“I sure could do with some water,” a parched Ann Benson casually said as she finished her hour-long presentation to the team.
“I can get you a bottle from the lunchroom!” said an overly eager colleague already rising from her seat. “I was just going to grab some lunch. I can get your favorite branded water — it’s on me!” offered another enthusiastic co-worker as he put on his running shoes, ready to sprint out the door in case Benson said yes. “You can have mine,” another teammate interjected, shoving her lipstick-stained glass in front of Benson’s face.
Benson, who has retinitis pigmentosa and is legally blind, was dizzily swiveling from one person to another, trying to keep up with all the offers. “Thanks, I actually have my own,” she said, grabbing her non-lipstick-stained bottle of non-branded tap water from her bag.
Benson, who was newly hired at the firm, was amazed at just how quickly her colleagues jumped up to help her. Unbeknownst to her, they were vying for Employee of the Year and hoping to check off the box for going above and beyond to help a co-worker in need. Except Benson didn’t need help at all.
“The other new employees don’t get the royal treatment like I do,” she observed. “Does my white cane have a tiara or a ‘Help me’ sign?”
Just last week, Benson asked her cubie mate if she had a pen. Before she could say “Bic,” about 10 pens, ranging from a freebie promo ballpoint pen to a fancy Mont Blanc, instantly showed up on her desk for her choosing. And a few days ago, a scuffle broke out as Benson’s colleagues scrambled over each other to pick up a paper clip she had dropped only a second before.
“Geez, I’m disabled, not desperate and helpless!” thought Benson, tapping her cane to the restroom. She was suddenly accompanied by several colleagues appearing like a Whac-A-Mole game to make sure she didn’t pee in her pants. “I wish they’d skip the assumptions about my disability and just ask me if I need help — I don’t!”
As Benson passed by the Employee of the Year wall of fame, she realized why she was receiving all the unnecessary extra help. A devious smile spread across her face. She could use this to her advantage.
And just like a starting gun at a race, Benson, who was set on finding out who really wanted to be Employee of the Year, kicked off the competition. “Oooh, my neck and shoulders hurt. I could do with a really good massage,” she cried. “Damn, I’m craving a really good wagyu steak for lunch. Oh maaan, I need a babysitter this weekend. I also really hate doing laundry …”