Monday, December 22, 2014

Flipping a Disadvantage?

First, my apologies for being an absentee blogger for the past month. I have lately discovered that I only have x amount of words that my spotted brain can organize and spit forth each day. And for the last few weeks, I have been word-vomiting out a novel.

My good friend Dr. D had challenged me to take part in NaNoWriMo 2014. Every November, writers and wanna-be novelists of the world take part in National Novel Writing Month, with the challenge to commit 50,000 words during the 4-week period. Dr. D and I joined the community and started our frantic typing.

So I dumped 53,675 words into a first draft. And now, I am taking the painful next step of the self edit and rewrite. It feels a bit like cleaning up after a New Year's Eve party that you only somewhat remember the events. I keep finding the literary equivalent of empty beer bottles in the laundry hamper and the occasional carpet stain of mysterious origin. When that occurs, it is best just to clean it up without investigating the source too closely.

I will keep you all posted on any progress on the book. I can't promise that this novel will be any good. But I will bet anything I own it will be 8.7 times better than Twilight. Of course, so is reading the dictionary aloud...

So that is both my excuse and apology for my blog neglect.

Meanwhile, another interesting thing is happening. I'm job hunting.

The company that I was working for was acquired by another, and that left me out of a job. Such is life with a career in the technology world. I'm not worried (yet), but I have been taking on the tedious task of filling out job applications. And that is how I am encountering the EEOC question, asking if I am disabled.

The US Department of Labor asks that employers collect Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data. It is an affirmative action plan encouraging companies to collect certain information from employees and applicants, such as race, ethnicity, sex, and veteran status.

And disability status.

By the federal government's definitions of disability, I have one. MS is listed as one of the medical conditions that qualify as a disability.

So do I list myself as having a disability? I am of two thoughts. The first is that listing myself as disabled would hurt my chances. I know, I know. Companies are not legally allowed to make hiring decisions based on the voluntary disclosure of EEOC data. But I am realistically cynical. Companies are not legally allowed to do a lot of things they do. See also: Enron, the mortgage crisis, pretty much anyone working on Wall Street.

My other thought is that maybe disclosing my "disability" would put me at the top of the applicant pile. There are federal tax benefits to hiring minorities and protected classes. And I would be all about that, except that I don't really feel disabled. Some people are living with disabilities that make huge and challenging impacts on both their personal and professional lives. I am not sure that I can claim that my MS should be put in that same category. At this point, the impact of MS on my professional life has been limited to a few sick days and having to work on my laptop while getting a steroids infusion.

So, what should I do? Do I check the box that discloses to future employers that I have a disability? Even without the ability to inform that employer what that disability is and the level of impact it has on my job performance?

For the record, I have to admit that if MS was a diagnosis that would bump me up in the line for the Indian Jones ride at Disneyland, I would happily claim it. There has to be some upside to all this bullshit.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one. Should I check that disability box?