Sticking it Out at Work
One would think sorting donated goods in a charity’s warehouse would not be a high-pressure, high-expectations kind of job. Well, it IS. They expect you to sort very fast. Filling 125 bushel-and-a-half totes with bric-a-brac in one day is not something that can be done by someone with sensory issues, especially if he/she takes sedative medications to sleep or reduce outbursts, which many Autistic people do. Something else I was asked to do but could not do was empty 40 seven-foot-tall carts of clothing in one day. Rather than fire me for not fulfilling expectations, as many employers would, they decided to promote the former donation trailer attendant, split his 59 hours a week into two 29-hour-a-week positions, and give the two new positions to me & a coworker who also wasn’t meeting the quotas inside the warehouse.
I really dislike interacting with the public due to occasional communication breakdowns and the sensory demands of being around young children (under five). Luckily the donation trailer I attend is actually right outside the warehouse and not one of The Salvation Army Family Stores. Not one donor so far has brought a child under five. Most of the older children who have accompanied donors have stayed in the vehicles, however, when they do get out, all they’re doing is helping their parent unload the vehicle and hand me what they’re donating, which does not bother me. Sometimes they translate their parents’ Spanish for me, which does help because I cannot understand most dialects of Spanish. Now, if I am ever asked to become a salesperson in one of the Family Stores, I am quitting because the presence of young children will almost certainly become an issue. In the Salvation Army’s Family Store in Orange, California the collectables case is right inside the front door as you enter, so young children don’t get to run around in there because they could easily break something. But they still irritate me with their noises when I’m shopping there. I would NEVER last in a retail environment due to this! At other Salvation Army Family Stores, the collectables case may be located elsewhere, in a place where parents and young children won’t notice it right away, and then the little kids feel so free to treat the place like a playground.
I’m really not happy with the turns my job has taken, but I don’t wanna quit just yet. I was out of the workforce for FOURTEEN YEARS before getting this job. I’m already unable to think of what my next employer will get by hiring me instead of what I will get by having them hire me. It WILL show in my every response to the interview questions! That’ll make ‘em not wanna hire me, and if they see I quit my job at The Salvation Army after just two months, that’ll make ‘em throw my résumé in the trash without even reading beyond my name! They’ll just think, “Wow! This guy’s a quitter!”
Once again, folks, in Orange County, California, Autistic or not, you ARE your job. Being a statistic (a member of the 80% majority of Autistic Adults who remain unemployed for decades or lifetimes) is completely unacceptable here. I was so tired of getting sucked into revealing that I was unemployed within SECONDS of someone new laying eyes on me for the first time in his/her life. I don’t wanna go back to this:
Stranger: Where do you work? / What do you do for work?
Me: I don’t work. / Nothing.
[conversation dies instantly]
I already have to spend money just to get much needed snuggles, and while that’d theoretically still be possible the four times a year I’d plan on it even if I became unemployed again, it’d be a lot harder to pull it off. Worst of all, my only friend who gives me hugs of a decent duration is a romantic ex, and if I expect to have other friends who give me hugs of a decent duration, I must always have a valid answer to the overly popular question outlined above.
Greater ease of affording professional cuddlers is not the only benefit I’ve experienced in working. I’ve also been able to afford to try new restaurants, even some expensive ones like Maggiano’s Little Italy. There, I paid $82 for a steak dinner on September 2nd, 2016. The steak dinner came with a 10+ ounce steak spiced with an Italian spice blend and two generously sized sides (green beans with bacon and Italian-spiced diced potatoes). I have also become able to afford expensive EO brand body wash & shampoo. I was able to afford my $349 Qwerkywriter keyboard which I am now using to write these blog posts instead of traveling an hour from home to the City of Orange Public Library where the internet is SO SLOW in the afternoons, when I have an internet connection in my home nowadays. Had I continued to just be a statistic, I still wouldn’t have my wonderful keyboard until I had saved up $380 (enough to cover the cost of the keyboard, tax, & shipping).