Redlands\Yucaipa

Down the rabbit hole

I woke up for the first time in months without pain and feeling totally refreshed. It was PERFECT… until a few minutes ago.

Then I picked up the phone just so they wouldn’t leave a pre-recorded message on my machine (which doesn’t let me delete messages because it’s a cheap pos) when OMG this happened:

“Hi, is this Jonathan?”

A live person wants to talk to me!

“Hi, Mr. Twaay-gear? I’m calling to let you know we can reduce your property insure…”

Of course.

Less then thirty minutes into my day, and it’s already ruined.

It’s not her fault. She has a job to do, and she clearly likes it as much as I do… but she just HAD to say: “n-no, don’t hang up! If you give us the make/model of the car you drive, we can also save you…”

I’m flattered that she thinks I can drive… even if its SOLELY so she can make money off it, but the emotional rabbit hole she effectively threw me into was what derailed my otherwise perfect morning,

The rabbit hole with various side burrows and booby traps, think of it like Oak Island in reverse. The worst part is I never know what’s going to trigger said hole – and then once I’m in it…

Good luck getting out of it, all on your own, without any help from anyone.

That’s the part that REALLY hurts me.

Sure, I can often distract myself for a moment or two but as long as it has even a little of my attention, I’m not out of it yet. It helps that these side burrows often lead to sad/traumatic memories often from years ago that I was never “allowed” to feel because that’s just not how teens/adults deal with things.

Nope.

The supposedly “correct” order of operations is: Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or some combination thereof… and if all else fails therapy. The problem was, once my parents decided to get the latter for me, the school they sent me to didn’t provide the “safe, therapeutic environment” mentioned in their brochure.

No, you had to stick to THEIR script (whether it was true or not) and then they would flip anything you said against you without any help or guidance on their part. Cleaning up the mess they caused is YOUR responsibility not theirs. In fact, the closest thing they gave me to a “tool” was:

You want to know what’s causing all of your problems? Look in a fucking mirror.”

Deep man. Really deep…. unfortunately, it’s not very, you know, helpful. I’ve tried looking in mirrors. All I see is a fat, ugly dude who needs to shave more often. I, however, have yet to find any SOLUTIONS there.

Yes, I know I look ridiculous ranting in a mirror about lowering the insurance rates on a car I don’t have but am expected to have anyway JUST so if I got hit by a car I can say “I lost my car and license after a really bad accident but I continued paying anyway just in case this happened.” To which they’d inevitably say, “you’re an IDIOT” – and they’d be right!

But nope, at least FOUR people at the hospital asked me for MY car insurance – even though I was the VIC… Oh, sorry, wouldn’t you know it? She has other calls to make.

In the meantime, my reflection and I have to find my own way out of this damned rabbit hole…

Categories: Autism, BYAS (Benchmark Transitions), California, ramblings, Redlands\Yucaipa | Leave a comment

A pal and a confidant

A Facebook page called “Queertism” shared a link to a poem they found on “The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism” about the heartbreaking realization that a new “friend” is only using you for school credit and will go back to hanging out with the cool kids when their “assignment” is over.

Well, I was one of those “assigned friends” as a student at Benchmark Transitions (formerly Benchmark Young Adult School). It was supposed to make the arrogant douchebag (who made zero effort to hide his annoyance with me or his assignment) I was “assigned” more humble. It didn’t.

That’s the primary reason why I refused to participate in “Best Buddies Day” in college (“make a friend for life,” by using them as a prop to feel good about yourself for a day), and “Disabilities Awareness” merit badge in Scouting (which now only requires you to “…spend a day with a disabled scout…” [3a]), and while I cringe at Allistic Scouts explaining disabilities to their troop/pack (5a), it has added a new requirement about “pledging to show a positive attitude about people with disabilities” (req. 6).

Thank you for reading this, and, as always, thank you for being a friend…

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, Autism, BYAS (Benchmark Transitions), California, Redlands\Yucaipa, scouting | Leave a comment

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

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