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Jay Lake
Date: 2013-11-21 05:58
Subject: [personal|culture] Me and customer service just lately
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, cars, culture, food, health, personal, portland, radiantlisa, travel
Like most white men of a certain height, class and educational standing, I wander through life in a cloud of largely invisible-to-me privilege. This privilege often expresses itself as good customer service. Sometimes it's earned (for some value of "earned") such as my frequent flyer status, sometimes it's situational. I do make a serious effort to notice this sort of thing, so that, for example, if I walk up to a busy deli counter and am called next, I defer to the people who were waiting before me.

Lately the customer service levels which affect my life have been noticeably compromised in various ways. Yesterday I was talking to Lisa Costello about this. As I said to her, am I more needy due to my recent disabilities? Am I more demanding due to being shorter-tempered and fussier? Or am I really just bumping into increasingly weird problems at a higher rate than usual?

Her response was to comment that I'd become a strange attractor for customer service problems. Which doesn't really answer my question, but was kind of funny. It was helpful to me in confirming that I'm not just experiencing observer bias or enjoying a version of the recency illusion.

I actually think it's a combination of all three of my theories. My recent travel difficulties with wheelchair service wouldn't have occurred in the first place if I didn't need wheelchair service, for example — my recent issues with American Airlines. I am crankier than I used to be, what with the whole dying of cancer thing going on — yesterday's noisy restaurant problem. And some of the problems I've encountered have been categorically weird, outside the usual run of issues — the whole CarMax power-of-attorney thing.

Being white, male and well-spoken didn't really help me with any of these issues, though it certainly helped me resolve them post facto. Being disabled, well...

One more set of things to burn spoons on and have to deal with.

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User: joycemocha
Date: 2013-11-21 16:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oddly enough, you weren't the only one to have recent disability travel issues with airlines. Geri Jeter was quite verbal about a couple of issues she ran into when going to World Fantasy, including the disability lounge for British Airways in Heathrow.

Disability is a silent but very real area of discrimination. I deal with the cognitive performance side of things, and part of my job has been to be that outspoken advocate for parents and children at times while balancing the needs of the other students and staff. The person in between who interprets for both sides. There is open and outright discrimination against students with some form of cognitive disability, whether that is a learning disability, attentional, emotional, or developmental, and it's maintained at the highest levels of the education establishment (reference my recent rantage about the Secretary of Education seeking to force developmentally disabled students to take the same tests as neurotypical students). People just don't get it.
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