My "Frankenstein" quip and how I ended up in the Star Tribune

Employers who look beyond disabilities find dedicated, loyal workers.


Jim Peet, 65, a senior IT business consultant at Wells Fargo, injured himself in a trampoline accident in 1987 and needs crutches to walk.

I walk like Frankenstein,” Peet quipped.

He can’t imagine not working and plans to volunteer to stay active after retirement. “Work is affirming because you’ve got to get dressed, you work with your work colleagues, some of whom become friends, and you get paid,” Peet said. “You don’t go stale.”

Pete also says he is lucky because he was hired by a supervisor who overlooked his limited IT background “and took a chance on me.”

    • The Frankenstein quip was not planned. The interviewer asked me in the phone interview if I used a wheelchair. I said something like I'm an incomplete quad and my legs are very weak so I walk like Frankenstein
    • The first to use the Frankenstein allusion was a young female aid at Craig Hospital. My paralysis was fading away and I had that day (at Craig Hospital) had a consultation with my neurologist. He said that my prognosis is that I would ambulate. I didn't know what ambulate meant and he said I would walk with assistance. The ambulate prognosis was in my chart and my evening aid (who would prepare me for bed and other care details) picked up on this. That evening or shortly afterwards as I was all tucked in and ready for sleep she said: "you're going to walk like Frankenstein". She had such a great sense of humor and as she said this she held her hands out in front and walked in a stilted Frankenstein-like way. It brings a smile to my heart whenever I think of her
    • How the interview came about. It's somewhat convoluted and I almost have forgotten the details. Back in the Spring I was asked to speak at an event. I actually forgot the event name. But in the audience were representatives of major Twin-Cities' companies: General Mills, 3M, Cargill, et cetera. I gave a 15 minute speech on being handicapped in the workforce
    • Much later someone who had been in the audience contacted Wells Fargo and asked if I would be available for a Star Tribune article. Corporate communication contacted me.
    • I completed a written biography and then for months nothing happened until last week
    • The author of the article contacted me last Tuesday to ask when I could be phone interviewed. I said the next day. That interview was about half an hour. He asked if the Star Tribune photographer could come by and take some photos. I agreed
    • As it turns out having one's photo taken at Wells Fargo is no simple thing. I am in a highly secure building. My manager and my manager's manager had to be contacted. Local HR was involved. And Corporate Communications had to be involved.
    • The photo shoot was arranged for Thursday morning. I cleaned up my desk. I got my 20 year award out of the box and displayed it prominently on my desk. (It did not make the photos!). Corporate Communications had to accompany the photographer. My screen could not be photographed. Also my desk was completely clear of everything except my 20 year award.
    • I estimate that 100 photos were taken. The photographer asked to take my picture walking. I walked over to the photocopier and he followed me. I said "don't take a picture of my butt". He moved to the front. At the copier I absentmindedly punched in a number and the photocopier spit out dozens of blank pages.
    • There was much that I had in the biography and the interview that did not make the article:
      • Being a  protestant minister for 16 years
      • Going back to college to get a BS in computer science
      • The name of the hiring manager - Jeff Williams
      • Being in Toastmasters
      • Wanting to volunteer at my church after retirement
      • An anecdote about the elevator buttons being changed from concave to convex to help a handicapped friend be able to push the elevator buttons
      • But the unplanned Frankenstein quote made it
    • Actually Frankenstein (the Boris Karloff character) walked better than I do. But I walk and I am OK with that

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