As a walking talking but not obviously disabled person, I was gratified to hear, to see, and to experience the wonders of a talk by Dr. Richard Pimentel yesterday at the Pacific Gas and Electric Auditorium at 71 Beale Street in San Francisco. “Shattering Myths About Disabled Persons in the Workplace” was the title. It could have been more generic. Dr. Pimentel and the sign language interpreters could not have. When they made this man, they may have broken the mold. He rocked the house, with about 400 of us in attendance at this free noontime talk. He is a great storyteller, a dynamic speaker, and a fantastic promoter of civil rights.
San Francisco is a big juicy city and we have everything there. You can get a lap dance around the corner from where I work at 7th street, right on Market street at lunch time. Probably only takes a few minutes depending on your wallet and your interest, though I have never had one … I’m sure its great if that is your cup of tea. Speaking of tea you can also have many types of rare and choice Chinese tea in the same city, just about a mile south, might perk you up more than a lap dance, at a classic tea house in Chinatown. Or you could go to the PG&E building, arrive by noon, and enter the auditorium (after getting through registration, security, the guides, and the gates), and if you show up you could get some of the wrinkles ironed out of your brain and some education about affirmative action.
Why would you hire a disabled person? To give them a chance. Why would you keep hiring disabled people? Because the person you hired the first time you did it was such a fantastic employee that you decided that you were never going to rule out a potential candidate before interviewing them thoroughly and reviewing the possibilities and deciding whether or not this looked like the most promising choice, even if that candidate rolled to work instead of walking, even if they could not hear you when you called unless their assistive technology was pointed at you properly, even if they had a disability you could not recognize. Even if.
The speaker, Dr. Pimentel, addressed us all as human beings. That’s what we are; that’s our common ground. We come in as human beings, we leave as human beings. We want work, we want play, we want food and love and shelter just like anyone else. Some of us are veterans, some are wounded warriors, some of us wear our warrior marks underneath or from earlier battles.
All of us need meaningful work so that we can help build this country collectively into the greatest thing it has ever been. Do you not agree?
Thank you Dr. Pimentel for considering the consequences of addressing us truthfully about your journey and deciding that from the time from when they dropped that bomb on the beer bunker of the 101st airborne in Vietnam in 1966 until now… you have learned many valuable truths. Thank you for deciding that the story was worth telling, that in spite of the physical harm you suffered during your service that you have learned a few things that we could all benefit from. It was a great honor to hear you. It is a short ride from 7th and Market to the PG&E tower, and highly worth it. We were all made richer by sharing your experiences. You rock!
Michael Pachovis once said (when talking about how the disabled community works, specifically about how crips.net could help the Ashkenaz after it was threatened with closure), that many of us are involved in high tech and many of us support each other. That was an understatement, but it is enough to alert everyone: we are here, we are not going away, and we won’t be persuaded to stay inside and not live the same lives you are all trying to live. Not now, not yesterday, and not tomorrow.
Thank you also for helping me to be a better and braver civil rights advocate. You set a great example, and you are someone we all could learn from.
Thank you Dr. Pimentel for reminding all the hiring managers and staff and friends of PG&E that this is the truth, and that the truth is beautiful, and that it is also much stranger than fiction. Every time.