Thursday, December 15, 2016



The woman who sits next to me in choir was telling a story tonight. She went down to the mail room and asked an employee there a question. The question was not directly related to his job. She mocked the fact that she didn't understand her question. She was even more disdainful of the fact that when she explained it, he didn't know the answer.

I inquired if it was possible that he might have been have been unable to give her the answer she required because he had been placed in the job by the local developmental disabilities agency. It was the sort of job that would be a good placement for an intellectually challenged person. She responded that this was possible, but if he was, he should wear a badge or something so she'd know she was working with someone of limited capability. (My more polite words, not hers.)

What? Someone is supposed to wear a badge to indicate their IQ score? I told her there are groups of people who might think that those with so called normal intelligence should do so. She took that as a joke. I was not really joking.

My mother and my older sister were in the high IQ society, Mensa. I took the test at fourteen, because it would have matter of total humiliation if I couldn't make the grade. I passed. As a result, I grew up in Young Mensa. To be considered in the intellectually disabled range generally requires an IQ score about thirty points below average. Most of my friends and I, depending on the test used, had a gap bigger than that between us and the so-called normal population, most likely including the lady sitting next to me in choir. I don't ever recall anyone proposing making the "normals" wear badges because they would be slow to work with, but there was plenty of frustration expressed about having to deal with people who couldn't keep up.

People are who they are. We all have different gifts and different levels of functioning. We don't label people as Alphas or Deltas as Aldus Huxley had his society do in Brave New World. We are all entitled to basic human rights and basic human dignity. No one is proposing that someone at any level be put in a job they are not capable of doing. But whatever the job is, if it is done competently, there is no reason for derision, if they don't have knowledge in other areas.

Sometimes “normal” folks don't have knowledge that would make them better at what they're doing. A quick example, the lady in my story doesn't read music. When the musical director mentions half notes, or rests, or musical terms, I explain them to her. Does she have any plans to learn to read music? Nope. Maybe I should hang a badge on her.