Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I smiled as he talked

July 16, 1987

I went downtown yesterday on my way to Job Service so that I might find a job. I waited quite a while on the bench at 7-11 down the street. A garbage truck pulled up across the street, two big men got out of the truck both wearing white work gloves and preceded to dig in the garbage - they carried what they could find over to the truck and threw it in. They kept looking at me. I wondered why. They both climbed onto the back, signaling to the driver that it was OK to go and as they drove off they kept looking back at me.

A short while later, I noticed a red truck on the driveway where the garbage truck had stopped. I could not remember if the truck had been there earlier or if it had just arrived. I heard a funny buzzing like a kid's dirt bike and looked at the intersection. A man driving a lawnmower with a canopy cruised through and into the 7-11. Later, I saw him return from whence he came.

The man who had arrived at the bus stop at approximately the same time as I and who had been standing the whole time - looking for buses - decided it was time to sit down. Soon another woman joined us. I knew the bus would come soon now - she looked like she knew what she was doing. I again looked at my money - 2 quarters, one a little older than the other and 2 nickles. I had arranged them so all the heads were up and each at a slight angle to each other. I mixed them up again and as I was arranging them once more when the bus arrived.

I stood up as the two other people quickly formed a line. I decided to wait, seeing that on past experience, drivers don't usually stop at the head of the line, leaving everyone tense and nervous. I boarded the bus last.

At Lake Street, I looked up to discover that I was in an empty bus - not empty of people but empty of all those signs and advertisements you find in all buses. I remembered we were on a white bus - not one of the new white buses but a red one that had been painted white for whatever reason. Oh, so this is what these are like. It was like a zero-gravity chamber.

At the job service counter, I asked about what I ought to do - signed my name on a sheet of paper and began looking over the jobs available for the day in the microfiche.

Soon we were all called to our meeting to be oriented. The man who performed our orientation sounded like a game show host - he was so god-damned enthusiastic about the opportunities he had to offer - I smiled as he talked.

After filling out an application, everyone was assigned a counselor. I was the last one left in the room. The man I was stuck with was very, extremely rude. Not outright but I could sense it. I went back to the microfiche to look for an orderly job. Found one I was looking for and saw a different, nicer counselor who referred me to the job. I sent a cover letter and a resume this morning.

Later I went to the dentist with Aja. He almost killed me. Aja didn't have any cavities.

It seems that this is a laundry list of descriptions of the way My Asperger's presents itself.

I stare at people and wonder why they stare back. It never occurred to me that they stared back  because I stare at them. 

I play with small objects.
Arrange things, anything. Coins, toys, papers, small bits of lint. It is soothing to arrange and rearrange. When I was a child, my favorite pass time was building Lego houses for my bus babies (Fisher Price Little People - I call them bus babies - because they came in a bus...). I would build the same house again, over and over, with minor changes. Always the same. Sometimes I would build hospitals and hotels. Each would have the middle corridor and matching rooms and either a nurse's station (in the middle) or a check in counter (near the door). I love to play by arranging, and repositioning.

I mind read. My underdeveloped Theory of Mind (ToM) skills made me believe that I knew the intentions of of others. I knew the bus driver didn't stop at the head of the line because it amused him - a little game to play to make the day go by faster. Well, if I were a bus driver, that's what I would do. 

I stick to the edges. If I am in a group, I like to be on the edge. I prefer the front, so I can pretend there isn't anyone else. If I can't be in front, I like to stick to the edges of a group. In a line, I prefer to be first or last. If the line is very long, I will leave plenty of room between myself and the person in front of me, hoping the person behind me follows suit. I hate to be near people I don't know. I don't want them to touch me. It scares me. I avoid crowded places.

I am really rude. My rudeness brings out the worst in people. "The man I was stuck with was very, extremely rude." People I interact with, that I want something from - I am quick to judge. I immediately like or dislike people. I treat people who I immediately distrust/dislike as if they are the lowest order of life forms on earth. I am rude. I always thought it was THEM - not me. I am trying really hard to not be rude to people. It is extremely difficult. Sometimes something snaps inside me - the Aspergian - and I sneer at you, I roll my eyes, I discount your words, I wave you away with my hand.

I feel pain. Actually, I feel my whole body. Every part of it. All the time. I feel my clothes. I feel the hairs on the back of my neck. I feel my eyelids touch when I blink. I feel my insides, my bones, my muscles, my joints. I can pinpoint in my belly where the adrenalin enters my body. I feel when hormones are released that cause excitement, sadness, anxiety. All of my "emotions" are physical feelings. I used to have a high tolerance for pain when I trusted who was inflicting or caring for my pain, but at some point - I know I could look up the date - I stopped having any tolerance for pain. A sore thumb becomes all I think. Pain. I can't take pain.

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