Friday, February 18, 2011

The Ever Continuing Saga From the Checkout Aisle

I got my wish and it seems kind of strange now. Over the course of my blog I have had many stories regarding my daily run to the grocery store and the small, or sometimes large, dramas and anxiety that have played out there.

So what did I get that I wished for? From my earliest mentions of the grocery store on my blog I have talked about my love of the self checkout aisle. I still love it, but somewhere along the line I mentioned that the employee that works it always said, "Have a nice day." or something along those lines when I was done.

When it comes to a line, such as "have a nice day." I truly don't know how to respond. I mean, when this line is said I am in movement towards the door so do I stop and say something along those lines back? Do I even acknowledge it? Typically I would not acknowledge it and I would walk even faster to the door. So, somewhere on my 270+ blog posts, I stated I wished there would be no interaction. I got my wish.

I doubt that this grocery chain has ever read my blog, but I am now invisible as I go through the self checkout aisle. I have been wanting to write this for over a month now, but each day I think to myself that the next day, yes the next day they will acknowledge me with a nice day comment.

A month has come and gone and still there have been no comments. This was supposed to be my dream as now I can get in and get out without any interaction, but each day I feel like something is missing. It is weird to get exactly what I wanted and have the emotions be nothing like I expected.

If anything the tension seems greater now. "Will today be the day I get spoken to again?" is the question I always am asking myself 1,000 times each day I walk in. After I get beating that question to death I get to the next question, "Well, what will I do if they do talk to me?"

I don't know how I can word this without sounding like nothing will satisfy me. I mean I complain when I get spoken to, and when it quits I feel like something is missing. Yes, I realize this.

Maybe this example is a prime example of Asperger Syndrome. By that I mean I yearn for solitude yet I wonder what normal interactions are like. Being stuck in the middle like this is highly confusing and frustrating.

I am glad I can find humor in a situation like this. While I may say this is frustrating and confusing I see it as a challenge. In the scheme of my day this is a three minute ordeal. Thankfully I am able to describe this situation because the framework of this example may be like much deeper situations for others.

What will Monday bring? I don't know and I am already wondering if I will get in and out invisibly, or if my existence will be proven by some for of interaction.


  1. Aaron, I am glad you can have a good interaction with those machines. I hate them because they go too slowly for me or too fast for me. Some prompting voice keeps telling me what to do and it drives me nuts. I am so glad someone likes them because they do not deserve the verbal thrashing I give them each time I am forced to use one.

  2. So, do you want them to talk to you or not? "Have a nice day," is as arbitrary as "Goodbye." The appropriate response is a brief smile or nod and the reply, "You too." If you want them to speak, and they don't, then you need to initiate the exchange by telling them to have a nice day first! Am I overstepping my bounds with this advice?

  3. The thing is I don't know which is better. When I get spoken to randomly I freeze, but without being spoken to I an anxious I will be spoken to. Talk about a no-win situation!

  4. Well, like I said, if you go into the situation knowing that all they expect is a smile and a nod then maybe it will be a little less anxiety inducing. For me, the worst part of social interaction is not knowing what people expect from me.

  5. Here in the Netherlands it's very rare to have a self-checkout lane. (imagine my total confusion when I saw one in London... I didn't get it! My mum had to show me how to work with one!)
    So I always get the conversation and am expecting one by now. Actually expecting it and having a routine line in response (like Apples and Autobots stated) actually does work for me. After years of using the same line (something like 'you too!') I barely take notice anymore. The only thing that throws me off is when they say something that I can't say 'you too!' to, but that rarely happens.
    Maybe you freeze now, but if you've made it your routine to say something yourself, you won't even have to think about it anymore?

  6. I never got to the point of saying "you too" because, well, I don't really know why. Maybe it's because it takes me so long to process that the person said something so by the time I get around to wanting to say "you too" I am in my car halfway home.

  7. As my mom said, "If you are not used to socializing with other people, your 'social reaction time' is going to be really slow."

    When I started OT school, I was super introverted (even though a lot of my classmates became my Facebook friends very quickly) by a wide margin comparing to my classmates. How I counteracted that was just GETTING myself to try to talk to my classmates. As each semester went on, my confidence grew... so much so that it was actually shocking to some of my classmates when I told them that I have AS. Almost 4 years since I started my OT journey, my classmates who knew me from the beginning have told me how far I have come socially.

    As a lot of Asian parents would say if their children are struggling with something, the remedy they believe of this is through intensive practice and exposure while fighting through anxiety any other negative feelings they may have until consistent success is achieved. My OT education and training, ironically, is that for me.