E-Community Activity: Todd and an Awkward Moment

Send this message to the e-community of protégés and mentors.

Subject: Todd and an awkward moment

Read the following story about Todd, and/or view the video Taking Charge 1: Three Stories of Success and Self-Determination. Then tell the group how you have handled an awkward situation.

As young Todd faced his prospective employer that chilly day in November, he thought about the events and circumstances that led to this moment. When he graduated with an A.A. degree in computer programming, Todd networked with family, friends, and school contacts to find leads to a job. When these attempts proved fruitless, he sent his resume to all the employers he could find who were advertising for Visual BASIC computer programmers. Eventually, he was called for an interview. Todd chose not to include in his cover letter the fact that he used a wheelchair.

Todd arrived for the interview at the appointed time and had his personal attendant knock on the office door. The large man who answered the door gazed at Todd and asked, "May I help you?" Todd replied, "I'm here for the job interview." The man paused a moment, and then he invited Todd into his office, awkwardly rearranging the furniture to accommodate Todd's wheelchair. The man's first question to Todd was "How did you become disabled?" Although Todd knew that this was not an appropriate question for an employer to ask, he chose to answer it. Eventually, he asked, "How do you use a computer?" By the end of the interview, they were discussing Todd's skills and credentials, not his disability. Todd was offered the position before he left. At eighteen years old, Todd had just landed his first job.

Now Todd lives in his own apartment across the street from his employer and 45 miles from his parents. He works full-time as a computer programmer. He has good friends and an active social life. Though this may seem standard for the average college graduate, these achievements take on a different dimension for a young man who is completely paralyzed below his shoulders.