRIBLE day light x 100 lights are just too intense for you. I'm not sure if your employer would supply them but you may want to look up options like this before you talk to your boss so they know how serious you are about it. Or is it possible to wear slightly-tinted glasses at work (if you don't mind being "That Girl")?

    I've had to deal with similar situations at work (I have multiple learning disabilities and ADHD-like symptoms because of a ridiculously slow processing speed). So, I've always just been completely straight forward with my issues with my boss. She and my fellow lab mates have always been incredibly supportive. I think it helps being honest and straight forward.

    Good luck

  2. I didn't know that there were varied lighting options within the fluorescent universe...see, just more proof that a nuanced approach to life, one that accounts for shades of grey, is generally the way to go ;)

    I think you're right, being educated on the topic makes it easier to be taken seriously, but I think another happy effect is the confidence giving factor.

    As for glasses I'm really "that girl" here anyway for many reasons so I guess it wouldn't be that much of a stretch. I have been avoiding getting prescription sunglasses for years, this might be the time, lol.

    Thanks for writing Collin :) I think most of my anxiety on this issue comes from having never done this before...I'm actually still "thinking" about it...but it's good to hear advice from someone who has "been there".