Tuesday, July 9, 2013

People... Nice?

It's been a busy four days! On Saturday I drove, with my sister and nephew on board, from Rapid City back home to Saint Louis. I stay busy today with a radio interview then a drive to Indy and tomorrow starts the USAC .25 Battle at the Brickyard (I'll post the link of where you can watch the racing sometime later this week) but what I want to talk about today is an event that occurred on Sunday.

The last time my sister and nephew were in Saint Louis it was 2001 so it obviously had been a while so we went downtown to eat at my favorite pizza place then go to the Arch. (Speaking of The Arch, that reminds me of a story we wrote for the National Park Service in regards to being on the spectrum and visiting the Arch) With the Cardinals in town parking was at a premium so my dad dropped us off and parked north of the arch leaving the three of us to eat. Afterwards we had to walk to the Arch and that is where this story picks up.

If you've been to my presentation you'll know that I mention that, in public, I am always looking down to avoid eye contact. This is my way to avoid social encounters. On the walk to the Arch, however, my sister was making normal eye contact and a very odd thing happened; people said hello in a friendly manner.

I was confused by this all because, in my mind, people that don't know each other never acknowledge each other. Yes, I know, that mindset would create a very closed off and cold world,  but since random encounters are difficult this would and eye contact is the initiator that then would mean eye contact is bad.

We walked another block and another person said, "hello" in the friendliest of manners. I stuttered in my step as I was now utterly confused as to what I was witnessing. And it got stronger as another block and another friendly, "hello." What was going on? Are people... nice?

In one of my original chapters I wrote for my book I wrote something along the lines of, "people are mean and since they are mean they are not worth knowing." Using that logic would further the concept of avoiding eye contact because eye contact is the path which leads to meeting people which, since they are mean, is a path that shouldn't be traveled. I wrote that line after a massive social disaster happened and while I don't believe, in full, that line today I still am highly timid around those I don't know. I still have that line that floats through my head; do I believe it? As I said, not in full but there's this alert that flows through my body that repeats that and often says, "be careful... be careful... people are mean... and random."

As we continued to walk I began thinking if my logic I had feeds upon itself. What I mean by that is; because I am always looking down, and probably looking as if I'm concerned or worried, those around me leave me alone or, and this is a BIG point, or they draw the same conclusion I fear the world is about me. Meaning, they see me looking down and closed off and think, "people are mean..."

We got to the Arch and I snapped this awesome photo but my mind was fully consumed in wondering if my thought on others creates that environment. Well, not exactly creates that environment but makes people as timid of me as I am of them. If this is true it is a self-repeating cycle that just gets stronger and stronger with each social disaster. I'll have to do some more thought on this, but as for the next four days I've got the biggest USAC .25 Generation Next series race to flag at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


  1. Worded perfectly as always Aaron. I always love reading your writing but this one gave me some "food for thought" for my brain this morning.

  2. Aaron, have you ever heard the term "self-fulfilling prophecy?" I think you may have created that a bit for yourself when I read this line, "be careful... be careful... people are mean... and random."

    That is a VERY poignant line as it is at once untrue...and very true. Sorry to be cryptic. What I mean is, people are not, on the whole, mean. But, people are, without a doubt, random. As you've stated often in these posts, you try to anticipate everything that a person could do or say or act in any number of situations. But even the most well known friend or family member you have can, at any time, act differently than you expect. Some would say that's the spice of life. Other's, especially those on the spectrum, would say it's what makes life miserable at times.

    So, you go through life saying to yourself that people are mean, then of course it's what you're going to see. But, I have definitely seen that you do recognize that this isn't always the case. Is it easier to be prepared for the worst? Some would say so (especially my wife whom I lovingly nicknamed Mrs. Worst-Case-Scenario.) It is one way to go through life and deal with things as they come at you. But, as long as you can see that there is good out there and there are friendly people, you'll find that you aren't alone in the world. Even if you'd prefer it that way sometimes.

    Sorry to have rambled on today. Sometimes your thoughts just really get my own mind buzzing and today was one of those days. Enjoy the race and can't wait to read about your experiences there.