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Tumbling Down Thunder Road

Being a female with autism seemingly ‘having it all together’ but truthfully a lifetime of social crisis mode.

I was interviewed for tropical smoothie in the summer of 2008. The interview was very informal, I recall arriving ten minutes beforehand and requesting to talk with the manager. Clawing through my skin I aced the interview.

After being hired, explaining my autism to the tune of ‘and how does this affect what you are doing?’ Working diligently efficiently and as accurately as possible. Coming to work I’d wipe down the back kitchen preparation areas and made sure everything needed was accessible.

Going the extra mile not understanding the concept of ‘workplace culture’ reasoning business was simply about coming in, executing required tasks, fulfilling orders, producing smoothies, etc.

Often asked to clean bathrooms, I’d stay after my shift to mop floors, wipe down tables, stack chairs and lock up all without complaint. A few coworkers had an issue with me (now realizing this in hindsight.) Repeatedly mentioning autism when a mistake was made only to be harshly criticized, feeling very small and unimportant. I shied away from speaking at all knowing something was ‘off.’

Nevertheless one coworker displayed kindness assisting me with smoothie recipes, how to best and most efficiently make sandwiches what to have on hand and how to become better at what I was doing.

As August came to a close I was told there would be an ‘intervention’ the following day. I was stunned and internally slack-jawed. The following morning I perceived something was awry.

The manager who hired me wasn’t present but the coworker who appreciated me was. Sitting across from her I wanted to crawl out of my skin and gag. She was put in an awkward position and looked very uncomfortable. I was told that I was being fired because I was ‘too slow’ in preparing food and smoothies. My stomach sank, I sat numbly and asked for further clarification to which I didn’t receive.

Gathering my last paycheck and asking to speak with the manager of whom wasn’t available. I never saw him again, he refused to speak with me and tell me why I was being terminated. No one had an answer for me, just a feeling of ‘don’t let the door slap you on the way out.’

Refusing to explain why I was terminated I ran out to my car with reflexive sobs splitting my chest in half. From that point forward I decided disclosing autism wasn’t in my best interests.

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