Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In the interest of disclosure

It's 9PM, and Mom and I are hanging out at Starbucks so that I can (hopefully!) talk to Chloe and tell you all what's going on. I only have about a half hour, when Mom will take me back across the street and Elsie will watch our rented movie (Molly: An American Girl).

I wanted to tell you about something that happened at work last night that was both good and bad.

We have a new girl at work. I'm not her biggest fan, exactly, because she drops the "f" word around me all the time (no, seriously, like every sentence!) and she's very abrasive. I'll say things to be friendly and she'll completely ignore me and walk away. I have trouble tolerating rudeness, but I have to work with the girl, so I continue to be nice.

Because she was new and it was only 6 months ago that I, too, was new, I thought I would try to help her. For example, when she asked me what to do with the dogs, I explained and then said, "And make sure you turn the lights off when you're done." Or in another situation, I said, "I'm not sure if anyone's told you that we've stopped feeding the cats at 8pm. We just feed them at 6 and that has to last them until tomorrow. I don't want you to get in trouble, in case you haven't heard." I truly just didn't want her to get in trouble and get yelled at, so I tried to help her out. I would have appreciated it, and did, when I was new. She always said, "I know already."

Well, when I got to work yesterday (Tuesday), my boss said, "Lydia, I need to talk to you."

(Insert fear here.)

Boss: How do you get along with New Girl?

Me: She's alright.

Boss: I just want to explain something to you. If I ask you to hand me a pen, I don't care if you hand it to me this way or that way. I just want the pen. When it comes to this job, I don't care how the work gets done, so long as it gets done. So, you might do something one way, and New Girl might do it another way. As long as it gets done, I let everyone do things how they do them best. Does that make sense?

Me: Yes.

Boss: So, if you see New Girl do something differently than you would do it, that's fine by me. It doesn't worry me, and it shouldn't worry you. Got it?

Me: Got it.

Boss: That's my girl.

So basically, she couldn't have been nicer. New Girl is still swearing constantly and being short with me. I try to be nice....

Me: (walking into New Girl's cat condo that she's cleaning)... Do you need cat litter?

New Girl: Yep.

Me: I'll go get it for you. Everyone hates to get cat litter.

New Girl: Yep.

Me: Well, if it's okay, I'll go get it. I like to carry heavy things like that.

New Girl: (Looks up).

Me: Well, I have autism. I have a lot of little quirks, and one of them is that I like to carry heavy things. It calms me down.

New Girl: Yep.

So now, I feel like an idiot. I thought something would click when I told her.... you know, oh, that makes sense. She's autistic. I get it now. But no sign of that. Nothing. Just "yep." My only fear is that she'll go complain to the boss that I told her. Make sense? No. Stupid? Yes. But as nice as my boss was yesterday, I don't want to get called into her office again tomorrow to be corrected, you know?


Mom's tired and Chloe's not online. Gonna take my mocha frap home and watch my movie with Elsie on the arm of the couch.


  1. {{{hugs}} I SO know what it's like to be in that situation. Sounds to me like "new girl" is the one with the problem. I wouldn't worry about being called into your boss's office. You're certainly free to disclose your condition if you so choose, that's not something anyone's going to reprimand you for.

    As for new girl, I'm not even gonna try to give you advice on this. I'm on the spectrum and I'm afraid I would steer you wrong. But I hope it helps to know you're not alone. Hope it gets better soon.

  2. Hugs Lydia -

    I truly think it's the new girl at your work that has the problem. You have done what you can to help her out and to try and help her out. Unfortunately some people are just like that - indiferent.

    To me the language thing is very rude - I'm not on the spectrum and I'd have trouble with that.

    Sorry you missed Chloe on line. I hope you and Elsie enjoy the movie.

  3. Hopefully once she's no longer 'new' you will all get more comfortable with each other.

    In the meantime, you know what I might try? This might sound counter productive, but I'd just let her have her space. You'll still be your wonderful nice self, Lydia, but you might keep your interaction and attempts at conversation more limited for now given the bumpy start. Don't try too hard to get her to like you. Maybe give HER the chance to reach out to YOU.

    You know what happened to me a few months ago? I disclosed to a far away but someone I consider to be a fairly good friend, (we both grew up in the same state and by coincidence ended up in another state going to college together), that my son has autism. This person and I used to make frequent nice comments on eachother's facebook pages about our children and postings, etc. And suddenly, it all stopped on the other end right after this disclosure. It kind of hurt and was really confusing for me. That such a personal disclosure would not be received with even the most minimal recognition.

    After a lot of thought, I don't think my friend's silence is callous. But I do think that if a person hasn't been exposed to someone with autism or a disability, it can be scary and uncomfortable. And maybe such a personal disclosure was too much for my friend, who preferred to just see my family as picture perfect or however it appeared without explanation. I may have unknowingly forced the subject. (Not saying YOU did in your situation, but just explaining my reasoning.) I don't know what the answer is, Lydia, but maybe see if some time and space helps! That's kind of how I feel about the situation with my friend.

    That said. Despite these little bumps, Lydia, you are one heck of a lady and I think you're doing amazingly well!!

  4. I kind of agree with what's been said - maybe New Girl needs to go to you rather than you go to her. She knows you're approachable as you've already tried to help her so leave her to it - the plus side of that is of course you won't have to put up with the bad language :)

    you could even specify it by saying to her "I'll be (where ever) if you need me." I certainly wouldn't worry about saying you find her language offensive and could she tone it down a bit around you either.

    As for telling her you have autism some times people don't know what to say so they say nothing, presumably for fear of causing offence, but they don't realise the effect their silence has. Sometimes nothing says more than something if that makes sense?

    And hey, I notice a little landmark here - you called your new apartment "home"!!

  5. Just wanted to drop in for 2 reasons.

    The first reason is to say: "Hope you're getting along and pulling together, no matter what".

    And the second reason is to tell you that Alan Griswold - author of Symphonies and Songs (great coffee-table website with deep ideas and crisp expressions!) has mentioned you positively, along with Magro and Beukers. He is a Dad to Brian.

    Griswold does some housekeeping on the 20th August 2010

  6. Lydia,

    For what it's worth, I think you did the right thing disclosing to her. What she does with it is her business. She might just be a not so nice person and in that case it is good to steer clear. You tried. That is huge.

    Good for you!