I went into a store on Sunday because they had a half price sale on pillows, and I’ve been meaning to get a new one to see if it would help my neck pain. It was one of those huge places, full of ‘home stuff’. I wanted to tell my husband what part of the store I was headed to, so he’d know where to find me when he was done browsing. So I called over to him, maybe a little loudly, and said ‘I’m just going to the pillow section to find one to help my neck pain.’
And that’s when it happened. An older lady (early 60s I’d guess) happened to be standing beside me. She looked at me and said ‘the pillows are over on that side. They have a lot of different types. Amazing value. But I don’t really know the difference between them. Those ones there claim to be good for neck pain but…’ Blah, blah, blah. And she followed me all the way to the pillow section and kept talking while I tried to figure out which pillow was best. Blah, blah, blah. I stammered out a ‘thank you, I’m ok, thank you’, grabbed the nearest pillow and ran back to my husband.
However, what I actually wanted to say was:
‘Thank you but I’m not actually looking for advice. I want to examine each and every pillow in peace and quiet while I determine their relative pros and cons. I don’t know you, you don’t know me, and unless I specifically ask you for advice, which I would not as I’d ask a store worker for advice, then can you please not talk to me. If you’re not trying to be helpful but are just talking to me because you’re lonely, can you please find someone else to talk to. If I wanted to talk to lonely old women, I’d join the knitting club.’
But…. that would be considered very rude, the height of bad manners, and at least I know that much. As a child, my ‘socially acceptable’ filter would not have been as strong and I might have said some of what I was thinking. Or, more likely, I would have turned my back on her and ignored her. Now I stammer out something vaguely acceptable.
I want to get a t-shirt printed that says ‘leave me alone’ or ‘I’m not rude, I’m autistic’.