Thursday, August 5, 2010

Myths about autism: #1

MYTH: I'm the one that lacks social skills.

On Thursdays at work, I work with two women in their early 60s, J and D. For probably 3 1/2 of the past 5 months, I've had it worked out in my head. Both are nice to my face, but D is mean because she tries to dump all her work on me, and J is nice because she stands up for me.

So much for that.

I can't remember what started it, but J got really, really mad at D and now, anytime it's just the two of us, she "confides" in me, which is really just venting her anger. Although I really do agree with most of her frustrations about D, I try not to agree with her to her face because I try not to talk badly about people behind their backs. To be honest, over the past few weeks during which she's been mad, the venting has gotten really old. I avoid being alone with her, because all she does is complain, and I'm uncomfortable with the bad-mouthing.

That was one thing, but now that D has figured out that J is angry, she's started to get angry back. They won't stand in a room together, but every time they have an encounter, both come running to be to complain about it, separately, of course. Sometimes they both run in at the same time, see the other, and run back out...

I hope it doesn't ruin it to say that I do this, but I enjoy doing random acts of kindness at work and other places. For example, I might see D's mop buckets (4 of them) sitting out in the hall so she can come back and dump then refill them with clean water. While she's off doing whatever she's doing, I might take said buckets to the janitor's closet, dump them out, and fill them back up, putting them right back where I found them. When asked about the buckets, I might announce, "The bucket fairy did it." True story, from last week. Because it is D that was driving me nuts, I made sure that D was on the receiving end of my kind acts most often. It puts my heart back in the right place.

The problem is that both J and D have started to slyly push extra work on me. They might do something like chat with friends for an hour, then find that they can't finish their work at the last minute, knowing that I'll help them. I refuse to stop being kind altogether, but I might have to make a rule that I will do my work and only my work. Any extra things I do must be of my own violition, and not because I was asked.

The simplest solution to all this is to sit down with my boss, explain it all, and let her take care of it. Being that she enjoys screaming at people, this is not the route I want to go. That's one way to lose friends, having the boss scream at them for their wrongdoings.

The other, slightly more complicated, possibility, is to

(Insert major melt down that requires waking Mom up at midnight when she has to get up for work the next morning here, due to frustrating evening at work, frozen computer, and slightly incorrectly memorized/copied 10 times bible verse...)

Anyway. The other possibility is to confront J and D with something like this: "I know the two of you are the best of friends, but I happen to like you both. In the future, I would appreciate it if you would refrain from speaking badly about the other person in my presence. It makes me uncomfortable." The bad part about that is that it's unlikely that I'll speak anything nearly so coherent when it comes down to it, and I may well end up confusing them, getting frustrated, and crying.

Still up in the air about what to do about work getting dumped on me. Mom's thinking about what to do with that. I so badly don't want to stop being nice, but I want to do it of my own violition and not because people are backing me into corners about it.

Anyway, that melt down wore me out. Back to copying my bible verse (correctly this time); it's very relaxing.

"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8.


  1. Random acts of kindness are awesome.

    And they take really good social skills: the kind anyone would be pleased to have and maintain.

    A rule about your work and only your work would be good. And to make it truly random, you could do some after your work is done.

    Hope you dwell in safety and sleep in peace for God.

  2. I love your random acts of kindness and also your rule about doing only your work. If theses ladies know you well enough to understand that you are liable to lose words when you are alking then how about a little letter to each explaining in as nice a way as possible how you value their friendship, but struggle with the parts of your conversations that are about the difficulties they have with other people (no need to be specific) and would it be possible to "reframe" what you talk about together. Also, you could put in a little bit about how you are trying very hard to finish all your work by the end of your shift but would appreciate their help in keeping on track each shift so you can finish on time? That takes the blame off them so they won't get defensive, opens a path for talking about other things other than the carping about the other one and keeps it all as neutral as possible.

    I hope you slept well and got over the melt down.

  3. Yep, what Annicles said.

    The whole point of random acts of kindness is just that, random. If they take advantage of your good nature and expect you to help out then it ceases to be a random act.

  4. Ok Ditto what Annicles and Amanda said. I love the way NTs can re-word things to avoid the other person getting defensive and still accomplishes the goal. It's pretty cool.

    And I think your random acts of kindness are just marvelous.