Learning to fly on your own in life can be a real challenge, especially if you have a disability. So you would think that finding a job for someone like me would be close to impossible. Well, you would be wrong. I recently got a job at The Fine Line thanks to a team of hard working supporters at JJ’s List, a helpful job coach, my family and my hard working attitude interning at the Planet Access Company store in Chicago’s Lincoln Square. A coworker was talking with her friend Kim Preis the owner of The Fine Line and Kim said that she was looking for someone to help out around the place. My name came up in conversation as a potential employee.
When my co-worker brought it to my attention, at first, I was surprised because that type of situation has never happened to me before. Then after a while of letting the idea and job lead wash over me, it started to sink in and I got excited. I did some research and found out The Fine Line is a tile place a few blocks down from Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. So I would be working and commuting with the other city workers.
Like any job, I was called in for an interview. Armed with a copy of my resume, some questions in mind and with the assistance of my job coach the interview went well. Normally, you would get a call back to say you got the job, but I got the job right on the spot.
Before the first day I wanted to get the feel of getting to and from The Fine Line myself, so I made use of the CTA’s Travel Training program. This would help me feel comfortable with using the EL. I would be taking the Brown Line from my home near Wrigleyville to Merchandise Mart and then walking from there to my job.
My first day began the last week of March and aside from packing a snack, I made sure to get there early. When I got there, I was introduced around to the other co-workers and then they showed me what my main job would be, cutting the tile samples. On the backs of the small tile sheets is a wire mesh that holds the tile together. My job is to cut and set up the newly free tile samples to be displayed for customers to take home.
The tile samples are set on pieces of cardboard and on the back is a label saying what the tile is. First I tried it myself with some supervision. Then after I felt comfortable they left me to work on my own. Some of the other tasks that I was given were cleaning, making sure they are well stocked on certain supplies, and running errands at Merchandise Mart. The day came to an end and after talking with the co-workers and my boss, I took off for the brown line. I had a successful first day and am excited to continue.
It’s hard to fly by yourself in life even without a disability. Sometimes you just need some extra help. Like me, I may have a disability, but that doesn’t stop me from having a job or a good life. It’s like those lines from the Foo Fighters song Learn to Fly “[…] fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone. Try to make this life my own.” So what if people with disabilities need a little extra help? Like me, they can “Learn to Fly.”
This blog was written by Adrian, one of our No Boundaries participants. NO BOUNDARIES – Train for Work, Train for Life, a Search, Inc. enterprise, is a “first-of-its-kind” experiential on-land and on-line workplace training center for individuals with disabilities.