Monday, January 10, 2022

Don't Hear Chimes

 Something was wrong. I looked forward, beside, and behind me as I sat on the plane in the midst of a panic, but no one else had any inclination and I almost said aloud what I was thinking, "Am I the only one who knows? Why don't you all care?"

Being overly aware of my surroundings is something I've been blessed and cursed by my entire life. It seems this isn't uncommon with people with Asperger's and I have thought in the past that it's a bit of a defense mechanism because, since I'm so often delayed in seeing social situations, I have to compensate for the various challenge Asperger's brings. 

As I sat there on the plane, I thought back to what precipitated this panic and I wondered if what I thought I had heard was on a song I was listening to. I knew the song but wanted to make absolute certain it wasn't the three chimes I heard. It was like the noise you hear on the plane when someone hits the flight attendant button, or the noise before landing, but it came in three, the note was shorter, and it was a bit of a subdued chime. I'd never heard that before and figured nothing good could come from such a noise.

Was I overreacting? I thought this but then I thought back to the time in kindergarten we had a fire drill but I knew it was different because the office staff had gone outside as well and in the previous two fire drills I had taken part in they had never been outside. Sure enough someone had left a suspicious bag at an entrance with a note stating it contained a bomb. This was not a good memory to recall at 36,000 feet.

Now I knew something was truly amiss because the flight attendant at the front of the plane picked up the intercom with haste and frantically changed what he was looking at on a monitor. I peered over the seat in front of me and saw that it was a diagram of the plane and there was a section blinking red in the back. I knew three chimes couldn't be good but any diagram of a object with a blinking red light surely can't be good. And yet, I was seemingly alone among the passengers knowing something was wrong. Oh, to be oblivious to such facts! It's a strange contradiction; I'm typically flying in the dark when it comes to social situations and yet I'm an absolute barometer to an environment and can sense an incoming storm.  

Flight attendants went forward, and back, forward, and back with a movement I'd call a graceful yet firm dance of concern as they moved. If not for my noticing the flurry of movement after the chimes you'd have been hard pressed to know something was amiss and perhaps you'd have thought they were out of Sprite on the drink trolley.

Speaking of the drink trolley, the flight attendants blocked off the front of the plane as they will do when a pilot has to use the lavatory and the captain came out from the cockpit to talk to the attendants. This brought relief and panic at the same time. Obviously, if we had a serious issue with the plane I doubt he'd come out for a stop and chat. However, there had to be a problem because it brought him out from the cockpit.

The pilot looked at the same monitor and pointed at something on the screen to the attendants. He then turned and smiled which made me think, "A smile... that's good!" As I hung in suspense trying to assess what the smile meant a flight attendant made an announcement, "This is a reminder that smoking and vaping is absolutely prohibited in the lavatories and is against federal law."

Whew! I was right that something was going on and thankfully it wasn't serious. Most of the time when my senses are engaged on thinking there's an impending danger in my environment it proves to be nothing and the constant level of worry is taxing on me. It isn't a choice to acknowledge or ignore what could be an impending threat in my environment. I'd have loved to have been most everyone else deeply unaware that something was going on, but my body and mind weren't wired that way. It may also have been tiring for my parents as I didn't have the words growing up the describe the sheer terror that comes with knowing something is wrong (even if it actually wasn't) before anyone else. Is it horrible though? I'll leave you with this question to end though; what about that one time myself, or any other person on the spectrum is right? 

1 comment:

  1. My son is a human barometer as well, and as his mom, it pains me to see him tortured by his over whelming sense of danger and I tense up with him even though I try to be the calm one. I am always relieved when the thunderstorm has ended, or the tornado watch expires, or the ice storm heads further south. I feel like I can exhale when he does. I know sometimes he is right, especially about tornadoes and we find ourselves hiding in bath tubs and closets. But I wish he could turn the switch off sometimes, and not be churned about with so much worry and anxiety.