Tuesday, May 24, 2022

“Use Your Words”

I’m sitting at the restaurant counter as I write this on my phone. It’s an off day for me in Indianapolis after an intense two weeks. I’m exhausted, I’m worn out, and the last thing I need is to be told “use your words”.

After hotel breakfasts for so long I went to a restaurant for something a little, well, less healthy. It’s an off day, I’m entitled… anyway, I walk in and I’m not the most aware person right now. Imagine a person walking through a field of randomly placed mouse traps in a dense fog and that’s a bit of how timid I walking in. 

I get to the high counter and sit down. I glance at the menu to make sure I know the name of the combo I’m getting and just as I confirm and open my mouth I want to double check that I’m right so I hesitate. The waitress looks with a hint of disgust and says “C’mon, use your words”.

Use your words. Those three words are the epitome of making a person “think harder”. I was double checking to try and minimize a social situation and in turn I was given an even worse situation. The attempt to think harder is filled with angst and social failure. 

Attempting to think harder made me flip the menu over for no reason at all. Maybe it was attempting to figure out why I was wrong. Wrong? There was nothing to be wrong about but when thinking harder nothing seems right. 

At least a dozen awkward seconds passed before I got the ability to use words and get my order out. 

The waitress meant no ill-will by her choice of words. I understand that this phrase is often used in a time when a person is having a difficult time getting words out, but when there’s a reason, such as Asperger’s, as to why I’m having a bit of a hesitation getting words out, well, to put it mildly it hurts. 

My good couldn’t come soon enough as I felt rather small. The contrast between communicating with flags over the weekend for qualifying for the 106th Indianapolis 500 to this moment was as far as one could get. It’s aggravating for me to be able to do certain things way beyond what one would consider average, but when it comes to the everyday things such as ordering food, and having a high level of anxiety while do so, well, it’s the essence of living life on the autism spectrum.

The food was awesome, which I needed, and I had a momentary thought of advocating and stating what that phrase did to me, but their tea machine nozzle broke and there was a steady stream of fast moving tea flying up and then onto the floor. This wasn’t the time, but maybe through this story you will have a better understanding how something ordinary can have an impact for a person on the spectrum in an extraordinary way. 

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