After writing "The Geese Whisperer..." I thought it best to share another event that plays along those same lines.
Over the course of my blogging career I have stated several times that pranks, on any level, aren't handled well by me as proven by this 2010 entry about a prank phone call. The overall problem is that, when whatever is the subject of the prank occurs, I can't see the situation clearly at all as proven by this example.
It was at a hotel; it had been a long day and I was doing blog managing and brainstorming when the phone rang. This struck me odd because I can count on one hand the amount of times I've had the hotel phone ring (this excludes whatever chain it is that insists on calling to ask if the room is to my liking; this is always awkward and catches me off guard. I wish they wouldn't do that as if there were a problem I would, well, most people would call and complain) and it was a person claiming to be from the front desk. "Okay" I thought, "maybe someone needs a key or maybe I have a delivery." Both of my thoughts were wrong as the person said, "Sir, we've received complaints from a couple rooms about excessive noise from your room. We're going to have to ask that you quiet down or we will be forced to throw you out.
"Throw me out?" I said to myself once I had hung up the phone. "Where will I go?" My breathing increased and I tried to figure out what the noise was. I had just been on a phone call so was I talking too loud? I've been told I do this from time to time (I always deny that I am) but surely this couldn't have been it. The television was on, but even I was having trouble hearing it. What on Earth was it?
I spent 15 minutes trying to figure out what I had done wrong. The problem here was this; I received a phone call clearly stating the volume was loud and yet I always have the quietest room. Something wasn't right but my mind was stuck on trying to figure out why I would be sleeping in the car. Yes, did you read that? I had already conceded the fact that eviction was a sure thing even though I didn't know why whatever was happening was indeed happening. The other problem was the fact that my mind couldn't figure out that, perhaps, all this was a misunderstanding.
30 minutes later the phone rang once again and this time it was the front desk but things were different. For one the tone of the ring was much different and secondly, this person from the front desk spoke with a much more formal attitude. This front desk person reported that a complaint had been filed and she wondered what could have provoked it. I, through shaking lips, explained that I had no idea what it could be as, except for me breathing, there was no noise as I had turned off the television just in case that was the problem. The front desk responded that it must have been a mistake and that was all.
Confusion set in. Clearly the two calls were different yet both said they were from the front desk. In the swirling anxiety and fear my brain couldn't tell anything apart. And I say swirling anxiety and fear but let me give you the description of how I felt during this ordeal; it wasn't that I was just experiencing an increased heart rate and a sense of worry. No, it was much worse with fear great enough that I was shaking and a surge of adrenaline that made my limbs rather jumpy. Meanwhile, a surge of self-hate crept in as I was being told I had done something wrong even though I didn't know what. Why does this happen? The reason why is, when this actually happens many times throughout one's life it becomes the expected reason for any social mess up. You could call it that I consider myself guilty into proven innocent as my brain knows that, when I'm told I'm less, or wrong, chances are the other person was right. It's awful! but the pattern has been learned through fact.
Eventually I connected some dots and the person sharing the room with me did some investigating, and indeed, the first call was a phony. I became livid. To go through such an asinine amount of stress, worry, and self-hate needlessly was too much. Look, life is already about as stressful as I can tolerate and adding episodes like this is like adding 1,000,000 gallons of jet fuel to a raging wildfire.
When the initiator of the prank came to my room I amazed myself in that I right away explained why I was so angry and how it felt. I didn't hold back. As I spoke I could see that, to a normal person, this would have some sort of ironic humor to it as the quietest person being told that their room is too noisy. I can see the humor in that, but in the midst of an event like this I am incapable of seeing that and can only see and hear the threat of being thrown out.
I'm grateful the person was understanding and apologetic. I think back to events like this while I was in school and the complete disregard to the concept of understanding. Society usually shuns difference and my handling of a situation like this is different to the maximum degree. Pranks, jokes, and the like aren't handled or understood the same way and it isn't, really, the other person as it's what my body does to itself. It's like a self-destruct mechanism as the stress gets to the point of ripping up the proverbial sails of a sailboat. There is no, "just let it go" as my brain begins to think, then dwell, then obsess on the problem at hand. There is no handling it on a mild level as it's straight to the nuclear disaster level.
Each and every time I write a blog that has this type of impactful message I think that, "This is the #1 most important thing for those around a person with an ASD to know." because when an event like this happens there will be a response that might be considered an overreaction. Yes, I've heard teachers say that so many times when a prank or joke is sprung on a person with Asperger Syndrome but you know what? If you could experience the stress, the self-loathing, and the crushing feeling of severe isolation you would know, beyond any level of reasonable doubt, that it's not an overreaction, at all but maybe more so a call for help with the message of, "Please, please, please never do that again. Others can handle it and I envy that, but for me the pain is too great."