‘Isn’t Life Hard Enough for You?’ Coworkers Ask Paralympian

It was Monday morning, which meant the usual “What did you do this past weekend? Mine was waaaay more exciting than yours” B.S. banter among coworkers in the break room.

“You did what this weekend?” Mary Price asked Jennifer Markson. “Isn’t your life hard enough? You’re wheelchair-bound! You shouldn’t move around so much, plus you look exhausted and in so much pain. Take care of your poor body!” Price bit into her third caramel doughnut, shaking her head in disbelief at Markson.

It would be inhuman not to be exhausted and in pain. Markson, who has spina bifida, had just completed her sixth Ironman — a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run — the day before and was simultaneously training to compete in Nordic Skiing at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing. “It’s OK, I’ll rest and recover,” said Markson, taking a bite of her apple. “Competing makes me happy. You should try it sometime.”

Ignoring her comments, Jonathon Meyers chimed in, “It’s torturous enough for you being disabled. Why put yourself through such grueling sports? Leave it to able-bodied people. They’re stronger.”

“Can’t you just do the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot once a year like the rest of us regular people?” added Mark Smith, scratching his beer belly. “Or stay home and watch telly all day like other disabled people? I’m not disabled and I even like doing that.”

There are some people you educate and others you just walk away from, thought Markson. “These people are wearing me out more than all my races and competitions put together,” she mumbled to herself. “If I had a point for every dumb comment I hear, I’d win the gold hands-down in March!”

Biting her tongue and resisting an HR-worthy assault on the trio, she left the cacophony of braying asses and made her way to her desk where she immediately started searching for a work-from-home job.

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