Autistic Living, Part 3

I found a clause on the ninth page of my contract which said the company would organise the relocation for staff members transferring to other sites. As a non-driver, I jumped on this. I was hoping that they would find me a van I could put everything in, instead the manager drove me himself in his car. The move also happened two weeks earlier than planned, perhaps he was keen to get rid of me. Either way, it solved my problem.

One of the skills I picked up from the cruise ships is the ability to pack and unpack quickly. I simply don’t understand the people that take two weeks to pack a suitcase for their weekend away, I can pack up everything I own in 45 mins. So it was, the posh hotel closed in the morning, and I was in my new flat in a new town that evening. It was all a whirlwind but as I knew it was coming, I was prepared, and the move was fine.

The flat itself is just round the corner from the rural pub I am working at. The company only bought it earlier this year and I am the first permanent resident. It is very large (four bedrooms) plus a big kitchen, to be frank, it is much too big for me but I am enjoying living alone. It took me two weeks to realise it would be safe to leave groceries in the cupboard, nobody would steal them as there was nobody else there. I noticed that I am close enough to the market square that my flat, or at least the bits of my flat I use, benefit from the town’s free wi-fi.

I requested a kettle and a toaster (neither of which were already there) and I was settling in nicely until the builders arrived. Apparently, now the building is occupied it needed to be fitted with emergency lighting and an upgraded fire alarm system. Why this couldn’t have been done while the building was empty remains unclear.

The work took more than a week and happened before and after the bank holiday weekend so for three days, I had floorboards up and holes in the ceiling. They left nails on the floor for me to stand on, plaster covered everything I owned and, on the Friday, they left my front door open all evening (while I was at work). They ate their lunch at my kitchen table and used all my toilet roll for their plastering. It is fair to say I wasn’t getting on well with the builders. On the last night, they were still banging around until 8:15pm. Who knew builders worked that late?

Anyway, It took me nearly a week to clear up all the mess since they left but at least they have gone and my peace has returned. That was until the building report arrived…

They have found asbestos…

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Autistic Living Part 2

               “So, what do you actually want to do?” This was the very reasonable question put to me by the lady from HR. I didn’t feel I could tell her the truth which was, ‘I don’t really mind, I’ll do whatever you tell me to’.

               The posh hotel is closing. We all knew it was coming. It was supposed to be happening since 2018 and because of that nothing has been maintained in years. There are four rooms that can’t be sold due to leaks in the roof, pictures are being hung in unusual places to cover up holes in the walls or damp patches, the fuses blow frequently and most of the woodwork is rotten. In fact, during the heatwave, I opened a window and the whole frame fell out. We have all become experts at distracting people from all this to such an extent that people more often complained about the state of the carpets or age of the curtains rather than the more serious structural issues.

               We received our redundancy notices a few months earlier. I was asked to be an employee representative, I declined and quickly booked holiday I didn’t really want just so they couldn’t ask me again. I didn’t want to be responsible for myself let alone everyone else too.

yuck

               I was not too worried. I have moved hotels before and every few days there is a news story about severe staff shortages in the hospitality sector (along with most other sectors). I felt sure I would get something. My problem is admin. My autistic brain can’t cope with lots of choices and I find form filling very stressful. Because of my admin fears, it seems much easier to stay with the company and move to one of their other various establishments around the country, rather than look elsewhere (too many options).

               In preparing for my meeting with the lady from HR, the only things I had decided was that a) I wanted somewhere that included a place to live and b) I wanted to get off the minimum wage. Where the hotel was, doesn’t seem to important and neither does the work itself. I figured, they have access to enough of my appraisals to decide what I can and can’t do. I told her all this and she just looked at me in a confused manner.

               “So, what do you actually want to do?” That question again. To waste time, I got a little notebook out of my pocket and opened it at a page that had writing on. The writing was irrelevant to the conversation – bus times for a place I lived years ago – but it gave me time to think of something to say.

More yuck

               “I think I would like to be an Assistant Manager at somewhere not too big”. Was this actually what I wanted? No idea.

               Three days later, the manager of a rural pub came to interview me. It occurred to me that the fact he has come to visit me and that it was so soon, meant that I would get the job. He was clearly desperate. In fact, he told me that the position had been vacant for a while and nobody else had applied. I didn’t mind a bit. We chatted for a while and then he offered me the job. I accepted it without a second thought. In hindsight, perhaps it would have been better to go and visit the rural pub, after all I would be living there too and I really don’t know the area, but it seemed like a solution to the problem and that was fine. Five days after my meeting with the lady from HR, I signed the contract.

               Shortly after that, I realised that I don’t really know what being the assistant manager of a rural pub actually involves…

On The Fringe

I have been visiting the Edinburgh festival for years. Not just the comedy but the films, plays, books, exhibitions and street performances too. I try and stay away from the famous names and instead go for things that catch my imagination. The scale of it is vast (over 55,000 performances across 317 venues) as is the quality. Everything from professionally designed high quality extravaganzas through to things that are essentially ‘people messing around’ in basements.

Memorable moments from my last few visits include

  • A comedy show with only three of us in the audience (the other two didn’t speak English)
  • A version of Jekyll and Hyde from the perspective of the monster performed as an interpretive dance
  • Something performed in a hotel pool where the audience members were invited to swim with the cast members

Very often I choose shows depending on what is closest and starting shortly. A few years ago I was walking down a street when it started raining so heavily, I rushed into the nearest foyer and ended up at a show so terrible, the performer stopped to tell the sound technician to ‘please sigh more quietly’.

However, as an autistic person, the Edinburgh festival can present a lot of problems. They can be hard to plan as so many things run late, plus there is a lot of noise, many venues are incredibly hot and of course, there are so many people there.

This year, the festival was a tough one for me. On the first morning, I got lost and ended up rushing to see a 10am show. Because I was away from my regular routine and overstimulated with the noise and crowds, I turned badly and twisted my hip causing a lot of pain. Over the next few hours, my body must have tried to adapt and so my other hip was overcompensating and that started to get very sore as well, meaning I had to adopt a slow shuffle as I moved from place to place. Edinburgh is not an accessible city. It has a lot of steps, steep slopes, busy roads and that is before you add in the festival crowds. To top it all off, I got my dates mixed up so the 10am show I rushed to see wasn’t actually on.

One particular moment was when I arrived at the main entrance of the Assembly Rooms (the normal home of the university) to see Choir of Man, a show I knew had been on in London and the main selling point was a working bar on stage which the audience members could use to get free beer. Obviously, without the ‘free’ beer, the ticket prices would be cheaper.

Anyway, the way into the show was up a huge stone staircase which with my twisted hips was impossible. I asked the lady at the entrance what I should do and she kindly explained the best way was round the side (up a hill) where I could use the accessible entrance. Although when I tried to do this, I was stopped by a security guard who told me I couldn’t pass due to the upcoming tattoo parade and instead I should ‘use the stairs’.

So back I shuffled round three sides of this huge building, fighting against the noisy crowds and after being given wrong directions by two different stewards I eventually found the accessible entrance and was put into a service lift which led me to the backstage area. Judging by the reactions of the various staff members, I got the feeling they were unused to this scenario. It was exciting being backstage in such a large theatre as people rushed by with large pieces of equipment. I was quite happy observing this show but following a hushed meeting of the various staff members, it was decided I should wait in the bar instead. This was fine, I said, how do I get there? Just down the stairs, came the reply. Another clue that this scenario was a new one for them.

The only way to get there without the stairs was through the sound booth where the audio engineers were working on another show (a very impressive street dance troop) and I shuffled through, giving them all a fright in the process. The bar was a temporary affair set up in the middle of a huge regal hall and I was the only customer. The bartender came over to chat to me (I don’t think she had anything else to do) and I asked who was the man immortalised in a large painting in the centre of the wall. “I don’t know, probably some colonial slave owner” came the response.

The show itself was fine, a rowdy singalong affair, all the characters were introduced even though there was no storyline, much of the time was taken up by the free beer queue but the audience didn’t seem to mind, they were having a great time. I think I would have preferred to watch the performance from the backstage corridor I was in earlier but maybe that says more about me than the show itself.

I decided that would be my last night in Edinburgh and I would go home the following day. There will be many more festivals and I can come back another year when I am feeling better. This is what I did and typically, the day after I got back, my hips went back to normal.

Thinking back on it, despite everything, I did have a good time this year.

  • A talented seagull snatched a sandwich out of my hand without leaving a mark
  • There was a ‘meal deal’ advertising a glass of wine and a Snickers bar for £4.50
  • I asked for the autograph of a composer to be told nobody does that anymore.  

Next year, however, I will be more careful to check my dates and not rush to things that are not on.

Autistic Living

* Less than half of autistic adults live independently

* 78.3% of autistic adults are unemployed

The reasons behind these facts are complicated but it is true that for many single autistic people such as me, true independence is hard.

I am lucky that I have always managed to find a job. Now, the market is in my favour, there are jobs everywhere. I work in the hospitality industry, and it feels like every hotel, every resort, every restaurant, everybody is hiring. Getting the job is easy. It’s keeping the job that is harder.

Routine is important and unexpected changes are difficult to deal with, workplaces can be full of these. Autistic people are not always great at teamwork but can often be brilliant researchers with an eye for details that others often miss.

Living in the hotel means a lot of white bed sheets are available…

However, my struggle is housing. I realised a long time ago that I don’t think I will ever be able to get my own house. Even if I won the lottery, the process of finding a place, doing the legal paperwork, arranging utilities, dealing with any building work and sourcing furniture is too much for me. The idea of all that turns me cold. I can understand why so many autistic people stay with family forever or end up in some kind of assisted living, it’s just easier.

My solution is different, I live at work. One of the great things about working in hotels is that there is often staff accommodation. Furnished rooms with utilities included and an on-site maintenance team to deal with problems, it really is a great situation for me. Often, I get free food from the restaurant too – but does this count as independent living? Probably not…

So, what happens when you loose your job? The home goes too… This happened to me a few years ago (during the start of the covid crisis) when I was given three days notice that both my job and my flat were being taken away from me. It took me a long time to get over that. In fact, for more than two years afterwards, I carried on checking my work emails, it was still part of my routine.

Then late last year, I got a job in the posh hotel with a lovely room to stay in. Things were going well until mid-summer 2022 when it was announced the hotel was closing and I received a letter of redundancy.

To be continued…

First-Aid-O-Phobia

There are many weird and wonderful phobias around. Some are well known, some are not….

  • Chirophobia – fear of hands
  • Nomophobia – fear of not having your mobile phone
  • Xanthophobia – fear of the colour yellow
  • Omphalophobia – fear of belly buttons
  • Arachibutyrophobia – fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth

My phobia is a fear of first aid. Not getting it, I have no problem with the idea of somebody putting my arm in a sling, putting my hand in cold water or giving me an eye wash. It is the providing of first aid which causes me so much grief.

My autistic brain finds the unplanned nature of having to deal with medical emergencies so terrifying that I actually feint. Working with the public means I am expected to get training every two years, by my calculations, this means I must have done at least 10 or 12 first aid courses and I never got through one without feinting.

The first time it happened was at high school, our entire year were put on a day long course. Most people got a document saying they had ‘gained a level two certification’, others got level one. My certificate said I had ‘attended a first aid course’.

Why is there a fork here?

The bits I can do:

  • Putting a colleague into the recovery position, although I am usually told off for rushing, yet none of my colleagues ever seem to mind getting it over with
  • Applying bandages to imaginary wounds
  • Chest compressions to the rhythm of Staying Alive by the Bee Gees (not a bad song choice for a first aid course, better than Knocking on Heavens Door which is too slow)

The bits I can’t do

  • Listen to the instructor talking.

This always makes me start sweating, feel light headed, turn so pale I resemble somebody from the instructional videos and eventually fall to the ground.

This bit it quite fun – just don’t ask me about EpiPen’s….

At least now I am aware of the pattern, I know when I am no longer able to see straight, I have to get out. I generally hide in the toilets until I think the instructor will have stopped talking and the class will have moved onto something else.

On my most recent course, I pretended to take a ‘very important’ phone call on my mobile, meaning I had to leave the room quickly “I didn’t want to cause a disruption”. I must have been gone for about ten minutes but sadly the veins and arteries chat was still going on so I was forced to pretend to take a second ‘very important’ phone call. Luckily, nobody ever calls me so I was in no danger of the phone going off for real.

It is curious that I am never given a choice about this. Simply having done the training course, does not mean I will be any use in an emergency, there are many examples of me failing to deal with a crisis, my preferred method is hiding and hoping somebody else will turn up, which they (touch wood) have always done.

Despite having missed very significant sections of the course I still passed. However, this morning I learned that because my certificate failed to arrive from the awards body, I will be required to do the course again.

I did the sensible thing and deleted that email. My plan is to pretend I never saw it and hope the manager forgets. Wish me luck.

Travels with Dudley, Eunice & Franklin (part three)

I was woken up at 6:15am by a text message telling me that the ferry was cancelled again. Because of the storms, I had become stranded in Belfast meaning that I had missed a day of work and couldn’t afford a second day of ‘unauthorised absence’. So with there being no ferries, I had no choice, I would have to fly.

I had sworn never to go back to an airport since I left cruise ships in 2018. One of ways my autism presents itself is an over sensitivity to sound, another is crowds. Airports (being both crowded and noisy) are horrible.

My flight wasn’t until mid afternoon but since the weather was awful (surprise, surprise) and I had my luggage with me, I decided it would be easier to get an early bus. I was very pleased with myself for finding the correct stop and the correct bus without my usual planning and settled in for a nap to pass the 40-minute journey. I woke up to see a peacock staring at me.

The staring peacock

The terminal was just as terrible as I expected. Around eight flights were checking in and only two desks were open. As is increasingly normal in departure halls, there were no chairs. I had plenty of time so sat in a café that was closed, until a cleaner told me to leave. The reason, he informed me, that I couldn’t stay there was ‘because of covid’. I didn’t ask any further questions.

One coping mechanism I have developed is finding somewhere quiet. It is rarely difficult to find a quiet space not far away. In the case of Belfast airport, this place was the arrivals terminal (just next door) where I sat in a quiet café for two hours. This (open) café must have had a lower covid risk than the previous (closed) one.

When it was time to check in, the departures hall was even worse than when I left. People and noise everywhere. Another coping mechanism that I have found is headphones playing music which I can regulate and drown out the chanting football fans, yelling hen parties and screaming babies that all wanted to fly at the same time as me. Half an hour later, I was at the front of the queue and my brain was fried. The lady at check in needed my boarding pass, which I didn’t have. By this point, I couldn’t explain and just stared blankly. After what seemed like an eternity, the lady at check in just printed out a boarding pass for me, slapped it on the desk and wordlessly pointed towards departures.

The worst was yet to come. Airport security. The most miserable place imaginable. I am sure there is a policy meaning anyone who smiles here is fired. This is one of the very few places where it is impossible to escape the crowds and the noise. It is also very hard to plan ahead. Will I need to take my shoes off? What about coats? Will laptops need separating? The answers to all these kinds of questions seem to depend on the mood of the officer on duty at the time.

My toothpaste was confiscated. It was a 125ml tube (the maximum is 100ml). The fact it was more than half used didn’t matter. I am still fairly unsure how much of a risk toothpaste is to aircraft security, how many dental cleaning based aviation incidents have there been? I also subscribe to the conspiracy theory that confiscating bottled water is a sneaky way of boosting revenue for the airport – why else is the water so much more expensive on the other side of security? Plus, if it is ok to take baby milk through on condition of tasting, why can’t that apply to all liquids?

Anyway, having to take my headphones off at the last moment makes me very aware of all the noise. The National Autistic Society says people with oversensitivity to sound are likely to experience

  • noise can be magnified and sounds become distorted and muddled
  • may be able to hear conversations in the distance
  • inability to cut out sounds – notably background noise – leading to difficulties concentrating. 

I can strongly relate to all of this and do all I can not to shut down entirely. Luckily, the staff don’t pay me too much attention and my baggage went through the machine without a problem. Upon unpacking the bag, I found a large pair of scissors that I had brought with me (and really shouldn’t have got through). Clearly large scissors are safer than half used tubes of toothpaste.

Once through the other side, I found an empty departure gate away from the football fans, hen parties and howling babies where I could decompress for a while.

Even though it was only a couple of weeks ago, I can’t really remember what happened next. I assume I got the plane and then the train home but my brain had melted. I slept for 16 hours that night and woke up hoping I will never have to go in an airport ever again.

Oh What A Circus

In my ongoing discovery of what it means to be autistic, I have often come across the idea that autistic people take things literally. I have always thought this is one that didn’t apply to me. After all, I enjoy a bit of sarcasm… However, this week I saw a circus big top arriving in town and it reminded me of a time where my ‘taking things literally’ caused a major (if unusual) problem.

It must have been about 2004 and at the time I was working for the radio station, it was a really exciting time in my life and my work meant there was always something crazy going on. We were the only radio station in the area and so anything that happened on ‘our patch’ always involved us, meaning we got a lot of free stuff.

Because I had no money, I accepted every offer going no matter how rubbish the thing was. I have blogged before about how I opened a branch of Subway, went backstage at music events I knew I would hate and got some free cholesterol testing kits. None of this mattered, it was free and exciting. So when the circus came to town, complimentary tickets came my way and I shared them with the team.

For the purposes of this, I am going to change the name of my boss to Paul as he is still working on the radio and doesn’t need people like me bringing up idiotic stories from years ago. So, Paul was my boss at the time and became a good friend. He is a very generous man and I would often go into work very early and help out on his program, answering the phones and researching items. I wasn’t paid for this but it didn’t matter, I loved it and Paul’s team were great company.

In the days running up to this, Paul said he was going to be the ringmaster and open the circus from the back of an elephant. In retrospect, this was clearly a joke. He is a radio DJ and not a member of a travelling circus. However, my autistic brain didn’t register this and that evening I announced on my program that Paul would be riding an elephant at the circus. I just took it as true and made a feature of it “have you ever ridden an elephant?”, “if you were in a circus, what would your act be” and so on. The phones were busy. Several people rang to find out what performance Paul would be at and I told them it was opening night. As was standard when we did an event, I also contacted the local newspaper who agreed to send a photographer.

It seems like Paul must have been listening (or perhaps, people contacted him directly about it). Either way, all our friends rushed to get tickets for opening night which must have given poor Paul a problem. He was now committed to riding an elephant at the circus. A commitment the people running the circus were completely unaware of.

 Either way, he worked his magic and made it happen. My memory of that night is that he was dressed in a white suit (think John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever) on the top of an elephant and looked completely terrified, his vertigo may have kicked in. I, however, was fairly distracted by being backstage at a travelling circus with complimentary popcorn which I promptly spilled and went on to be eaten by a Shetland pony (the popcorn, not me).

I have been trying to find the photos from the newspaper report but with no success. I think the moral of the story must be, don’t make things up and try to show off to autistic people. We might just announce it on the radio.

Free For Three

Last week saw the third anniversary of my ‘medical discharge’ from my 12 year sea going career and the start of my adjustment to life as a land lover. I feel like I have changed a lot over the course of the last three years as I have tried to learn more about myself and how my brain works.

The first part of this was figuring out I was autistic, before going on to be formally diagnosed which I have written about in previous posts, though the debate regarding which of my behaviours I can blame on being autistic and which are down to my frequent bad decisions continues.

Since then, it has occurred to me that having strategies to cope with stress would be helpful to lessen potential meltdown situations, sleep better and just be a better person. This time last year I got a telephone assessment with talking therapies, it took me weeks to pluck up the courage and I was surprised by how quickly they got back to me with an appointment once I finally asked (only a few days). However, in those few days, lockdown was announced, I lost my job and as a result had to move house. Basically, I was too stressed to complete the stress prevention course.

Over the last year I (like everyone else) have had a lot of spare time, so I have undertaken a lot of free online courses (sometimes three a week), these have included:

  • Big Data and the Environment
  • An Introduction to Children’s Visual Culture
  • How To Read a Novel
  • The Tudors
  • Fashion In A Changing World
  • Content Management

Looking back over the eclectic list of completed courses on my account, I am struck by how I have forgotten most of them. One I recently signed up to was Mindfulness. This is a term I have never previously understood but I learned from the course it is a series of techniques to better connect to our surroundings. After week one, I discovered it is a lot of sitting quietly and breathing. While I am sure it is great for many people, I realised I am quite happy not knowing what is going on around me. It seems like the more aware of my surroundings I am, the more there is to be stressed about so perhaps that for me, ignorance is bliss.

What has been more useful has been learning about CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). This is a way of becoming aware of negative thoughts so they can be dealt with. It doesn’t stop the thoughts from appearing, but it stops them becoming overwhelming. An example would be somebody with arachnophobia. Doing CBT would not stop them hating spiders but would let them get on with their day rather than quivering in a corner.

For me, I want to use it to sleep better. I have spent many midnight hours getting annoyed about minor incidents that happened twenty or thirty years ago. CBT is showing me that I need to recognise that it is not useful to keep going over all these things everyone else has forgotten. So when something pops into my mind at 3am, I must find something else to focus on so the destructive thoughts don’t ruin my whole night.

Of course, it is taking quite a lot of practice but I feel it is starting to work, I am sleeping better and it is now rare for me to have a terrible night of sleep. Although is that because of the CBT or is that because my life is currently relatively stress free? Also, it is true to say that I might be doing it completely wrong. After all, I haven’t formally done any CBT, I just read about it on the internet…

Let’s see how that goes…

To Tree or Not To Tree?

This year, it feels like there has been less arguing about when is the right time to do festive things. Perhaps it is because we all need cheering up or because we have run out of anything else to do but the decorations are everywhere. I was surprised to learn that a Christmas tree farm near me had sold more than 50% of its stock by mid-November meaning that a lot of people will have dead trees by the time their bubbles come to visit.

I like the run up to Christmas. I will happily listen to festive songs all year round (although there are only about ten good ones), the lights cut through the long dark days and I also have a thing for the seasonal sandwiches they sell in supermarkets. However, by about 18th December as normal routines are getting more disrupted, I have usually had enough and am ready for things to go back to normal. This year with the various restrictions, we are getting all the nice seasonal elements (music, films, food) but with far less of the stuff I hate (parties, family visits, the expectations of others).  Shame it took a pandemic to achieve it.

In recent years, I have had to battle to get out of going to parties and large events, which is odd as I organise them for a living. I find when I am running them, everything is under my terms so easy to control but other people’s occasions don’t interest me at all. I recently heard an interview with the autistic TV presenter Chris Packham on this subject. One of the things he mentioned is that he told his partner ‘No I don’t want to go to that wedding because I don’t care about any of those people and never will, so don’t drag me there, you go’. That really sums it up for me too.

This looks awful…

Being diagnosed late, I feel I lack a lot of autism education that others have. I wonder what of my character traits can be put down to being autistic and what is just me behaving badly. What can I change and what do I need to live with?

Earlier in the interview Chris Packham also said ‘one of the problems is, that when a lot of people talk, it’s obvious what they are going to say before they say it and therefore I can’t be bothered to wait for them to say it so I will just interrupt them’. This rang true for me too, I realised that I do that too and this is something that I will start to work on.

By learning more about autism and about me, perhaps I could make Christmas become more bearable for myself and for other people in future years. Will it ever be ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’? That seems unlikely.

Four Out Of Ten

               This has been a very eventful week, for the wider world and for me personally. This time last week, the Prime Minister of UK made a TV broadcast (two and a half hours late) announcing that the country will go back into lockdown.

Having five day’s notice meant that the entire country went panic buying with massive queues down the high streets. My local radio station were live from the indoor market (even though it was closed) and tried to find passers by to interview. One woman admitted buying two table lamps as the shop wouldn’t be open next week, before going onto say she had no idea what she was going to do with them. This was possibly not what the government had in mind. While the Prime Minister was making his announcements, the family across the road from me set off fireworks, presumably very excited at the idea of another month at home.

               This week, to mark bonfire night, a study was released saying four out of ten employers would ‘think twice’ about employing somebody neurodivergent. This would include people with ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, depression and autism. Fireworks can be tough for many in these groups, the unexpected bangs can be hard to deal with for many people and plenty of pets too. This year, as there are fewer organised displays, fireworks seem to have been going off about once a minute for the entire week.

Will this ever be considered anti-social?

Also going on the entire week has been the US election. At the time of writing the vote was four days ago and still there is no winner (making the PM’s 150 min delay look amateur). I have been oddly engrossed in this process, looking at the latest results and listening to the coverage for days now, even though I know nothing is happening. At least I am doing better than a man I heard being interviewed saying he hasn’t slept since Tuesday, he has been following the coverage on his iPad which he takes to the toilet with him. Apparently, he can’t bear the idea of missing the ‘big moment’. I hope we get to find out what he does when it is actually declared, probably just fall asleep.

               So with being awake most of the night listening to news about the electoral news of some far away county in a state I would need a map to locate meant I was not in the best condition for my job interview. This was the day before lockdown began and I spent the morning revising the company website, job specifications and my own CV. This was fortunate as when I was asked what I knew about the company, I could easily reel off a long list.

Selective Focus Photography of Person Signing on Paper
Writing anything by hand seems so unusual now.

               Now here comes the problem I never considered, the admin. Application forms, criminal records check, references and a health questionnaire which stated that a failure to declare any medical conditions could lead to dismissal. One of the questions was neurodivergence (which four out ten employers would ‘think twice’ about). This neurodivergence helped me remember all those facts that got me the job offer but should I take the risk?

               Mask wearing in an interview is a tricky thing. I found myself smiling at the interviewers a lot and making facial expressions before realising nobody would see them. Something else that I have noticed, is that mask wearing means I won’t need to shave as often as nobody will see. This is great news and something I didn’t pick up from the mask vs no mask debate. It wasn’t until I left the building, I noticed that my mask had been on back-to-front (being competent is not easy). Despite this I start next week. Whether we will know the results of the election by then, remains unclear.

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Of course, I wrote this blog earlier then went for a walk before posting it. By the time I got back, the world found out the results. If all it took was me writing this, I would have done it days ago. I just hope that the tired man’s iPad had not run out of battery.