Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Sign

Yesterday was one of those days in which my lack of ability for thinking analytically jumped up and bit me on the butt. I felt like a four year old in the body of a 52 year old man!

I've befriended the new owner of the South Bend Food Mart. Paul, originally from South Korea, lives in Olympia, but spends most nights each week in South Bend's one motel. On Wednesday nights, he goes home to visit his wife and children, then does his wholesale shopping before returning to the store Thursday afternoon.

I had stopped by just before he left yesterday. Since the clerk on duty, Tina, is rather petite and the gas prices were to be changed that evening, Paul asked me if I would come back around 7:00 p.m. to change the sign that towers about the parking lot. Sure thing, I said.

When I returned last night, Tina gave me the individual number placards and the suction cup pole. I headed out to do the job. I worked for 20 or 3o minutes trying to get the current numbers off the sign. It seemed no matter what I tried, I couldn't dislodge them! Fortunately, Tina came out and explained what I was doing wrong -- it was so elementary. Why couldn't I figure out? In no time at all, I had all the old number placards in a pile.

Now I had to place the new number placards on the sign. Just as before, I worked at it for 20 or 30 minutes and nothing I tried seemed to work to get the numbers to stay in place. A local guy rode up on his bike and saw the trouble I was having. He came over to show me what I was doing wrong.

There were slots up on the sign that each placard was to be slid into. Once this registered in my brain, I got the job done in less than five minutes.

What's frustrating for me is that I saw the slots when I started the task, but my autistic brain didn't recognize them for what they are. I kept trying to put the placards on the sign OVER the slots, not in them. Once someone specifically drew my attention to the slots, I immediately understood their function in the operation. I had spent nearly one hour doing a chore that should have taken no more than 10 minutes.

A few days ago my wife commented that her opinion of me has changed drastically over the years. When she first met me, she thought I was one of the most analytically-oriented people she had ever met. More recently, she has come to understand that the ONLY thing I seem capable of analyzing is facts, nothing else.

It's true. When I took the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) after earning my first undergraduate degree, I scored in the top 20% nationally in verbal ability and in the bottom 20% nationally in analytical thinking. In essence, I can't think my way out of a paper sack -- even if one side is ripped open!

It makes life very challenging AND frustrating, at times.


  1. augh i feel your pain. i can work at a task for an hour and finally get my husband to help tell me what i'm doing wrong and he'll get it done in 15 minutes. :( i feel like such an idiot when that happens and unfortunately it happens a lot.

  2. I think that happens to a lot of people. Some more than others. On the lighter side...being only 52 you have the time to look forward to when 'senior moments' kick to help you along.

  3. Ahahaha "my autistic brain", jesus fucking christ. Say it enough times and you start believing it.


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