I landed my first full time job when I was just eighteen. It was only for the summer, but still, I thought I was pretty cool…until the night before my first day when I remembered that I DO NOT eat like a normal human being. I have all sorts of health issues that make the “traditional” three meals a day life impractical. Suddenly, the simple idea of only being able to eat one large meal in the middle of the day at a cafeteria became this giant obstacle. But, I decided to suck it up and even thought that I would be able to “train” my body.
The first day, I didn’t eat breakfast. Why? I can’t. If I put ANYTHING into my body in the morning, I get sick within an hour. But Author, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Surely there must be something you can eat! Nope, sorry, I know my body better than you do. I seriously cannot eat anything. So on that very first day, I shoved a granola bar in my bag and ate it during a bathroom break around 10:30. After that, I was STARVING and barely made it to my lunch break. Okay, so clearly THAT wasn’t going to work.
The second day, I decided to make myself the blandest breakfast ever. I had one scrambled egg (no milk, no cheese) and a piece of toast (no butter) with a glass of water. I ate about twenty minutes before I left my apartment. Everything seemed fine…until I got to work. I wasn’t even able to log into my computer before I ran to the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later, I slunk back to my desk, only to have to return to the bathroom ten minutes after that. My boss came to check on me and I told her I wasn’t feeling well, so she sent me home. MY SECOND DAY.
The third day, I decided to pack some snacks and ask my boss to make some accommodations for me (and my digestive tract). Awhile back I posted about disclosing disability-related issues. I don’t know if it was just because this was the first time I was telling somebody that wasn’t a relative or friend or because it was a “bathroom” issue, but I was so embarrassed to have to ask my boss for an accommodation!
I went to work and went to my boss’ office when she arrived. The first thing she did was ask if I was feeling better. Why yes actually, about an hour or two after you sent me home, I was able to leave the confines of my bathroom, much to my roommate’s joy. Thanks for asking! (Note – I did not actually say that.) I explained the reason that I had gotten sick at work was because I had eaten before coming in. “Oh, did you eat something that didn’t agree with you?” No, I just ate. Period. That’s all it takes. I explained that if I ate early in the morning, I get really sick to my stomach but I can’t wait until my lunch break to eat. The only options were for me to either wake up at 4 am so by the time 7:30 rolls around, my stomach feels like accepting gifts of bagels and juice OR for me to be able to bring something and eat at my desk while working. As I was explaining this, I went into crazy girl babble mode and swore to never bring anything that smelled or could make a mess. My boss looked at me like I had eight heads (because I had all my crazy out there) and then said that would be fine. End of conversation.
For the rest of the summer, I brought both my breakfast AND lunch to work. I ate breakfast at my desk around 10:30. It usually consisted of a bagel or some fruit. This made it much easier to wait for lunch and I was happier and more productive person now that I wasn’t starving or dying.
Recently I’ve been watching the show Pramface on Hulu. It’s a British sitcom about teen parents. In one episode, the young mom gets a job at an office and has to sit at the front desk. Since she JUST had her baby, she needed to go pump at some point during the day, but was afraid to do so because she had not told her supervisor that she was a mom and didn’t want to be caught. It turns into a funny, although totally embarrassing situation, but she becomes MUCH closer with her supervisor after her supervisor finds out that she is a young mother.
What does that have to do with anything? It brings me to the main point of this post. If you need something, don’t be afraid to ask! Most people are nice and accommodating and will understand simple requests due to some sort of life circumstance.