A Crazy Busybody

by admin on June 25, 2013

So, here’s a weird thing that happened to me last week: I work in a grocery store and this particular day I was working the express line. It was very slow so I was passing time by making bags of double paper bags (plastic is outlawed in our town) to expedite the check-out process. I had made a bunch for myself and was making some for the other cashiers. I brought the next bundle over to a girl who is relatively new and she was so thrilled she asked me “Can I give you a hug?”

To which I said “Of course! I’d have to be crazy to turn down a hug!”

At which point a customer standing nearby rounded on me in a furious rage, berating me for implying that only crazy people don’t want hugs because she has Asperger’s and doesn’t like to be touched but that doesn’t make her crazy and how dare I…and on and on in that vein for awhile. Being that I was working and value my job all I said was “I’m so sorry” about sixty times until she left. But on the inside I was fuming and I thought I would submit this to see what everyone’s take is on the matter. Did I say something insensitive or was she actually just bonkers?

Now, I’ve frequented this site enough to know that people like their details so here are a few:
-we are both female, she is 18, I am 25
-the customer was not being helped by either of us, she had actually just checked out with someone else and was walking by on her way out. She had one bag in a shopping cart and clearly wasn’t expecting help to her car or anything so we weren’t being neglectful in any way by hugging
-the hug lasted about thirty seconds
-the company I work for is famous for it’s informal atmosphere, they actively promote strong relationships between their employees (by which I mean friendships) if our CEO had been standing nearby he wouldn’t have been even slightly bothered by the hug
-the lady called my manager to complain and I did not get into any trouble
-the point I made jokingly to my manager was that I didn’t say “a person must be crazy to refuse a hug” only that I would be crazy, as in: if you knew me and heard me refuse a hug you would think “has she gone crazy?”

Okay, have at it!  0624-13

Congratulations.  You have encountered a meddling busybody on the warpath to find something to  be offended about.

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Auryn Grigori June 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Not that you owed her any explanation, but if you wanted to, you could say “I’m sorry if you misunderstood ma’am. I was indeed talking about myself, and not about anyone else, as I am a very huggy person, and it would be severely out of character for me to turn down a hug.”

But I am guessing that that particular lady was a real crab. I have a friend who has Aspergers, and she is the cuddliest person I know. But again, that is not everyone with Aspergers. Some are huggy, some are not. So it is kind of weird that she presumes to speak for all people with Aspergers.

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Stacey Frith-Smith June 25, 2013 at 10:09 pm

If you wanted to be a “perfect” practitioner of etiquette, you could consider purging yourself of casual use of terms like “crazy, stupid, retard” or anything else that is sometimes used as a pejorative, even in jest. That’s a bit of extra insurance worth adopting- but not worth stewing over.

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Alice June 25, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Some people are just looking for excuses to get offended. It’s like an atheist getting offended because someone says “Oh my God”, or “Bless you” after they sneeze, they’re common expressions, no need to get huffy over them.

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cathy June 25, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Some people are ridiculously over-sensitive and take everything personally – I think you handled it fine and I wouldn’t worry about it. Stacey’s advice is good, too – it never hurts to remove potential problem terms from your conversation in a work environment. You never know who’s listening.

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NostalgicGal June 25, 2013 at 11:50 pm

1) you didn’t touch the customer
2) what you were doing didn’t directly involve the customer (either by approaching, hugging, or initially engaging the customer in conversation)
3) you apologized whether or not you were wrong (that should cover things USUALLY)
4) the customer admitted they had issues and rolled on on her own agenda
5) the manager understood

I would take the comment about limiting the use of some words in public, (eyes roll) yes, be more PC, to heart. You didn’t do anything wrong per se, so roll with it. The customer was having a ‘bad hair day’.

In public service you run across a real gamut (don’t believe me look up that site for pictures of people at (big box store) and you’ll get an education). I don’t see where the OP did anything wrong.

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Noodle June 26, 2013 at 1:30 am

I second Auryn. My best friend has Asperger’s and he is much cuddlier than I am. I’m the more standoffish one of the two of us by far.

Honestly, I think she was looking to get offended. No matter how PC you attempt to be, there is always someone out there that will take offense to it. Please don’t beat yourself up over it.

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Alexa June 26, 2013 at 2:07 am

As someone with Aspergers (mildly though), I know that one thing that’s part of that syndrome is taking things people say lightly and making a big deal over them. I did that a lot in high school but I don’t know. With the people I hung out with in high school, there was a lot of pressure to be super-political all the time so that was seen as not just appropriate, but the only proper course of action. This is a good example of how those sorts of politic-obsessed groups and stuff really do more harm than good. In that sort of group, you might feel like you’re doing the right thing fighting for your rights, but if you’re doing it in a way that spreads tension and anger everywhere you go (even to people who aren’t even talking to you), are you really better off? No, especially considering that living like that isn’t even an effective way to “fight for rights” – it doesn’t make people want to support you, it just makes them angry (like the person who submitted this story).

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Alexa June 26, 2013 at 2:08 am

* I don’t *NOW*

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Waltzing Matilda June 26, 2013 at 2:40 am

Admin is right. Unfortunately, some people just walk around looking for something be offended by. I think that there are people out there who are particularly sensitive or insecure and think that whatever another person says must be aimed at them in some nasty / pejorative way. Don’t give it a second thought. I love the sound of your workplace, though. I work for a police department and we don’t.do.hugs ;o)

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EchoGirl June 26, 2013 at 2:40 am

OK, I have autism too and I can kind of see both sides. On the one hand, yes, she overreacted and it was way out of line. I’m not trying to justify her behavior.

On the other hand, many autistic people have lived their lives being told, implicitly and explicitly, that the way they think/feel/behave is wrong if it doesn’t line up with the NT way of doing things. Some have forms of PTSD or other emotional disorders as a result of this (I’m not exaggerating). Your comment was innocuous, OP, but it may have triggered memories of something else not so innocuous or it may have been the unintentionally placed straw that broke the camel’s back. I’d hesitate to dismiss her as a “busybody” without knowing more of the history there.

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Miss Merlot June 26, 2013 at 2:52 am

I would be more concerned about the over familiarity from my colleague!! But then I am an anally retentive Brit and therefore uncomfortable with any random hugs outside my immediate family…

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essie June 26, 2013 at 5:19 am

That poor lady! To go through life thinking “Asperger’s = Crazy”.

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Lo June 26, 2013 at 5:55 am

Crazy woman is crazy. Do not engage crazy.

From my own personal life experience, here’s how I see it: I don’t like to be touched. I take pills every day to stave off anxiety and depression. I see a therapist and a psychiatrist regularly. If someone called me crazy to insult I’d probably laugh it off but I’d think less of that person. If someone used crazy in casual conversation I wouldn’t think anything of it. Obviously different people have different experiences but I have to roll my eyes a little at folks who think that saying “nuts” or “crazy” in a broad sense is offensive to those of us who are mentally off-balance.
On other other hand my brother was a psych-major and he finds it offensive. He’d just never call anyone out on it. Except me of course. Ironically. So there you go.

But I have no problem applying the label to people who make a huge issue out of something like that. I mean you’ve got to work pretty hard to be offended by that. And some people are just DYING to be offended.

I continue to live by the life mantra, crazy people are crazy: do not engage crazy.

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Din June 26, 2013 at 6:26 am

I’m with Admin. And I *would* be crazy to turn down a hug. :D

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Allie June 26, 2013 at 7:00 am

Wow. This would like me randomly overhearing someone saying “I’d have to be crazy to say no to ice cream!” and me berating random person because “I’m lactose intolerant and how DARE you imply that we’re crazy.”

Also, don’t blame her being a jerk on Asperger’s. This lady is doing more to hurt those with Asperger’s because she’s giving the public impression that Asperger’s = jerk, which is an unfortunate stereotype that has developed. My dad works with kids with Asperger’s and those kids are not jerks!

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Pen^2 June 26, 2013 at 7:05 am

Wow, what a bucket of nastiness.

I hate being hugged by almost anyone, the exception being my spouse and my little brother. It’s just the way I am. But that’s irrelevant: the expression, “I’d be crazy not to …” isn’t a literal one! If the cashier had offered you a chocolate bar and you had said, “I’d be crazy not to want chocolate,” would that have been offensive to people who dislike chocolate? Of course not. The nasty busybody was just one of a miserable subset of the population who make it their job to find things to be offended about.

The hug itself, the informal atmosphere, and all the rest has nothing to do with it. It was a harmless thing to say and that’s that.

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The Elf June 26, 2013 at 7:09 am

Aspergers isn’t what makes her crazy……

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Anonymous June 26, 2013 at 7:10 am

It’s an expression. You did nothing wrong, and with most people on the autism spectrum (including Asperger’s, which is on the mild end), you can’t tell they have autism just by looking at them. However, two of the hallmarks of autism/Asperger’s Syndrome are taking things literally, which this woman did, and not picking up on social cues, like not interrupting/eavesdropping, which she also did. I think you did all right, but you would have been fine to just let it go, and ignore that woman’s comments.

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The Elf June 26, 2013 at 7:11 am

I agree with NostalgicGal – this woman was having an off day. Your manager had your back and that’s what counts. I wouldn’t think any more on it.

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Jewel June 26, 2013 at 7:22 am

You used a common phrase with which 99.99% of the population would have zero issue. She was just looking for offense and you were her handy target. The only thing I’d have done differently than you would have been to apologize *ONCE* and then stand silently and stiffly giving her the “thousand yard stare” through the rest of her harrangue. When she finally finished, I would have nodded my head coldly at her as I turned to walk away or give her a sickeningly sweet smile while wishing her a great rest of the day.

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Roslyn June 26, 2013 at 8:31 am

As my son says, “You never know the troll is there until they jump out at you.” Trolls are everywhere these days, and I agree with others, some are just troll-oll-olling around waiting to be offended by someone. If you are so easily offended by an off handed comment that wasn’t in any way pointed in your direction, then maybe you should wear a giant sign that says, “Caution, easily offended by……everything!”

I guess I’m more creeped out by a 30 second hug. I have never hugged a stranger or co-worker for 30 seconds. Husband yes, strangers no.

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Cat June 26, 2013 at 8:45 am

I have a friend whose son has Asperger’s, and I never thought of him as mentally ill. He just perceives things differently and has different reactions from the rest of us, as do people who are color blind (ie for red-green color blindness, bottom light vs. green light on traffic lights).
My forty year- old friend, who has a great job and a wonderful income, cannot replace her ancient, and falling-apart, automobile and buy a new car because her mother won’t “let” her. To me, that’s crazy and it has nothing to do with a mental illness or defect.
The woman over-reacted to a remark not made to offend her or, indeed, to be offensive to anyone. You did nothing wrong.

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Shalamar June 26, 2013 at 8:46 am

I once accidentally stepped on a woman’s foot in a department store. I immediately apologized, and she said “That’s fine.” So far, so good … then she continued “EVERYONE steps on me. NO-ONE sees me. It’s like I’m INVISIBLE and no-one CARES about me and I might as well be DEAD and …” The whole time, her voice was getting higher and higher, until the entire store (or so it seemed) was staring at us. A store employee showed up and gently escorted her out, while I stood there and said “What the heck just happened?”

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Lilac June 26, 2013 at 8:50 am

As a parent of a son with (mild) Aspergers I find it interesting that she equates autism with “crazy.” My son is certainly not crazy. In fact, he is incredibly sane. I have to remind him to not talk like a robot sometimes. He gets hyper-logical sometimes and his mind buzzs along like a super computer–the next evolutionary leap for humans lol.
I do understand why people object to the word “retard.” That word does have an extremely negative connotation that seems inextricably linked to people with a mental disability and sounds like a pejorative. I feel uncomfortable even typing it.
I would put “crazy” in another class. I don’t think many people use it to describe people with actual mental health issues. I think it’s mostly used to describe someone WITHOUT mental health issues whose behavior is way outside the norm for reasonable behavior. The new definition for “crazy” seems to be “people behaving outrageously who absolutely should know better.” These people are usually acting out of anger, deplorable manners, selfishness, a sense of entitlement, etc. Check out notalwaysright.com for hundreds of mind-boggling examples.

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Jen June 26, 2013 at 8:55 am

As Alexa said, one of the aspects of Aspergers is to take things a lot more seriously than they are meant. So though you were not out of line or insensitive for your comment about being crazy to turn down a hug, I feel that your “was she just bonkers?” question was insensitive to her condition (much akin to someone asking why someone with clinical depression won’t “just cheer up and get happy”)

I had a similar situation happen to me recently where I gave someone feedback at an event for being rude to the guest of honor and a person with Aspergers who is friends with that person was standing nearby. The person with Aspergers took the feedback to apply to her as well and was practically in tears later to the guest of honor because she was worried she had done something horribly offensive, but I wasn’t even addressing her when I gave the feedback. I was confused by this turn of events because, at the time, I didn’t know this individual has Aspergers, but after I was informed, I had a conversation with her to clarify things and now we’re friends. :)

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Michellep June 26, 2013 at 9:37 am

OP you did nothing wrong. Admin is spot on as usual.

Side note: I agree with Stacey Frith-Smith about eliminating the word retarded. It is not the same as crazy. It’s derogatory and offensive. I had a stepbrother with Down Syndrome and I cannot stand that word. I got into more trouble growing up fighting people (I was a tomboy kid) who picked on him than everything else put together. I wouldn’t, however, especially as an adult to a stranger, rant and rave about someone using it.

I’m taken aback at the posters that are “creeped out” and concerned about the “over familiarity of the colleague”. The hug didn’t “happen” to you. If you don’t like hugs from people there are polite ways to back out of it. If the OP didn’t mind it you shouldn’t.

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Bee June 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

@Stacey Frith-Smith: Just FYI, purging the word “retard” from your vocabulary doesn’t have to do with being a “‘perfect’ practitioner of etiquette.” It has to do with being a decent human being. Whether or not your other examples are inappropriate for a workplace depends entirely on that workplace, but “retard” is never appropriate for anything, ever, at all, full stop, no exceptions, nobody cares that you (general you, not you specifically, SF-S) were just kidding around, it’s not okay.

I’m really not trying to attack you–just pointing this out, as this is a hugely loaded word that has a deeply upsetting meaning for a specific community. Check out Special Olympian John Franklin Stephens’ response to Ann Coulter after she called President Obama a “retard”: http://specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/an-open-letter-to-ann-coulter/ And here’s another of his posts about the word: http://www.denverpost.com/commented/ci_10351963

There are some words that should not be used, at least not by those of us who haven’t had to deal with the history and connotations of that word for our entire lives. (See: racists whining that black people are “allowed” to use the n-word, but white people “aren’t allowed” and that’s “not fair.” Eyeroll.) “Crazy” is probably not one of those words, and I agree with everyone else that the woman in the story was out of line. Neither are “stupid,” “dumb,” “silly,” or “nuts” inappropriate, at least in most casual situations. But “retard”? Definitely hateful, definitely inappropriate, definitely not okay. Let’s all drop that one.

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DaisyG June 26, 2013 at 9:46 am

As others said: Crazy woman is crazy; don’t engage the crazy.

Interesting fact: Most hugs only last 3 seconds and most people overestimate this.

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startruck June 26, 2013 at 9:53 am

i dont know much about aspergers, but that might lend me to be more understanding and brush it off. but no you didnt do anything wrong and some people are just out looking to find something to complain about. at least you have a funny story to tell people now.lol

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Jen G June 26, 2013 at 9:55 am

The thirty second hug sounded a bit odd to me too, but I’m guessing that the OP is in Portland, Oregon. Portland is full of crazy people, mostly of the fun variety but we get the occasional cranky-crazy as well. I agree that OP was fine and the complainer is just a grump.

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LonelyHound June 26, 2013 at 9:57 am

OP, this is where I get out my Dammit Doll (no joke! they really have these!). This was really a no win situation for you. You said something the majority of the population says in reference to themselves, not others, and someone eavesdropping got offended. You went above the situation, and even though you are not at fault, you apologized. Honestly, all you can really do now are three things: 1. modify your speech (Of course! I love hugs!); 2. Go home, get out your Dammit Doll and take out frustration there; 3. Marvel at the absurdity of it and then dismiss it as a learning experience.

My parents got me the Dammit Doll when I was in high school. I did not (and still have trouble with) saying/doing the right thing to prevent socially awkward situations. When those situations would happen, instead of sulking or being upset, I’d take out my Dammit Doll, hit my bed a few times and then never think about it again. Good friends helped me improve dramatically socially and the Dammit Doll helped me to move past situations where I said/did something wrong or people made fun of my awkwardness.

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OP June 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

I shouldn’t have written 30 seconds. I meant only that it was a very short hug. More like 2 seconds I guess. We squeezed each other and immediately let go. I was trying to clarify that it WASN’T inappropriate and I picked the wrong number to say. I’m a hugger. It doesn’t bother me that she wanted a hug. Our company is California based and steeped in surfer culture. We get corporate e-mails all the time of stories from customers and most of them are about little things like someone offering a hug upon hearing that the customer lost a loved one. It’s our schtick.

I also should have added that I don’t blame her “Asperger’s” for her rudeness. I know people on all ends of the autism spectrum (my father is a social worker) and I’ve seen plenty who would love a good hug. I only included it because it was HER rationale for being offended.

But thanks for the feedback all!

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Politrix June 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

You did fine, OP. Don’t let a random busybody continue to live rent-free in your mind.
Though I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if someone hummed a few bars of Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” while she was throwing her hissyfit ;)

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Lisa June 26, 2013 at 10:10 am

Don’t let one rainy day cloud your sunny disposition; you did NOTHING wrong

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Helen June 26, 2013 at 10:13 am

What was obviously implicit in your statement was the phrase “from you.”

You also said “I would be crazy.”

What you said was in no way judgmental of anyone else. Further, it’s a common phrase.

That person had something else going on and she picked on you because she felt she could. Kudos to your boss for ignoring her.

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Lisa June 26, 2013 at 10:18 am

Another thought; what if I said “I love pizza”; does that mean I’m in love with pizza and want to have a relationship with pizza or that I just like how it tastes? What if I said ‘I’m starving”; does that mean I am malnourished or just hungry? I think you can take PC too far. Perhaps her Asperger’s causes her to be more sensitive, but nothing wrong happened here.

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Lauren June 26, 2013 at 10:25 am

Oh please, I’ve noticed that the people who are loudly offended are (almost all of the time) completely horrible people themselves and probably don’t give a darn about the feelings of anyone other than themselves.

I worked with a woman once whose mother had mental problems, and she would get all offended if we used the word ‘crazy.’ Her best friend at work got upset if we used the word ‘moron’ (which we pretty much used when being self deprecatory -“I’m such a moron, I forgot to call so-and-so back”) because her sister was mentally handicapped.

Looking back, I think they did this because it was they wanted attention, and also because of the overall group dynamic. I worked with a lot of attention seeking hypochondriacs, who if nobody did anything truly offensive, they would make up something (as many of you have mentioned above.)

I just have to tell you all bout the real crazy advertising girl we had working there. All the expats from the company love to mention her antics when we get together.

Krystel was seriously out to find something to be offended by. A few of the offenses I witnessed were:
1. We weren’t recycling paper all of the time. She would run around and bitch at people if they accidentally threw away one piece of paper in the wrong bin. If you argued with her (or even made a joke to get her to lighten up) she got upset because we didn’t respect her. (We didn’t respect her.)
2. The lady running the gift shop cleaned too much and the clean smell bothered her. She was obviously doing it on purpose to annoy people! Krystel was OFFENDED.
3. The sandwich guy in the cafeteria wiped his knife with a dirty rag and used too much mustard. He did this on purpose to her because he didn’t like her. (That one is actually believable- nobody liked her)
4. My boss had us all over to his house and bought us all lobsters for lunch. She was in tears and wanted to free them, because they were living creatures. She made a big deal about how sensitive she was (disrupting things for a bit) while wailing about how he was so insensitive to her for serving these! Oh and this girl eats chicken, fish, hamburger, and turkey. I know – guessing her next issue is really a crap shoot.

Her insane stupidity aside, she was a truly horribly mean person to others. She was incredibly insensitive when it came to other people. For example: she got mad at a woman whose mother had just died because she didn’t feel the death of Krystel’s cat was on the same level as her losing her mother. (Debate this if you want, but when someone is grieving, you have to throw a hissy fit about respecting her cat? Call her in six months, not while she is planning a funeral) When a co-worker brought in her baby to meet everyone Krystal dismissively said (in front of the mother) that she prefers pets to babies.

I have friends that worked there and left and whomever I run into, she is always a favorite topic of conversation. Nobody ever says “Remember how sensitive she was?,” they all say how they can’t believe how INsensitive she was to everyone around her.

So maybe we should all remember advertising department Krystel when we feel we should voice our offense at something. Maybe we are the ones being offensive with our insane issues.

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Angela June 26, 2013 at 10:26 am

The OP was fine. Hey, your colleague asked instead of just grabbing you!
I understand some people with Aspergers tend to take things way too literally. That’s not your problem, though.

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AMC June 26, 2013 at 10:33 am

OP, you didn’t do anything wrong. I think a reasonable person would understand that you were not making a judgement about people with disabilities or mental illness. I think phrases like “That’s crazy!” or “Are you insane?” are fairly common but not at all meant to be offensive to those struggling with mental illness. What you said was innocent and innocuous. The woman was looking for something to be offended about. Perhaps someone had said something to her earlier that day about her disability that actually *was* offensive, and she was still feeling raw about it. That’s still no excuse for taking one’s anger out on an innocent bystander.

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lakey June 26, 2013 at 10:35 am

I disagree with the idea that we should be more politically correct and stop using an innocuous word like “crazy”.
When we cave in to this kind of unreasonable demand we aren’t improving our society, we’re just encouraging people to be unreasonable.
Also, I had a student who had Asperger’s Syndrome, and an inlaw has a brother who is autistic. They have it tough, but the truth is they have to learn to handle real life issues.

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AngiePange June 26, 2013 at 10:35 am

I am not a big hugger and even my closest friends and family battle to get me to hug – and forget the very French cheek peck, its not happening. That being said, if someone said “anyone who hates hugs is crazy (or nuts, or mad, or loo-loo)” I would laugh – because yeah, I’m not a huggy person … but holy crap I do not CARE if you use what is quite a common expression – even if you made it apply to every single person in the world ever. Its called a tongue in cheek remark, almost a joke. People need to lighten up. I am all for manners, and be politically correct, but within limits. What if an overweight person is nearby? Do you refrain from saying things like “fat chance” or “you risk a hefty fine if you park illegally” or how about any reference to “big”, “massive”, “thin”, etc? My fiance and I once went to a car dealership and the salesperson only had one arm. My fiance kept accidentally saying stuff like “let me give you a hand with that” and “I like arm myself against things going wrong” and (my personal best, the one that had me almost crawling out of the room) “you can pat yourself on the back, you’ve made a sale!” … if he’d apologised for these faux pas (and trust me, it really was unintentional and the salesperson wasn’t phased or offended) it would have drawn attention to the guy’s disability and probably made him feel bad (fiance got a good bawling out on the way home from ME). I actually HAVE a mental disease and, I suppose, technically, I am crazy. But gee wowzer, as nuts as I am I will NEVER take it upon myself to assume offence because someone dares use the word crazy.

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lakey June 26, 2013 at 10:40 am

Wow, Shalamar, obviously there was something else going on with that woman that you had nothing to do with.
When I was in the grocery store the other day, the customer ahead of me in the checkout line had, in addition to her few groceries, a plastic grocery bag with something in it. The poor cashier asked her if it was a return. The customer ripped into her about how it was an item she had purchased at another store and that she wasn’t stealing anything. The poor cashier was mortified, and she hadn’t said anything other than “Is that a return?”
Is it just me, or is there an increase in people over-reacting like this?

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Sarah Jane June 26, 2013 at 10:54 am

Stacey Frith-Smith, I have never equated the word “crazy” with the word “retard .” When I use the word “crazy”, it does not identify with any sort of mental illness…usually I’m just referring to someone who is outrageously unreasonable. To me, the word “retard” is different, as it seems to make a joke out of a legitimate disability. But I see your point.

Roslyn, I agree…thirty seconds is a mighty long hug! Perhaps the OP just threw out a number that seemed insignificant at the time.

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Lerah99 June 26, 2013 at 10:57 am

Everyone has their buttons. Everyone has their hot topics.
For example, mine was the word “Fat”.
I’m a really heavy woman (5’3″ and 338lbs). I have spent a long time destigmatizing the word “fat” in my own brain.

When I was younger, the word fat had all these negative and shameful connotations. Now that I’m older, fat is now just a descriptive word like brunette, tan, or short.

When I was younger, if a friend who weighed significantly less than I did said things like “I’ve gotten so fat. I have to go to the gym. My thighs are so gross. etc…” I would get VERY upset. Because while my friend was talking about herself, I felt I was also being judged. And since I was fatter than her, obviously I was even more gross than she felt herself to be.

It took me years to gain some clarity and realize my friend had her own body issues. And her self shame did not reflect how she felt about me at all.

I believe this woman you encountered has an issue with the word “crazy”.
Her rant really had nothing to do with you and everything to do with the pain that word has caused her in the past.

File this under “haters gonna hate” and move on with your day.

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Tsunoba June 26, 2013 at 11:31 am

Quoting Poster 18, Anonymous:

“However, two of the hallmarks of autism/Asperger’s Syndrome are taking things literally, which this woman did, and not picking up on social cues, like not interrupting/eavesdropping, which she also did.”

YES. As another person with AS, I can tell you that taking things literally has definitely caused some problems in the past for me!

There’s a sign on the bus that says “No drinking from non-approved containers,” which means no fast food drink cups with flimsy lids, just water bottles and stuff like that.

I took this to mean that you can bring any kind of drink container on the bus, and as long as you don’t actually drink from the flimsy ones, it’s fine. After all, the sign says “drinking,” which is a verb, which means they forbid an action. If they had wanted the containers themselves banned, they’d say “drinks,” as in the noun. Someone had to explain to me that they were, in fact, banning the containers. Which makes me really tempted to try to follow the literal interpretation of the sign, and to argue the point when the driver tries to make me throw it away. But I’m too afraid of being kicked off the bus and having to wait for another one.

Back on topic, I can’t help but wonder if the woman has been diagnosed by a doctor, or if she’s one of those people that has done a self-diagnosis and now uses this as an excuse to be a jerk, like so many people on the internet do.

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Wowsers June 26, 2013 at 11:35 am

Some folks live in a bubble (and I don’t mean to offend those folks who *do*have to live in a bubble for health reasons!!! :-) ) Some people honestly thinks the world revolves around them, and I’m not even talking in a selfish sense, just that they have no real concept that there is a whole world out there that has nothing to do with them—so everything done or everything said, every show on tv, every joke ever made–they think is directed at them and so, they must respond. I would say, when these sorts of things happen, to smile politely and walk away. Unless the woman was talking to you about your WORK, I would just say, “gotta get back to work” and ignore the situation unless your boss brings it up. Tell what happened, and leave it at that.

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Jess June 26, 2013 at 11:58 am

This woman was not involved in the conversation, and therefore was eavesdropping. You did not make a comment about people in general, only yourself, so for her to comment I feel was very disrespectful to you.

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EllenS June 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm

When you eavesdrop, you never hear anything that will make you happy. This woman was the rude one, because 1) she was listening in on someone else’s conversation, that had nothing to do with her; 2) she made it obvious to the speakers that she was eavesdropping; 3) she intruded on a private conversation to make it about herself; 4) she used her position as a customer to intimidate and harass someone in a subordinate (worker) position.

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EchoGirl June 26, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Sorry, I should probably elaborate more on what I meant. The course of autism “therapies” are often focused on making the autistic person seem more NT at the cost of repressing perfectly natural and harmless behaviors and often forcing autistic people into uncomfortable situations. As essie said, many of us “go through life thinking “Asperger’s = Crazy””, or at least that autistic behavior=wrong.

I would not confront someone in a store over a comment like “I’d have to be crazy to turn down a hug!” or even comments that are more offensive (I’m not a confrontational person), nor do I condone it, but I might think to myself “they have no clue how that sounds from my perspective” to hear something that implies my way of being is wrong after being told that my whole life.

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Ergala June 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm

In public service you run into these people. Once when I was 16 I was working at a drug store and I said “Oh no…help” when I was developing film. There was an issue. A woman perusing the candy at the counter immediately started screaming at me thinking I said “hell”….she went on and on about how I was extremely bad for swearing, that she was going to contact my boss….you name it. I tried to explain I said HELP not HELL….but she instead accused me of lying. My coworker who I had asked to HELP me was so shocked he couldn’t even say a word in my defense. I was in tears by the time she was done with me. I hear Hell and Crap so often that I don’t even think of them as swears. I don’t let my kids say those words obviously but to me they are the least offensive curse word you can utter. I don’t police people.

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