Struggling to keep your job while living with a chronic health condition?
Then you might want to tune into Downton Abbey, Season 1, to see what to do and what to avoid .
Maybe they should make a series called, “Working and Living With Chronic Health Problems”? I’m doubtful the scriptwriters set out with this intention but they really nailed it with Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Bates.
Let’s start with Bates. While interviewing for his new job as Valet to Lord Grantham, he really wants the job. Grantham, who seems eager to hire him (they’d been in the Boer War together), expresses worry whether Bates can manage it. Bates replies with confidence that he can. (Meanwhile, as Bates stands there looking perfectly normal, we viewers haven’t a clear what they’re referring to.)
But when his ‘colleagues’, the rest of the staff, grumble that Bates won’t be able to carry his weight, we realize all isn’t as it looks. When Bates falls, it becomes clear. Bates has one very bad leg. As he continues to drop platters and have trouble, the others are grumbling louder.
So, how does Bates handle this? With some wise moves:
- He says in front of all the staff that he can do his job and they don’t have to worry that he can’t. Whether they believe him or not, he tells them he’s not expecting them to work harder for his sake. He’s also telling them he knows what he faces and can manage.
- When he falls in a very public moment, he accepts help getting up. But he keeps his feelings in check so others don’t have to feel more uncomfortable.
- He is exceedingly kind and respectful to others, particularly staff who are mistreated poorly by others,. This earns him allegiance and loyalty (except from Thomas who resented Bates got the job over him – but clearly he’s just a nasty piece of work.)