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Friday, January 21, 2011

An ill Fated Trip to the Office

On my way to the office today I heard felt a strange sensation in my car and the vehicle veered hard right. I had a great save from wrecking and continued on, but then a car pulled up beside me and honked at me and made a gesture to say a tire was flat.

I pulled into a gas station and headed towards the air pump. I wasn't thinking anything was majorly wrong and I expected to get gas and continue on my way. Little did I know what was in store for me.

As I got close to the air pump my car started veering right again and I could feel that the tire was no longer rotating. I slowed to a stop and got out right in front of the pump. Awaiting my eyes was a smoky heap that was my tire. Some would say its life was in a better place, I would say I was deeply annoyed.

Confused, I called my dad and he informed me to call AAA. I did so and was asked if I had a spare tire. I said, "I'm not sure but am leaning towards no". I was then told a service truck would be there within 10 to 65 minutes.

I wasn't bothered at all up to this point as I figured that my car would be towed and that would be it. Sadly, I was parked in a hotbed of activity.

No later than when I hung up the phone a van pulled up and parked behind me. The driver then motioned with his hands and I put my hands up as if to say, "yes, I know, but don't you see my blinkers on?" The man stormed out of the van and came up to my window. He asked, "What the _____ ______ _____ are you doing? Move your..." This was just prelude to may day.

Even though I told angry van man that I had a flat he didn't believe me. "Where?" he asked. I wanted to say, "You have a one in four chance at guessing right." but instead walked out of my car and showed him my right rear tire which was so flat that it was no longer fully on the rim. Without offering any help at all he turned around and left.

I got back in my car and was instantly flooded with fear. The language that man used was highly offensive and scary. Obviously I didn't want to stay parked there, but I wasn't going to risk further damage to my car.

About 10 minutes later a white car pulled up and once again a driver was oblivious to my hazard lights. She flew her hands about and her passenger got out. Once again I was met with some not so nice wordage, and again I showed the person the flat and their response? "Dude, that sucks. Can you move your car now? Seriously."

I know it was cold, and I know people are sick of the snow, but did I park at the corner of angry and bitter? After two of these experiences I was ready to be towed. In fact I was thinking about just walking home and then thought better of it as it was about four miles and the sign right in front of my car had the prices charged for illegally parked vehicles. Nonetheless I wanted to be anywhere but in my car at that gas station.

Just as another person was about to get out and ask why my car was in front of the free air machine a AAA vehicle pulled up. I was confused as this was not a tow truck. First thing the driver asked was, "Got a spare?" I said that I didn't and he got mad that he was dispatched to the location and asked if I wanted a tow truck. I replied, "That's what I asked for in the first place."

The driver left and came back and said, "Your tow truck will be here between 20 and 80 minutes." Great, another hour of this. I was on the verge of tears and I just didn't care anymore. I went into the gas station and bought an energy drink hoping that it would give me a slimmer of hope. I also wanted the Jalapeno flavored sunflower seeds I enjoy, but my luck on the day held and they were sold out. I tried pumpkin seeds instead and found out they are all but impossible to get out of the shells.

No sooner than I got in my car another person neared my car. At this point in time I had had enough and was no longer looking at my mirrors or those around me. I tried to close my world to just me and the impossible to eat pumpkin seeds. This person though wanted to get my attention and he tapped on the window. I looked and thought that I should just ignore him, but I rolled down the window and he said, "Dude! Now that's a flat." I wanted to respond, "Really, I hadn't noticed." but again I held back. The man continued on, "Let me guess, you don't have a spare? Sucks to be you" and off he went.

Again, I ask, how did so many people need air and why were so many people in just an angry mood. I was coming off of such a wonderful experience in the Southeast part of the state and have never had more confidence in myself and presenting, but now I was being mocked and cursed at. I simply wanted to disappear.

If all that wasn't enough a pickup with a trailer came around the back side of the building. The driver, I could tell, was eyeing me and my car. I did not acknowledge him at all and stayed in my own little world. After several minutes the driver of the pickup honked his horn at me. I finally looked up and made a motion to say my car was dead. This made him more mad and the horn was blasted. I began to shake.

Fury, anger, sadness and any other negative emotion was being felt at this point in time. I was trapped and isolated and knew of no better way to handle the situation. I was now rocking back and forth and truly was upset.

I began to think of ways to describe what was going on as the driver honked his horn and I smiled, briefly, as I thought of my "Alias" concept. I have been yelled at by drivers and parents at race tracks and have had no emotions from it because I am simply an official. In this instance though I was myself and my mind was racing on what bad things people could do to me. These fears became more intense after the passenger of the pickup approached my car.

The man came to my window and I stayed focused on my drink and seeds. After he tapped on the window I had to acknowledge him but the times of me showing people my flat were over. I was not leaving my cocoon.

"What's wrong?" the man asked and at first I thought I had finally landed a sympathetic ear. I explained and then he said, "I'm going to have to have you move your car now." I then explained that the wheel wasn't rolling and this just made him mad, "Do I have to call the police? I'm sure they will ticket you or arrest you. Anyway, if we come back and you are still parked here we will make sure you never have a parking issue again!" If that wasn't bad enough he called me two horrible names as he turned around and went back to the pickup. I know his line was a threat, but to what degree I am unsure.

With each of these people I wanted to simply say I am on the autism spectrum, but in each case I was just a sponge to their slurs and comments. I wonder if they knew the truth if their behaviors would be any different? In any event behavior like this, in my opinion, has no place. It is behavior like this that I fear and mention in my book several times. I was over that, but now once again those fears of other people are renewed.

Mercifully the tow truck arrived 2 hours and 20 minutes after the ordeal began. Seeing it pull up was one of the greatest reliefs I have ever felt. Time flew and before I knew it I was at the car repair place. They said they'd get to it when they could, but they probably would get it done that day so I decided to walk home.

I had no ride to my house and it was only about a mile, but I sort of forgot the fact that it was single digit wind chill with 8 inches of snow on the ground. Thankfully I wore my boots and was making good time all things considered.

Continuing my odd day the next event is something that I can't believe. I was walking along and I made a step and thought I saw something move on the ground. I looked down and I was standing on a mouse's tail. I naturally jumped, almost fell, and the mouse ran away and speeds that were near supersonic. By the time I got home I was hyperventalating, was at a point of not caring, and was chilled to the bone, but at least I was home.

Later the culprit of the flat tire was found out to be a nail. I may have complained about my luck, but I was just three minutes from getting on the interstate and it's one thing to blow out a rear tire and 20, it's a whole different universe doing 55-70mph. While that may be the case I sense a fear of other people once again. Maybe I was parked it an alternate reality at the corner of bitterness and anger, but people as a whole let me down today. I try to keep this blog positive, but right now I am sad and rather scared. Maybe I am overreacting, but then again this ordeal was traumatic for me. I hope this doesn't linger too long and wish I could just concentrate on the impact I had Wednesday night. But I keep hearing it; the honking, the yelling and the, "Dude! Now that's some flat... Sucks to be you!"

5 comments:

  1. It's common in my friends group to hug a friend when he/she is being greeted or comforted... And right now I just feel like hugging you :( I can imagine how you must feel. I've had a day of people yelling at me too today, but not remotely as bad as yours. I hope some friendly face will show up soon to remind you that there are good willing people too. I'm sure you know that, but I mean that someone will make you feel that way too.

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  2. I'm sorry to hear that you had such a terrible experience. Being cold, tired, or in a hurry often brings out the worst in people. Still, that's no excuse for how you were treated.

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  3. I am so sorry for the horrible experience you had! I can't imagine people being so unsympathetic and selfish to their own needs. Not all people are like that, but of course, it's hard to think that way in the middle of being yelled at. I sympathize for you and I'm just glad you finally made it home.

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  4. That would be an incredible challenge for anyone! Considering the stress you were under I'd like to tell you that I think you handled yourself well. You may not feel that way right now, but you did not become the conflict you handled the conflict. Sometimes not reacting (to the craziness of others) is the right choice - you made the right choice. I would have been terrified too.
    I hope you find some comfort in knowing you made it through a very tough situation. Take care Aaron... every situation is a learning experience. Share your story with others and maybe next time they feel "hot" about something and want to vent on others they will think twice.

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  5. hi aaron my little boy has autism he is 3 and a half and i am constantly seeing the best and worst in people sometimes i think people associated with this type of journey have something special like compassion understanding and a much more insightful out look on life something those half witts obviously know nothing about and if they do know someone on the spectrum or someone who is struggling with something in there life then they should be ashameded of themselves . I try to always think of my son and treat people with kindness and compassion as you never know someones struggles. shame on those people that day i have encountered beautiful people in my journey i am embarrased by my fellow man who acts like that .keep you head up i think you are a star you almost have to feel sorry for them those rude people they just dont get it

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