My first-ever job was being a Grocery Stocker at The Kroger Company’s Finneytown store in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. My main difficulty was communicating with my direct supervisor, who I felt never seemed to listen attentively. I had to say nearly everything at least twice, which was extremely frustrating because I felt like I was not heard. On my final day there, without being asked nor asking if it was okay, I decided to keep a written log of which products looked un-sellable and would have to be returned to the stockroom. I thought I would be helping the company by doing so. Perhaps not. I also only had 1/3 can of soda which I could not finish before my break ended, so I took it with me when I returned to work. My other supervisor shouted at the top of his lungs, “WHEN YOU ARE OUT IN THE AISLES, YOU CAN’T HAVE THAT!!!” I didn’t understand what he was referring to. The remainder of the conversation was nothing but an escalating shouting match that got me fired. I feel very strongly that I NEVER have to tolerate that kind of treatment from anyone other than a uniformed law enforcement officer. I became angry, confused, overwhelmed and unable to figure out what to say/do. I won’t yell back now that I’ve matured and learned better coping skills. I am also taking far less medication than I was taking at that time. Now I have learned that I can let my supervisors know beforehand that if I do something wrong, they should break down the situation for me piece by piece so that I can properly understand what I did wrong, and how to do it correctly. I will also let my supervisors know that if I am yelled at, I become overwhelmed and confused, and my first instinct will be to leave the situation, not because I do not care about the job, but because I do not feel comfortable being yelled at and may not be able to respond in the moment.
I liked using my organizational skills in stocking the store shelves. I liked that I almost never had to communicate with anyone. I only recall being approached by a customer ONCE, and was unable to help him find the item he was looking for was located, since that item was not in the aisles I got assigned to stock. Like all my other community jobs between 1999 & 2001, I did not have a job coach accompanying me. Perhaps a job coach could have helped by listening to my wordings and discussing them with me at break times so that I could improve them.
Not knowing answers sometimes stresses me out. Talking while working really slows me down, and even some of my sheltered workshops and enclaves that I worked put me with coworkers who wanted to talk almost constantly while working. I do not enjoy most of my social interactions, including during employment, and wish I could tightly limit them, but I fully acknowledge that is unrealistic.
The only reason I believe I could not do a similar job nowadays is that I live in a border state full of families of 3+ children under five who often run around in circles and squEEEEEEal their little heads off in large stores such as grocery stores. If I was being exposed to that all day everyday, I’d have frequent headaches and be very stressed out. I must clarify that any & all frequently occurring shrill noises give me headaches and stress me out. I need a job that keeps me away from overstimulation and high stress because of certain sounds, if one exists. Most people with whom I discuss this issue just tell me to “face the truth that no such job exists.” Sneha begs to differ, and so do I! Together we are looking for job opportunities that will allow me to do my work without being exposed to certain noises, and we are also working on my coping skills when these loud noises stress me out.