Monday, December 15, 2008

When No Means Yes

A few years ago, I lived accross the alley from a lesbian couple. I had been fired from a job (another story) and my roomate thought one way I could raise a bit of money during my unemployment was to shovel their house. Well, it snowed one time and I was out shoveling their sidwalks and driveways. It did snow a bit more, but I thought I had done what they wanted.

I should add, during this time, the mother of one of the lesbians died, so they were in a rough spot.

A few days later, I get a call express dissapointment at my performance. Since it had snowed a little bit more, it made it look like I never did much. I said I could go out and shovel, but they kept saying don't bother. The next day, I saw one of them out shoveling and the day after recieved an email telling me that my services were no longer required. I responded in what I thought was a civil tone, but I guess was somewhat snarky.

The next thing I know I got a terse email from one them that was flaming; telling me how the other person went out to shovel and could have had a heart attack and the like. That bit of frustration caused me to go into a meltdown situation, which is a story for another time. Long story short, because of that, our relationship which was once friendly, became strained.

What was interesting in all of this, was how I was told over and over to not bother going out and shovel. So, after a while I took them at their word. But in reality, their "no" was really "you better get out there and clean things up." But being an aspie, I saw "no" as "no."

For someone that is not on the spectrum, there would be no question: the word "no" was a way of nicely saying that something needed to be done. Neurotypicals know this. But someone who has Aspergers doesn't see things that way.

In some way, being an aspie in an NT world is like a French-speaking person living in an English speaking culture. Just as language comes with a certain world view, so does having Apsergers. We see and percieve the world rather differently and having to live in a world where everyone else speaks a different "language" can be quite confusing.

1 comment:

Chas said...

As someone else recently diagnosed, I sympathise. I am continually trying to work out when 'no' means 'yes' ...