Monday, April 4, 2011

Drama on the 7th hole

It has been an amazing time giving presentations in just the first few days of Autism Awareness Month. My focus today shifts from the Southwest part of Missouri to the Southeast.

My confidence in presenting is still increasing and I have noticed that I am doing something I rarely do and that is smiling. All this smiling and all this confidence though does not replace having Asperger Syndrome and I had an experience yesterday that is a good reminder of the challenges.

Yesterday I had a day off from presenting so I took time to go play golf. First, if you ask if I have any skill, this picture of me is a good example of where I play  a lot.

I was having a decent time yesterday and was shooting nicely when I got to the 7th hole. My drive ended up in the sand of all places, but while driving to my ball the golf cart sputtered, slowed, and eventually came to a stop.

At this time I thought this was just something that could be solved by using the "choke" button. I have no clue what this magical thing does, but this time it wasn't so magical and the golf cart's engine was just barely making any noise. After a minute of trying this I came to the conclusion that I was out of fuel.

What to do? I looked around and weighed my options. A group had let me play through two holes earlier so I decided to wait for them, but after a minute of thinking I became very anxious about what I would tell them. I mean, I was parked near the sand trap a good 200+ yards away from the tee box. I could wave them to hit the ball, but then, well, I'd have to say something to them. What would I say, "Hey, I'm out of fuel, can I play with you?" While that may be the easiest and most straight-forward thing to do it would require me to talk to people I don't know.

Here's the classic situation. In a presentation I can speak for two hours or more and words are easy. And yet, as easy as that is, I can't simply tell three people that I need a little help getting to the next few holes.

Okay, so waiting for golfers to come to my aid was out. My next solution was to simply play the game as it was meant to be played and that was to walk. I could catch the club house in three holes and get a replacement, but of course this meant I'd have to explain that I left my golf cart, abandoned, three holes back. Do I leave the key in? Do I bring it with me? Oh, the choices!

I decided to bring the key with me and I walked towards my ball in the sand. While walking I experienced a yard sale of golf clubs. What I mean by that is my golf bag is not good and my clubs like to fall out. It was bought for less than 10 dollars when I was 15 and I don't think I could give the thing away in clear conscience.

If I were to continue on walking I would be picking up golf clubs every five steps. This did not sound like fun so I went back to my stationary golf cart. Ten minutes have now passed and I am starting to get very angry because I convinced myself I was not going to join up with the people I don't know.

As I saw the golfers that I had passed earlier reach the green on the previous hole I had to think of a solution, then it hit me. I could call the clubhouse and state the situation. "Uh oh!" I said aloud as I looked at my phone. Using my phone is something I don't do often except to call family. On top of that I didn't know the number of the club house. After several seconds of debating whether to text someone to look it up I decided to look on the scorecard and there it was, or so I thought.

I was in such a panic that I dialed the first number I found and it rang... and it rang... and it rang. No answer. Then I saw that I had called a contractor. Then I dialed the next number I saw and it was a bank. Was the number I needed on this scorecard? If I wasn't in such an anxious state I would have found it much quicker, but anytime I am anxious about something, and even more so when it is something that deals with social aspects, I usually will miss the obvious. In this case the obvious was the front page of the scorecard with the phone number in the biggest font on the sheet.

Now that I found the number after a couple of errors I hesitated. I wanted to walk again as having so much time to think about the phone now made the phone a very scary prospect. I then looked at my golf bag as motivation and I called the number.

Within five minutes the replacement cart was being driven and I got out just in time to avoid having to explain the situation to the golfers that had just about caught up to me.

I am not another person, but I think someone else would have handled this much differently and probably much more efficiently. Perhaps it would have simply been an inconvenience instead of something that became an adrenaline inducing drama.

Today I will be back in front of a group of people explaining my experiences on the spectrum and I will be talking with ease. These moments I cherish like nothing else because there are times, be it in a supermarket, of the 7th fairway, that words and actions will be much harder.


  1. This is good, very good!

  2. Hey! I think that's either my ball or my Dad's near the hole (not in the bunker :) )

  3. I believe that was your ball and if memory serves me right you four putted from there :)

  4. This is because for presentations- you have prepared what you say way ahead of time. However, in instances you described here and older blogs, you have to think on your feet. The more anxiety you have socially, the harder it is to think on your feet and say something appropriate. On top of that, if you have some negative experiences of something, you will need positive experiences MANY times over to balance that out.