Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Legendary Neighborhood Autistic Guy

I was pissed off because all the accessible parking spaces were occupied at Trader Joe’s. Whenever all the accessible spots are taken like that, I always suspect that the people clogging them up aren’t entitled to be there because they lack the proper cripple credentials, such as a license plate with the wheelchair stick figure guy on it.

Anyway, that’s why I was pissed off. We had to park on the lower level, which has no accessible parking space. We made do with a regular space. I felt like a commoner. But as I entered the store a guy wearing a Trader Joe’s work shirt and nametag bellowed out, “Welcome to Trader Joe’s!”

This must be the autistic guy I’ve heard so much about, I said to myself. He’s kind of a neighborhood celebrity because he was written up in a local publication because he’s autistic and he works at Trader Joe’s. Our societal opinion of crippledness has advanced to the point where possessing either of those characteristics unto themselves doesn’t make one particularly newsworthy, but when you put together the two, that’s a human-interest feature just dying to be written.

How did I know he was the legendary autistic guy? I mean, autistic people  aren’t immediately obvious. You can see a wheelchair cripple coming from a mile away. And blind people  are a dead giveaway with their white canes and dogs.  But people with autism aren’t as easy to peg. I’m told that some of them are wild eyed and snort a lot. (Or is that Tourette’s people? Or maybe that’s schizophrenics. I get mixed up.) But this guy didn’t display any of that. And he certainly wasn’t wearing a button that said HELLO I’M AUTISTIC.

No, the reason I figured he  must be autistic was because he was so enthused about working at Trader Joe’s.  I know that’s screwed up of me to assume that if a person  is excited to  be working at a place like Trader Joe’s they must be autistic. But really, the only other people that are really enthused to be working at corporate places like Trader Joe’s or  Burger King are people in commercials.

But actually, why is being enthused about what you’re doing such a bad thing? Isn’t that what we all want, to be happy and content as much as possible? I could stand to give myself a break in that regard. I’m always finding myself trying hard to resist enjoying simple things, I guess because I have this dumb idea that enjoying simple things means I ‘m a simple person. I don’t know what prize that attitude will win me in the end.

The autistic guy (alleged) hustled ahead of me and pushed the elevator button. The door opened and he welcomed me in with a swoop of his arm. As we rode up in the elevator, I was star struck to be in his presence, like he was Brad Pitt or something.

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