It was just another day when it began.
I didn’t have the most demanding job in the world. My responsibility? I fixed things when no one else could. My ability? I’m autistic. However, no one in the company knows this. It did not seem something to be discussed because there was low possibility I would be triggered by things. For the most part, I was going to get left alone.
I rarely ever dealt with the company president. He was a ball of energy that loved to yap about everything. If something wasn’t going his way, everyone would know about it. If something WAS going his way? Well, everyone would know about that, too. My supervisor did well to keep my shielded from him. One day, it was just unavoidable.
Something wasn’t working right on the company president’s computer. A third party had brought in a new machine to replace an old one…but didn’t bother to check if the setup was supposed to be something more than “standard”. I got sent over to take a look at it. As I knock on his door, the incessant verbal diarrhea begins.
“I tell ya,” he begins in a Southern accent that would be comical to any bystander not from around here, “These boys came in here and set this newfangled machinery up. But when they left, I went to do this this way, click here, move that there…” I stop hearing what he is saying. He’s already lost me. I picked up what he was saying, but now he’s venting his frustration about it, as if HIS frustration is going to help ME fix it.
Finally, the president arises out of his Doctor Claw-style chair and allows me to sit down at his computer.
Over the course of the next twenty minutes, two things happened:
One, I kept on trying to find the problem and fix it. I kept searching and searching. It had been pounded in to me as a child, then as a teenager, then when I got out on my own, that my first answer was never the right answer. I jumped to too many conclusions. I didn’t take enough time to think about things. If I thought I had an answer, the second one I came up with would be right. It was always my fault, problem, or issue. So I am already beating myself up as everything I find and try doesn’t rectify the situation.
Two, the president kept on coming back in the office. He was worked up. He was hyper. He kept asking me questions. Then he kept dismissing my answers. I provided him with ways to get around his problem. He kept asking me about other angles I had already covered, then start saying he needed to get a technician from the third party back out here to “fix what they broke”.
Why is he even paying me money? Why do I get a paycheck if he won’t let me do my work? Why am I employed if he’s not taking me up on my suggestions? Then I remember, he’s a modern version of Don Draper. He’s a carry-over from the time when it had to be a certain way. He’s a hold over from when workers weren’t paid to think.
“Ok, go ahead and call them,” I say, in reference to the third party technician. I didn’t know what else to say. I couldn’t say it even if I knew what I wanted to say. I just wanted to SCREAMMMMMM!!!
But I didn’t.
As I head back to my office, I stop by my supervisor’s office to inform him of the goings on. I’m sure he didn’t realize anything was going on with me. But, inside my head, I fought to read back the script of the highlights to him.
I wanted to scream, again and again.
But I didn’t.
I wanted to cry.
But I didn’t.
I wanted to curl up in a ball and keep myself in a corner on the floor.
But I didn’t.
I was silently yelling the rest of the day. It was the same feeling as when you injure a joint and it starts to swell up. It was the same tension on the surface of a balloon as it receives the air necessary to float, hoping not to encounter a sharp object to burst that tension. But how good it would feel to release that tension. How good it would feel for a little relief and release.
How good would it actually feel to yell out loud?
Also published on Medium.