Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A Special Kind of Angst

“Make it stop!” those were the words I was repeating as my eyes darted around the room. I was hoping the person speaking, as well as my girlfriend, wasn’t noticing the sheer terror I was in the midst of experiencing. Was this some sort of talking down I was receiving? Or perhaps a lecture in the ways of comma usage I don’t understand? Was this anything involving me or my actions? Well, I really wish I could say so seeing I started this blogpost with such a dramatic statement of wanting it to stop, but it wasn’t. Nope, it wasn’t anything potentially “cool” and there were no talks about commas. Instead, it was a waiter stating the restaurant’s specials for that night that weren’t on the menu.

Ordering at a restaurant is not the easiest of things for me. For those that have been to enough restaurants with me, they’ll be able to almost recite my orders. As I state in my presentation, “Whatever I got first at a restaurant and liked I’ll always get.” This isn’t a sometimes rule. This is the way it is. Trying something new, even one bite, isn’t in the cards. I know what I like, that’s what I get, and my coworkers at INDYCAR can almost recite my orders word for word and sometimes will join in when I get to the “diet coke with grenadine no ice”.

There’s calm in sameness, and there’s panic when things go off script. I struggle in collective talk, and ordering is one of those times. I sound robotic because I try not to deviate from what I say because deviation may create a reason to make eye contact with the waiter. I do try and avoid this because, well, I try to avoid eye contact with most everyone. Why avoid eye contact with a waiter? There’s an infinite amount of information and an impossible amount of humanity to process when eye contact is made that if I do make eye contact my words for my order will be jumbled or my delivery will be a mess and then a second reciting of my order will be needed. This furthers processing and will make the dinner a most unenjoyable situation. Therefore, when the reading of specials happens that I wasn’t prepared for, well, there’s panic.

I may be robotic/flat in my order giving, I’ve noticed that waiters and waitresses sort of do a bob and weave when giving the off-menu specials. This makes the attempt to avoid eye contact even more difficult… and obvious.

I’m aware of my difficulties here, and how they can be perceived. My goal in daily life is one of a chameleon. I don’t want to be noticed or seen because to be either of those requires extra processing. During the reading of specials, I can’t, with any accuracy, estimate the time it’s going to take. Of course I can’t say, “not interested” because that would be rude. However, I’m sure it’s rude doing the eye dance around the room doing everything possible to avoid eye contact so I can remember my order and not have to go back to the menu to remember what I’ve ordered so many times before.

The enemy for me, here, is processing. This challenge extends far outside the confines of a restaurant. Think of any given environment where the unexpected could happen… that’s everywhere, right? It is, and for myself, in school, I struggled with the unexpected reading or conversation akin to the specials at a restaurant.

What do I want you to take away from this post? The main thing is that, when the waiter is doing the bob and weave reciting the specials, to which many patrons would enjoy something new, I’m not trying to be disrespectful to whomever is speaking during whatever the situation may be. I’m just trying not to forget what I have to say or do. It doesn’t take much to derail my train of thought and by looking away I’m attempting to respect the person that is speaking so I’m able to respond in a timely manner. This is hard to explain on the fly as it’s happening so if you come across a person that is exhibiting a behavior much like I’ve described I’m hopeful you’ll understand that no disrespect is intended, but rather I’m just trying to do a bob and weave of my own so I can reply and life can move on without any additional angst, fear, or excessive amounts of processing.




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