Since I moved last October I have quit going to the grocery store in the early mornings to pick up carrots for breakfast. What has replaced it has been the daily trip to a gas station to pick a protein bar. Nothing of any relevance has ever happened on these trips because the clerk who has always been there is a quiet one and he runs the store with an almost alarming effenciceny. So yes, nothing ever worth writing has ever happened up until my experience this morning.
This morning there was the same new clerk as yesterday. Yesterday he was on the phone, but today, as I checked out, he right away asked, "You look tired, do you work nights?"
To that I said, "No, just got up."
"Oh" he responded, "Where do you work then?" Whoa! Where do I work? My mind instantly went to DEFCON 1 as every ounce of mental processing went into analyzing what was going on. This has never happened and I was fully taken aback as to why this was being asked.
Several awkward seconds passed and I must have looked like I saw a ghost while also watching pigs flying during a complete solar eclipse. With no deviation in tone from the first time he asked the clerk once again asked, "Okay sir, what do you do?" I was now at a junction. I had to think about what to say and with each possibility I had to estimate what the response would be.
It's moments like this that Asperger Syndrome really shows in me. I may have looked somewhat confused on the outside but on the inside my emotions and thoughts were a contorted mess. What was going through my mind was this, "If I say Autism Ambassador he will have no idea what that means and if he doesn't know what autism is then this will be a much longer conversation than I have time for. But, I am an Autism Ambassador so isn't this the place for that? If I say public speaker then he will ask what it is I speak about and then I have the same problem as before. If I say blogger then we will once again have the same problem. So, what if I say writer?"
So that's what I did, I just flatly said I was a writer to which he said, "The internet is killing you, right?" Once again the response he gave me was nothing that I was expecting in my calculations so I once again had the shocked expression as if I just saw Elvis walk into a building. The thought game of DEFCON 1 once again began anew and I tried to piece together what he could have meant. I wanted to sound intelligent but at the same time the internet is not killing me as, well, you're reading this, right?
Maybe five seconds passed when I had had enough of being torn apart internally so I looked at him and went, "Huh?" to which he said, "Yeah, the internet! Who reads books anymore? They always say movies are made from books but who has read them? That and books on iPhone and the like." I felt it best to say nothing as my estimation skills on what the responses would be had been way off and if I said anything I'm sure another question would pop up and the last thing I wanted was another shot of adreniline to start my morning. Mercifully, he finally checked my items out and I rushed out of the store holding my breath as I prayed he would not ask another random question.
In these moments of random questions I feel at a loss. I so dearly wish I could just plow through the questions as if they're nothing, but my mind has to process and analyze EVERYTHING; what is the intention? What's the purpose? What do they want? Is something bad going to come from this? When I answer will there be a follow up? If so, how many questions can come from this? Am I taking too much time to answer? If so, what do I say? Is the answer I'm thinking of perfect? Do I need to answer with the path of least resistance?
Imagine having all those questions in your brain all at once. I think this is the time to point out that when I'm in Kansas (see my book, Finding Kansas or the glossary on the right hand column under the pages section) and I know the answer instantly this processing game is averted because the information is known instantly.
The end result of today's inquizition at the gas station has left me tired. It was such a slam to my system to wake up with such an anxiety provoking situation and that's the thing; to most people an idle conversation like that would be forgotten as soon as they got back into their car. For me though I am tired, a bit shaky, and fearing the next time a random conversation arises because, after all, will I say the right thing? How long will it last? Why is the person asking...