Does anyone else struggle sometimes to do ‘appropriate’ greetings? You know, as the social skills textbook instructs, especially when hugely distracted by something else? Usually I can manage it, but this morning I may have managed to diversify!
I happened to need to pop to the Scout shop this morning to buy some badges for my Beavers. After I got out of my car I realised that there was what looked like a dead hedgehog by the side of the car park. So I had to stop for a few minutes to investigate whether a) it was actually a hedgehog, and b) it was actually dead. So after establishing those facts, I walked into the shop and rather than doing the textbook greeting, I just said “there’s a dead hedgehog in the car park!” Luckily they were fine with it, they even asked what group scarf it was wearing BUT this really isn’t the appropriate way for me to greet people who I haven’t seen for a few months!!
Oh I don’t know-it’s more interesting than hello? I know what you mean though. Around here the appropriate greeting is hello, how ya doing. I still can’t compute the fact that this isn’t a question you should answer...
It is more interesting and luckily they’re used to me being a bit random! I’m usually ok with the whole social greetings thing, just sometimes there are other things that I deem more important/worthy of attention It took me until reading a social skills book at the age of 37 to ‘get’ the reciprocal conversation thing though, like ‘why’ did no one explain that to be before!
I find the question ones the worst, too. Even now, if I'm flummoxed, which I often am when I just enter a different environment, I'll go for one of my classic literal descriptions; "How are you mate?" - "Very sweaty", "A bit damp", "My undies have ridden up my bum crack", or such like.
The ones where you can answer by just repeating the question aren't too bad these days. But when I first moved up to West Yorkshire, I encountered my nemesis; "Wass'tha noorthen?" It took my softie-Southerner brain long enough to work out that this meant "What do you know, then?". And after that - Aaargh! Know about what? Do I just pick a favourite trivia subject? Is there something I'm supposed to know?
Just to throw a spanner in the works, it's sometimes extended to "Wass'tha noorthen, owt o' nowt?" (What do you know, then, anything or nothing?) You would think that the binary options would be easier, but no, it's just a red herring.
A friend was today confused about ASD and decided to try digging into things that I find stressful, especially at work.
"Give me an example, what causes stress in the office?"
So I looked at him, replied, "I walk in the door, someone sees me, says, 'Hi, how are you?'" and stopped talking.
He looked back at me, waited for me to continue, then paused, realised I'd finished, and sat there quietly processing. It hadn't even occurred to him that this might be a challenging conversation, a difficult interaction, a minefield that has to be negotiated and source of trauma with attendant post-traumatic stress, replaying the response, the following conversation, the impact that's had on the person and how they perceive me.
"How do you deal with that?" he eventually asked, so I told him that in my 30s I learned that the correct response was to lie and just say that you're ok.
I didn't want to upset him so didn't mention how very difficult that can be, how the words seldom match the tone or expression, how frustrating it is that I have to lie like that. I don't think he's ready for that reality yet.
He hasn't had to deal with it multiple times a day for several decades.