At forty five I feel I have lived a life far beyond my years. I feel that life's turns have tumbled me to where I am nowhere near what I thought I'd be "when I grew up". I studied hard, played hard and expected nothing but the best from myself, and for myself. You get not what you deserve, but what you work for and earn.
GP and I were at a local restaurant the other day and after the server had done one eye roll too many, one "What?" too many, and one "sigh" too many. I called her out. I did. It's been nagging at me for days. I can't let it go, and I know why. I have reached the end of my "Taking crap" line. Yep, I'm done
I have to tell you. I am so sick of people who think they are entitled to huff and puff at the "inconvenience" of having to write down "Lettuce and cheddar cheese only, croutons on the side, ranch dressing on the side, no garnish." I mean, really? Are you freakin' kidding me? Maybe the fact that I have spent MONTHS, teaching my son exactly how to phrase this so that he gets exactly what he wants, so he doesn't totally flip out and have an emotional meltdown at the table, has something to do with my zero tolerance for "attitude".
Teaching an autistic child independent living skills is no easy task. It means many, many embarrassing moments when the clerk stares at you with the "why don't you just tell me what you need lady, and leave the poor kid be?" look. It means you might get into a squabble right in front of the cashier because he refuses to figure out how much money he must give the person. It might mean that you hold up the line at the supermarket because you need him to count his change before he leaves, lest he be shortchanged. It's no small task. But one day I will be dead, and I know that he will be able to shop for groceries, make change, and eat out, among other things.
Children grow up and my once cute little boy is now turning into a young man, and because I have not had "autistic" tattooed on his forehead I have found that sometimes, some people, feel that they can treat him with contempt. It's subtle, but it's there. And I for one, will not stand for it. I think if more people were called out for their bad behavior they would stop being jerks. I think folks feel that they are safe hiding behind a badge and need to be called on it, so I am starting with the woman in the mirror.
The number of special needs children turning into adults with special needs is alarming. I guess everyone forgot that these kids grow up, and when they grow up they look just like anyone else, and if they are lucky, they talk and do things that everyone else does...except they do things in quirky ways.
Here's a hint, if someone is talking to you while staring at the table, they are probably NOT being rude, they are probably AUTISTIC. If someone is talking "at you" while on a cell phone, they are just being rude... see the difference? I was once at a restaurant where I actually told the server, "My son speaks English. Do you understand English?" Oh yes I did. She was some young Chickie whose every other word was "What?" and the more she, asked, the more GP flapped (stimming is an outward sign of happiness, distress, anxiety...); but I would NOT speak for him. I would sit there till the freakin' cows came home before I would say what I knew he could say. He could do it and he would, and I would not let that arrogant kid get away with being a jerk. Oh she clearly understood English, and after I called her out she "listened a little more carefully" and understood his order... I understand the need to have someone LOOK at you when they speak to you, I do. I struggle with it every day. I have a "Look at Mom" mantra going 24/7. But if the person is not looking at you, and clearly not distracted otherwise, wouldn't that be a clear sign that something is amiss with this person? Hello?????????????? The lack of empathy makes me angry.
If someone is telling you exactly how they want something, over and over and over. What would lead you to believe that of you keep asking the same question you won't get the same answer? "Do you want tomatoes on that?", "I want a cheese and lettuce salad with croutons on the side and ranch dressing on the side". So, you don't want onions on that?" "I I want a cheese and lettuce salad...." Hello? How many times do you need to hear the same sentence before your brain clicks to "ON" and tells you "This is a recording!" It drives me nuts. It's scripted language, it's obvious. It's so clear it could be water from a spring. Oh, OK...maybe not to everyone, but you really don't have to be the sharpest tool in the shed to get it, you really don't.
Scripted language is like a recording that helps autistic children cope with the anxiety of having to express their needs and wants to strangers. I don't expect everyone that I meet to know this. I just expect people who are in the service industry to realize that when someone is telling you exactly what they want and how they want it, you should just take them at their word and let them be. It's not rocket science. It's common sense.
So I had to vent and tell you that I now understand those angry old ladies that snap at people with very little provocation because I have turned into one of them. Be warned, if you are my server and you even glance at my son in any way that is not kind and caring, I will call you out on it. I will not sit there and pretend I don't notice because his life is too full of real challenges, he tries really hard to fit into "our" world, he is doing the best he can and if you can't or won't work with him, I'd like to see the manager because I have a zero tolerance policy for "attitude"!