A few weeks ago my brother and I ate lunch together and we got around to discussing various things, including the unemployment rate and the reported effect it supposedly has on businesses with which we were somewhat familiar. The conversation morphed into talking about how some people (not all) of all ages apply and get Social Security Disability benefits but on the surface do not
appear to be (in our opinion) truly disabled, being able to work, apparently, at a sedentary, non-physically demanding job. According to the media’s surveys and polls, this seems to be something of a prevailing sentiment with some around the country, whether or not it is factual or a misperception, notwithstanding one’s political persuasion. We each knew off-hand three people, none patients, who fit this description.
But Jeffrey (we’ll call him Jeffrey) was not one of them. Jeffrey recently saw a physician for a pre-employment exam. He is 29 years old and was going through the services of the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services in an attempt to obtain employment. Jeffrey was previously employed as a data entry clerk as well as a cashier at his previous job but was let go because of staff downsizing due to the recession. Unmarried, he moved to Mississippi last year to be with, help out, and live
with his mother who is employed as a housekeeper for a local casino. For the most part, Jeffrey is in stable health, and claims as much, to his credit. His past medical history, however, could easily give him good reason to lay claim to a disability check instead of aggressively seeking work which he was in the process of doing and which he would also share in the content of his answers during an interview. He was more or less on a mission and determined to obtain gainful employment.
He was born with a “bump” on his spine, which he says disappeared in his early childhood but nevertheless as a result has suffered with chronic back problems all his life. More importantly, and even more potentially disabling, is that he was born severely bowlegged. So much so that as a toddler it hampered his ability to walk, being barely able to stand on the sides of his feet, wobbly as he were. He underwent a series of operations on both legs that surgically corrected this disabling birth problem and he has for the most part been able to support himself as an adult, in spite of chronic leg pains and his short stature. The scars that run down the entire length of both legs are evidence and validation of this past medical problem.
When asked what type of employment he would be seeking he claimed he was open to all kinds. It didn’t matter to him. What mattered to him was that he find work and, like most everyone else, support himself, pay his bills and hopefully help his mother out a little. He appeared much older than his 29 years, giving
one perhaps the impression that he had had his fair share of stress encounters over the years. He’d never smoked nor drank alcohol.
Purportedly, the interview questions asked of Jeffrey to determine what limitations might be necessary in permitting him to work safely and without exposing him unnecessarily to injury, caused Jeffrey to respond affirmatively to all job-related situations, conditions and demands regardless of his apparent physical ability, or lack of it, in being able to perform such tasks. It was
obvious that he opposed and refused to accept any limitations that might reduce his chance of getting a job. Such was Jeffrey’s obvious determination, in spite of his physical infirmities, to eliminate any obstacle to becoming employed as soon as he could.
And this, that is Jeffrey’s attitude, is what stands out in stark contrast to the prevailing perception across the country, whether it’s factual or not, that more and more people are seeking welfare checks instead of carrying their own weight and paying their own way.
A stark contrast, indeed. For Jeffrey moved to Mississippi from Jamaica. He came here last year, obtained his Permanent Resident Card in April of this year, and is a legal immigrant who is currently going through the required legal hoops to obtain his U.S. citizenship.
Believe it or not, he also has disproportionate dwarfism.