Monthly Archives: October 2015

Memories of an unpaid janitor

Consumerist is reporting that Applebee’s in Rhode Island “forgot” to pay an Autistic line cook for a full year despite he and his parents filing the proper paperwork numerous times. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud them for hiring him, but not paying him is inexcusable!

Yes, I know people with Autism are supposed to be cold, unfeeling and incapable of empathy, but I’ve seen this shit first hand too many damned times – and I’m not talking about just freelance writing gigs (which are already notorious for not paying up – heck, The Baltimore Guardian fired me just for asking).

I was just finishing my last semester at Crafton Hills Community College and finishing the last of my requirements for Benchmark Young Adult School (now called “Benchmark Transitions”) while working about 10 hours a week for Redlands McDonalds. Unfortunately, the day before I was set to begin “real employment” for them (rather than the supposedly standard “30 day trial period” that only I was offered) I was called to the break room at the end of my shift and summarily fired for being “stupid, incompetent and the WORST damned employee EVER in [the] history of this company” (but no concrete, specific REASON for my dismissal).

Unfortunately, it took me over six months of daily searching just to get that job and it was the ONLY reason BYAS was letting me graduate. Okay, I did anyway (on Aug 9, 2001), but it was more of a “good riddance” than a “good-bye” graduation. It was also the last time I had anything remotely resembling a “friend.” No wonder I’m so damned lonely all the time.

Anyway, in order to keep my hastily arranged graduation “on-schedule,” then “Director of Student Services” Joelle Walters (also my “Primary Counselor” for most of my time there) called me into her expansive corner office to tell me she was starting me on the school’s semi-official Non-Federal Work Study type program which consisted of “assisting” in their woodshop.

It wasn’t much: 3½ hours per day, two days per week at an even $5 per hour (slightly below minimum wage at the time) but it was easy work and kept my cookie cut-I mean “custom individualized program” going as scheduled…or so I thought.

I can’t say if this is still true or not, but when I attended BYAS Tuesday was a “special” day: the day students could – barring any outstanding fines – get their weekly “money requests” from Toni (Director of Student Accounts). Most students used said money to buy cigarettes, but a fair number of us would pull our money together to buy a large pie from the small pizzeria in the plaza on the opposite site of the Redlands Blvd there in Loma Linda (the receipt going back to Toni in the office – the last time I ever NEEDED a receipt for something).

Anyway, after several weeks of working there, I went to see in the Student Accounts office as scheduled and she just looked at me blankly.

“Sorry, hon,” she said with her smooth Southern accent. “You don’t have any money for me to give you.”

“I should, I’ve been working over at Building Trades for the past several weeks.”

“I don’t know nothing about that. You’ll need to talk with Deborah about that, and then you can come back to see me.”

The whole point of both BYAS (and likely “Benchmark Transitions” as well) and its NF-WSP is to teach young adults about RESPONSIBILITY so, of course, then “Dean of Student Affairs” Deborah Kennedy would set an example for her students by resolving this unfortunate situation in a mature, professional manner befitting her position.

“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” Ms. Kennedy said in her strong Southern accent. “We don’t pay our ‘workers,’ and I know for a fact that Joelle isn’t STUPID enough to say we do!”

That was a total LIE as “work hours” was the backbone of the schools work-education and one of the chief tenants of their financial-education programs at the time.

She then goes on to chastise me for coming to her without any “documentation” of my work contract then thus surmising that said agreement was “pure hearsay.”

“That means,” she said with a giant “fuck you” grin. “It’s YOUR ‘word’ versus mine and as the Dean of this school, I know whose word I’m taking in this manner.

“Now,” she continued her tone suddenly serious. “We are NOT discussing this matter again, and if you say another word, I WILL fine you and I know you will NOT like it! Now GO!”

The line cook above is now getting the money he’s owed…or at least half of it. Meanwhile, my five months of sweeping floors for free remains as uncredited “volunteer work” and probably always will be…

Categories: Autism, BYAS (Benchmark Transitions), California, editorials, job hunting, news, Redlands\Yucaipa | Leave a comment

Editorial: A bad week for the Dems

This is not a good week for choice in the Democratic race; first Virginia Senator Jim Webb and now former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chaffee have dropped out of the presidential race that current VP Joe Biden has officially declined to enter.

This leaves 15 officially declared candidates on the Democratic sides with only the three “front runners” (former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Md. gov. Martin O’Malley) getting even the slightest hint of attention (though former Harvard prof. and self-described “single issue candidate” Larry Lessig gets the occasional “novelty interview”).

I would have voted for Webb (Biden is the personification Obama’s “third term” remark and Chaffee’s platform of “peace through prosperity” consisted of little more than its alliterative slogan). Maybe, I’ll do some research on the other 11 candidates who also don’t have a shot at the nomination. But then again, maybe not…


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Photo: Reasons to be confident about today’s game


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A kindred spirit

Today’s post was going to be about the recent changes to “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Great Movie Ride,” but instead I’m going to take you across the lagoon and share a story – okay, “non-story” – from EPCOT (yeah, like you care about my thoughts on GMR anyway).

It was 8:45pm, and I was looking for something to eat in World Showcase that DIDN’T have a huge line (thanks, Food & Wine Fest) when I noticed a blonde-headed boy probably about twenty years old in the far corner of the tiny seating area at the Sommerfest counter (the banner outside simply reads “Snacks”) in the Germany pavilion rocking silently in his wheelchair punching himself in the head repeatedly (both common behaviors of Autism and, believe me, hitting yourself feels far better than when other people do it for you) while his exasperated caregiver sat there doing nothing.

Then he stops, reaches over for his caregiver’s arm for some reason (it didn’t appear to be violent or aggressive) and the older man deflected the boy’s hand and gave him a firm “no, don’t do that.” This is probably the ONLY way this boy has of getting attention without causing a scene, but he can’t communicate what he wants (which could be literally anything from a soda to having to use the bathroom) so it just comes off as random violence.

I’m trying very hard not to judge either of these guys – particularly since neither is in a good position. In fact, I sometimes wonder whether it would be better to be non-communitive rather than constantly misunderstood, but I feel like a horrible person just typing that.

I just wanted to go over there and say something to him. I just had no idea what or if he’d appreciate it (approaching a stranger with low-medium functioning Autism generally isn’t a good idea – particularly in unfamiliar or high-stress environments)… or if it would come off as “condescending?”

That’s when I realized I’d been standing there for nearly ten minutes without moving and decided to leave the obviously stagnant queue area. I stopped briefly to at least smile at the kindred spirit on the way out of the restaurant, but he didn’t see me…

Categories: adventures, Autism, disney world, festivals, florida | Leave a comment

Theatre review: Hoop-dee-Doo Revue

Full disclosure: I’ve seen this show before, but it was a very long time ago. So long ago that I only remember two things about the show: 1) it was my mom’s birthday and 2) I got my very own washboard to play in the finale 😎 (okay, so it was a very, VERY long time ago).

I can’t remember if I enjoyed my previous viewing of the show or not, but I definitely did NOT enjoy the one I saw last night. I know it’s probably because I’m a former theatre critic, but I immediately picked up on the wooden acting, flat singing and complete lack of chemistry amongst the cast. Honestly, the audience members who were recruited for the Davy Crockett bit were better actors than the people onstage – and I’m not saying that because the woman playing “Dolly Drew” looked like Anna (Frozen) borrowing Belle’s ball gown from Beauty & The Beast.

But it’s not just me being a “god-damned humorless, narsasistic [sic] asshole” (as one of my ex-FB “friends” put it). My five year old niece spent most of the show playing Angry Birds on her mom’s iPhone and her younger brother fell asleep during the show – twice (to be fair, he’s only two). Heck, our server looked like she’d rather have a root canal in the middle of the real “frontier territory” than work there. Seriously, I’ve seen cheerier employees at Gracey Manor (though having to watch dreck like this twice a night who could blame her).

In fact, she came by to collect our plates (the second of three times we saw her) while I was still eating so I had a full plate of chicken bones in front of me for the duration of the show including a bit where the entire cast made a circle around our table singing some song that I’ve already completely forgotten. I do remember that the spotlight was directly on me the during that bit, and I looked like a damned pig.

That being said, I was able to tolerate most of the god awful show – keyword “most” – but the last number (I don’t even know what it was supposed to be) was literally painful. I don’t mean the acting and singing – I mean the wait staff hand out washboards and other noise makers for kids to play during the song which caused me to hold my ears in pain. I’m not normally “hypersensitive” (though I have the same reaction whenever emergency vehicles pass), but I tend to avoid the comments section of my posts anyway.

For the record: my mom, brother, sister-in-law and especially her mother all claimed to “love” the show… but I’m NOT coming back anytime soon: * ½ out of 5

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Photo: Emmett & Wyldstyle


Now you see why I don’t post pictures of myself on this blog very often. 😦

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Disney Disappointments: Part 2

I left the movie shortly after 6pm and decided that even though I had a bag of Cinnamon bites, an oversized Coke and a half bag of popcorn I should still probably get dinner before I left property. Unfortunately, Disney Springs doesn’t offer a whole lot of quick service (now called “fast casual”) restaurants so my non-table service options were basically limited (unless I wanted more popcorn or overpriced margaritas).

So, I headed off to the only non-food truck, non-dessert “fast casual” restaurant service place I could think of – Earl of Sandwich on the Marketplace side of the densely crowded shopping mall. Okay, okay, so I forgot Cooke’s of Dublin, but I’d already made up my mind by the time I passed the stairs to their entrance.

I also had largely made up my mind on what I wanted when I arrived at the store, but I took a menu anyway from the CM stationed at the door so I could see what was on each of their sandwiches. I made my way to the end of the line and then replaced my menu at in the plastic slot attached to one of the columns as I passed it in queue following an older couple whose wife was using a scooter

A short (probably about 4’5”), thin man with dark skin and greasy salt-and-pepper hair darted ahead of me and had a brief conversation with the couple ahead of me (wife was in a scooter). I got the distinct feeling he was talking about me. Suddenly, he points to me, the husband shrugs and the old man stares at me angrily (his scowl made him look like one of those audio-animatronic goblins from the “Gringrotts” ride at Universal) before heading back to his place in line.

About a minute or so later I felt a sharp SLAP on my left shoulder, spun around, and this same little person was standing there, his right arm stretched as far as he could reach so he could wave his finger in my face threateningly. If I were a bystander, I might find this hilarious.

“YOU,” he growled. “You have INSULTED my wife!”

What the fuck is he talking about?

Do not act stupid on me! When you replaced menu you cut out of line and in front of MY WIFE! I said nothing because I am kind and generous man who assumed you are traveling with crippled woman in front of you. But you are liar, they do NOT know you and you are NOT crippled like them!”

I was going to explain the Autistic Spectrum to him or how it takes a few seconds longer to process information, or… but he cut me off angrily before I could say anything.

“You are a horrible, HORRIBLE PER-son,” he said using his last word as an excuse to spit on my shirt (as he was too short to spit in my face).

“And I am taking MY spot in line back and YOU are going to back of the line where you belong! NOW! Maybe it will teach you that your country has ‘RULES’ and YOU are not above them, you selfish PIG!”

He grabs his wife’s hand and drags her in front of me starring daggers at me the entire time. As he and his wife approached the ordering area, he turns around and growls “disrespective ASSHOLE!”

I got up to the cashier (which is at the other end of the counter near the pick-up area) slightly ahead of the bitter old man (his wife had stopped to look at the parfaits) and I saw him again when our buzzers went off at the same time. However, I – or anyone else for that matter – couldn’t get to the counter because he was blocking it while he argued with the poor girl on delivery duty pointing angrily at something on his receipt.

Suddenly, the “horrible person” came to a more horrifying conclusion: this poor girl held hostage at the end of the counter was literally a proxy for ME.

Go ahead; try enjoying a hot, fresh and carefully crafted sandwich after a realization like that.

I clean my table, and head over to clear my head at the Starbucks on the Westside. I check my wallet: I have exactly $7 in it…and then my order came to $6.85. I stopped at the ATM next to the restrooms (if I did that first this post would probably stop here). Since all I had was twenties, I made my way over to the nearly deserted cab stand behind Cirque du Solei.

When a cab finally arrived, I jumped into it as soon as his passengers got out. Finally after several minutes of him pretending to laugh at my serious story, I commented that it seemed to be taking forever to get back to the complex.

“Look at all thiiis traffic I have to deal wiiiith,” he said defensively, gesturing towards the steady stream of headlights on the OPPOSITE side of the highway. Meanwhile, the lanes AHEAD of us were empty… that’s when I noticed we had JUST turned onto I-4 at Downtown Disney.

It wasn’t “traffic” delaying us, the greedy bastard just spent the past ten minutes driving me around Kissimmee!

Then he finally pulls into my complex, but instead of dropping me off at the leasing office like I told him, he shoots through the gate and then pulls up to each building going three miles an hour – with the meter running.

“Is thiiiis you building? How about thiiis one? Which one IIIIISS your building?”

“It’s the first one on the right directly behind the leasing office.”

“Then why didn’t you just tail me to stop at the leasing office,” he said exasperatedly as he pulled into a random spot near the end of the row. His meter clicking loudly as he pulled out to turn around.

“That is $24.75,” he says pulling into a spot in front of the clubhouse, and I hand him the lowest amount I had. “I said $24 – you gave me $40! You are telling me you do not have a five? Are you focking kidding me?”

“Do you REALLY think I WANT to break a 20 over $4? For god’s sake, if I had two dollars I could have taken a BUS back.”

He begrudgingly reached into his seat and gave me my change and I left the cab and followed the barely lit path towards my building…

Categories: adventures, Autism, disney world, entertainment, florida, Orlando, retail | Leave a comment

Disney Disappointments: Part 1

I know my headline reads “Disney Disappointments,” but can I start with some GOOD news?

I decided to renew my lease at Sea Isle Apartment Homes for another year!

I made it official this afternoon by turning in my renewal form to the leasing office (or I would have if I hadn’t misplaced it, but I was given a shiny new lease to sign… with an even shinier new rent).

Anyway, I left the club house and made my way to the bus stop at Sea Harbor and Academic Drives using my white DVC hat with the frayed rim to shield my eyes from the approximately 100 feet of unshaded sidewalk on my way towards the LYNX stop where the bus towards Disney arrived ten minutes behind sched- wait, this is a city bus that’s probably as close to being “on time” as they get.

The first thing I did when I sat down was to put on the sweatshirt (movie theaters – and every other building in Florida for that matter – are always freezing cold) putting my hat on the seat next to me while I pulled the blue Disney hoodie over my head.

I walked off the bus at the Disney Springs station with a half dozen other passengers and was nearly blinded by the strong afternoon sun.

“Where did I put that stupid hat,” I said out loud feeling the empty pocket of my sweatshirt as the dull green bus pulls away from the curb.

It was already 2pm so I didn’t really have time to get anything serious to eat before my 2:30 show time. I stopped at the first place I could see to get a quick snack on my way towards the theater which ended up being a bag of “Cinnamon Bites” that was considerably larger than I was expecting.

“Actually the 2:30 screening of The Martian is in 3D. The next normal screening is at 3:30, is that what you want to do?”

Anyway, now that I have a full hour and a quarter to play with, I made my through the dense crowd towards the World of Disney Store. I wasn’t looking for hats (I have a half dozen back at the apartment), but I was looking for a pair of men’s sandals that I bought at DAK back in December.

“Wait, black with grey rubber bottoms,” the woman at the tiny Information desk asked cutting me off at “sandals.” “Yeah, I know exactly what you want.”

She disappears into a backroom and comes back with “there is nothing available matching that description ANYWHERE on property. Sorry, we are out of stock and it doesn’t appear as if we will be restocking them anytime soon. Who knows, it’s October, maybe if you check back in the Spring we may have them, but not today. Sorry, next in line…”

That was a bust, now I only have…an hour before my screening. Let’s see, ATM, restroom and, oh, Guest Services – which is conveniently around the corner from where I came out – AND it had a line. This was definitely promising…

I went inside and was greeted by a young Latin American woman with an accent (didn’t catch her name as I have no reason to look at that region) holding a large electronic device (I thought it was a clipboard when I first saw her) who immediately asks how she can assist me.

Unfortunately between her accent and the noise level of the tiny waiting room, we were pretty much speaking past each other for most of the conversation. Not that people understand me in quiet rooms either, but she was making an effort. She offered to let me wait in line “for 20 minutes or so,” but I decided against it because I didn’t think they could help me either…

Wait, it’s been almost two months since I posted a photo essay on what was then “Downtown Disney.” I felt around my sweatshirt again (I put it back on when I entered World of Disney), and it was still empty because my camera was still sitting on my desk back at the apartment.

I considered asking the guys at the DVC kiosk if they knew where I could get a replacement hat, but I got the feeling that would involve a 90 minute lecture and a $10,000 dollar deposit – neither of which I had at the moment. Thirty minutes I could spare, and I spent most of it sitting outside the theater pretending to be interested in stupid cat videos and generic “inspirational” memes that always ended with “like and share if you agree.”

That’s right, people love being ordered around by generic memes that totally and accurately describe them as a person because it makes them unique and special to share banal observations that 10k other users have shared before them. If you agree with the post – which would be anyone with a pulse – you MUST “like and share” that’s a rule and you cannot argue with it. Well, fuck you, I’m not doing either!

Yes, sadly enough, it’s the only power trip I’m “allowed” to have. Hey, ten minutes before show time, and if the crowds inside are as bad as the ones outside than I might need all of them even though I saw a man on my way into the cinema turn away disgustedly when the cashier told him the movie was “two and a half hours long” (neglecting to mention twenty-five minutes of previews).

I walked into the theater expecting an Interstellar level disaster, except, wait, I’m not reviewing movies anymore. I have my popcorn ready and I’m already wearing my sweatshirt so go ahead, entertain me…

Categories: adventures, Autism, disney world, entertainment, florida, movies, Orlando, retail | Leave a comment

Photo: He’s the smart one


Categories: cartoons\memes, editorials, florida, news, politics | Leave a comment

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