Friday, 15 October 2010

The gratitude conundrum

I am grateful.

I am grateful for many things. For the roof over my head, currently protecting me from torrential rain. For good drainage in my part of town, which means I'm not going to end up like the poor souls on the Sunshine Coast with a foot of water gushing through their house after similar rain. For electricity and internet access and running water. For my health - which isn't brilliant but not bad - and for my family, who are all mad but I love them anyway and they, mostly, love me too.

I am grateful for my diagnosis, which brought the reassurance that I'm not mad or defective or bloody-minded, that there's a reason I am as I am.

I am grateful for the opportunity to work in a meaningful job and earn enough money to keep said roof over my head.  I am grateful for those at work who take my condition seriously.

But while I'm grateful, I'm not going to grovel my thanks on bended knee. Because what I have is wonderful, but it's not more than I deserve.
sunrise with text reading what I have is wonderful, but it's no more than I deserve

This week at work there was a conversation, utterly unrelated to Aspergers, which left me with the feeling that I was somehow not expressing sufficient gratitude for the accommodations made for me. I've turned it over in my head from time to time over the last few days, trying to work out exactly what it is that's annoying me.

Part of it is that the accommodations made for me have been small - nothing compared to the complete rebuilding of both entrances we'd have to do to make the place wheelchair accessible, for instance. But a bigger part of it is the implication that those accommodations have been made out of the goodness of individuals'  hearts. No, actually. It's the law.

The law says one must made reasonable accommodations for a staff member with a disability, and it's hard to argue that "please don't talk to me when I'm on the phone. Could you write me a note instead?" is unreasonable.

So while I am grateful for my (mostly) accepting workplace, I don't think I should have to 'prove' my gratitude.

Ah, here at last, after much navel gazing, is the crux of the issue: we were having an argument. Nothing serious, nothing remotely related to Aspergers, just a fairly standard disagreement between two professionals. But the unspoken vibe was "you're very presence inconveniences us, so why are you causing more trouble by voicing an opinion? Sit down, shut up and be grateful."

Sod that. Accommodating a staff member with a disability doesn't mean that staff member owes you a favour.

I am grateful for many, many things. But that doesn't mean you've got one over on me.