Thursday, April 27, 2023

Understanding the Silence

This morning, within an hour of each other, I had two events that reminded me of the fact that I'm on the autism spectrum. As I've said many times, I don't go around with the thoughts of, "I'm autistic... I'm autistic." No, it's when things go awry that there's a reminder, and that reminder started with a tackle this morning.

I exited my hotel room, went down the elevator, and out to the van where Tyger was waiting. I was a bit early, as was he, and he wanted me to send a text to the group saying we were ready. I'm glad he did, because it was then that I realized I had forgotten my phone in the room. Ugh! I've been forgetting way too many things as of late, as this story proves. 

When walking back to the room, I arrived at the elevator where it was in the process of being vacuumed. The way this was being done by two people was peculiar, but I stepped back and waited. Several seconds passed, then half-a-minute passed. Another man was getting a little agitated at the fact that the other elevator car would not arrive because the system was waiting for the car open to depart. This worried me that I was about to see some sort of altercation, but then the woman with the vacuum started to backup.

She was on a direct line with me. She kept backing up, but my mind was still on the man to my left and if he'd yell or make a scene. The woman took three more steps and I put my hands up in a way to say "STOP!" and the system process I have of "I think therefore you should know" came into play. I could see she was going to run into me, but there was no way for her to know. And then, contact was made.

She hit me with more force than I was expecting, and her legs almost got intertwined with mine which made me have to step back awkwardly. My lack of equilibrium, when outside forces interfere, came into play and I made some quick steps to prevent from falling, but the wall ended up breaking my fall as I went straight back into it.

It was a needless situation. As I tell police officers in my police presentation, "First and foremost, autism is a communications issue" and I couldn't communicate because of the fear of the man on my left. The contact hurt, but I was more frustrated with my inability to speak. This inability would play out again in just an hour.

I'm at Barber Motorsports Park for this weekend's NTT INDYCAR Series, and one of the support series team owner is a man that was a manager of where I worked at the racing school some 20 years ago. I've known he was at those races that the Radical Cup was at in years past, but I saw him this morning driving down the pit road as I was setting up some of my equipment. 

I saw him, raised one hand as if I were about to say something, but I uttered nothing. Then, he drove back up pit road and I made eye contact, which is hard for me, and opened my mouth but then quickly looked elsewhere. 

He continued to make measurements and where as he was a major factor in that timeframe of my life, I doubt I'd have been all that memorable at the time. Besides that, if I were to stop him, would he be mad? Why would he be mad? I don't know, but it's a possibility because I can't process or predict such an interaction.

He drove by at least six more times and each time I tried to say something, but each time I was unable. It's in moments like this I feel absolutely ridiculous. You'll see me Sunday, if you watch NBC 2:00 Central time, working my 50th career INDYCAR race. I have no problem whatsoever doing that job. I feel confident, in control, and I proverbially soar at the job. When it comes to socializing, I can't fathom how others do it so effortlessly, and I remain silent for the fact I can't foresee what could come from the conversation. Think of it like playing chess without being able to see your opponent's pieces. But let's put something on the line, raising the stakes of the game. You'd be nervous if every move could end the game, and for myself it's the pain of processing when conversations don't go according to how I think they might, and a person I knew 20 years ago would most certainly be an unknown.

I'll feel better tomorrow. I might be down on myself now, but since then I've had several conversations that have made me smile, I asked a police officer that had a FBINA (FBI National Academy) jacket on so I asked him what class he went on, which I was shocked I was able to... but that was a conversation on the professional level. When it comes to personal interaction, there are times I might not be able to speak even if it results being tackled by housekeeping.

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