Thursday, August 26, 2010
Throughout my eight years working in the Audience Services department here at KPBS, many callers have asked me, "What is KPBS' mission statement? What are your guiding principles?" It seems like such a simple question, but it's also a very important one. You can read the whole thing by clicking here, but this is my favorite part: "KPBS staff are committed to creating engaging and appealing programs and services, and through their endeavors, reflect the values of civility, respect, integrity and individual responsibility."
I first witnessed these principles in action in October 2002. Earlier that year, I was laid off from a job that I held for seven years. Day after day, week after week, month after month I applied for job after job -- 150 in total. Every time a company called me to set up an interview the same thing happened...They told me how impressed they were with my resume, and how much they were looking forward to meeting with me.
Sadly, their enthusiasm turned to skepticism as soon as they saw me walk into the building -- swinging my white cane from side to side. In their minds, my blindness instantly negated all the job experience on my resume. What happened next felt more like a cross examination than an interview with one degrading, humiliating and utterly ridiculous question after another: "Sometimes we put sticky notes on each others' desks. How are you going to be able to do this job if you can't read a sticky note?"
After 14 such interviews, I was understandably discouraged, and was beginning to wonder if anyone would ever hire me again. When I scheduled an interview for the Audience and Member Services Representative position at KPBS I remember thinking to myself, "If any organization is going to give me a fair shot based solely on my qualifications, without my blindness being a factor, it has to be my local public broadcasting station." Well, it turned out I was right. It was the first and only interview that didn't contain a single absurd question.
The civility, respect and integrity KPBS demonstrated that day really resonated with me; so when they hired me I was ecstatic. Every day that I walk through the KPBS building -- swinging my white cane from side to side, I am reminded of our guiding principles in action.