One of the most difficult things about being on the spectrum is the inability to state that something is difficult, or unpleasant. So many times I could have avoided an unpleasant experience if I simply stated that something is difficult for me. Because I have such a hard time stating how I feel I often will come up with ways around an experience without saying anything. I call this the art of evasion.
Yesterday was the first Monday of the month. For some this by itself may be a depressing day, but for me it is the day I need to get creative. You see, at 11AM, the tornado sirens are tested. The sirens themselves are something I try to avoid because the tone of it gets stuck in my head. What does that mean? This isn't like have a song stuck in the head, but rather I can hear the tone of the siren to the perfect pitch and the tone just keeps roaring on. If you don't know what one of these sirens sounds like click on the video below (you may want your audio turned down!)
This story doesn't end with the tone of the sirens as there is a second side to this story. Here at TouchPoint when the monthly test of the sirens is done so too is our tornado drill. This means that everyone in the building has to go the bottom floor and stand in the central hallway. This, for me, is extremely awkward and I fear this time of month.
My fear isn't because I want to avoid anyone in the hall, but rather when 30-45 people get together in a small space and most are talking, well, it isn't an environment I try to get in very often. It is overload in a way because there are so many people and so much talking that, for me, it becomes hard to hear just one person and the conversations rush over me much like a tsunami.
So with all that being so I came up with this creative way to cheat the system in a way. I was so excited when I thought of this because I felt it was a fail proof plan. Sadly though, I can't tell you how many times I have come up with a "fail proof" plan that just seems to make matters worse. Yesterday was no different.
At 10:55 I left the TouchPoint building and made my routine trip to Taco Bell two doors down. This was my fail proof plan as I would be in the order line at Taco Bell when the sirens were tested. This is the essence of my art of evasion as I am out of where I want to avoid without stating it to anybody. To perfect this art form and protect myself I will use these silent strategies. I see it as a win-win because I am not stating what is difficult for me and am evading whatever it is that is difficult. Perhaps not the best of ways, but since communicating my needs is next to impossible this is what I have to do.
So I made my way to Taco Bell where I was shocked to see the order line empty. I did breath a sigh of relief when precious seconds ticked away as no one was manning the cash register, but then someone did and they took my order.
My order came up rather fast and I was in shock; it was 10:59! I had a drink I had brought from home in my office so I didn't buy a drink at Taco Bell which meant I wasn't eating there. I was now torn as I wanted to eat, but the sirens were due to go off at any second. If anything, Taco Bell let me down by their superior service.
Fail proof plans are great when they go off as planned, but I have found that never happens and when they do fail finding plan B is difficult. I truly didn't know what to do. I walked outside and started walking towards TouchPoint right as the sirens began ringing out. This was a dire mistake as the sirens are much louder outside than inside and the tone instantly got stuck in my mind. So much so that for the rest of the day I could still hear the sirens and last night I struggled to get to bed because the noise was so loud in my mind.
I walked, slowly, towards the office in a haze. My fail proof plan had quickly turned into a plan that could not succeed. I was stuck between a siren and a hallway. Outside the sirens were blaring, inside I was sure that the hallway would be full of people.
I decided to walk as slow as possible and I made it to the front doors as the sirens went off. I walked inside, but our test was still going on so into the hallway I went. I tried not to look at anyone because I figured everyone else would know about my master plan to avoid the hallway. This goes to my, "I think therefore you should know" concept (don't know the concept? Read it in my new page entitled, "The Glossary of..." by clicking on the page on the upper right) and as soon as the all clear was given I went as fast as I could without looking odd to my office.
To anyone else my entrance into the building may have seemed like mere chance that I was getting lunch as the sirens went off, but it was a well thought out plan that didn't go according to the plan. This is just one example of all the many things I have to do to manage the world around me.
When I attended school I feared the fire alarms due to the loudness of the alarms. The harshness of the tone is something I still fear, but just like the tornado sirens the klaxon of the fire alarm during a fire drill would get stuck in my head and it would reverberate for hours. I can remember in first grade, after the first fire drill of the year, that I was brought to tears because the noise would not end in my mind. Because of this I developed a fear of Thursdays because that was fire drill day. However, if there was a chance of rain I did not fear it because I quickly learned fire drills were for sunny days, but if it was a clear day I would do everything I could to NOT be in school that day.
In first grade, and the years after, I had no idea why the fire alarm was such a bad experience for me and I often thought I was weak because no one else had the response I did. That, coupled with my inability to say what hurts, led to some great acting performance of illnesses to get out of school. This, perhaps, was my first experience with the art of evasion.
I have learned my lessons on the first Mondays of the month. I now know that no one is at Taco Bell before 11 so instead of leaving at 10:55 I need to leave at 10:58. It will be cutting it close, but I feel if I get out the door at this time I will have a fail proof plan. I mean, how could it fail? Ah, the never-ending game of the art of evasion!