Thursday, August 02, 2012

Face Off

We had a few moments with Mike, Marissa and Sadie this afternoon. They had come downtown to do some banking and stuff with Mike's job and we managed to meet for about 40 minutes between me getting home and us getting haircuts. Sadie, hopped up for a ride with me on my power chair. She loves her sister but she also loves time with us when Ruby is otherwise engaged. No sharing of rides or of attention needed, she gleefully shouted, "Faster, Faster, Go SUPERFAST!!!" I love it when she puts her hand up to feel the breeze created by the speed at which we are travelling.

Joe went up first for his haircut, as he has hair, he takes a lot longer than me. He gets styled, I get mowed. So we went to the food court and went over to get Sadie a Root Beer float at A&W, she actually whooped when she saw the picture on the wall. Pop and ice cream - kid heaven. I scooted around with her as her Mom waited for the float to be made. We found a table and Sadie got down from one perch and found another at the table. It was then that Marissa noticed that she hadn't grabbed a straw.

I offered to just pop over and grab one. I love the freedom that my power chair gives me to be a contributor. I pulled up to the A&W and saw a young man standing waiting. He wore very tight jeans, a tight white tee, and stood there both tall and skinny. His hair was cut fashionably and expensively. His face reeked attitude and arrogance. I was a bit nervous about peeking around him to ask the clerk for a straw. But, what the heck, he was just waiting and the counter staff was doing the same - his order being prepared just out of sight in the kitchen behind. I asked the clerk for a straw. She smiled and pointed over to the counter just in front of where I sat. I didn't see right away where she was pointing.

The fellow, reached over, clicked on the lever, a straw popped out and he said, in the most friendly tone of voice you can imagine, "There you go sir." I was taken aback, and he saw my surprise and said, "I know, I look like I'm a jerk," and laughed. I laughed too, he took a chance and said, "Let me tell you I've tried to look friendly but when I do it looks like I'm straining. You want to call something a disability - well looking like an arrogant jerk, that's one."

I didn't want to acknowledge that I did misread him. I didn't want to think about the number of times I might do that. As I've said before, I have a face that when, at rest, looks angry - and that's lead to many a problem let me tell you. I imagine that he has that problem constantly - he looked like he had a head full of nasties just standing waiting at an A&W!

But I've got to remember ... GOT TO REMEMBER ... that the proverb about books and covers remains as true today as when first said.


Shan said...

Back in the day, Ian used to have long rocker hair and wear lots of Iron Maiden (etc) tees. One day he saw an old lady cross the street, walk down on the other side, and cross back again to his side, presumably so she wouldn't have to pass by him.

He went home and cut his hair and retired his concert t-shirts.

Dark Angel said...

I've been told I tend to look angry when I'm concentrating. This can actually be a real problem, since being blind and severely hearing impaired, most things take a lot of concentration. Finding my way outside; listening to what somebody's saying while trying to tune out background noise; the list goes on. Luckily, once I explain to people that I'm simply not aware of my facial expression half the time, it's usually okay. And doing this with a smile also helps. :)

Anonymous said...

What a great reminder. And what a nice young man. Sense of humor, even about himself.

Belinda said...

I too am doomed with a face that expresses things that aren't in my head or if in my head, they appear more intensely on my face. I am resigned to it. On the other hand when I'm really happy,which is often, that shows too!

What a great interaction and lesson and what a cool customer that young man is.

Bubbles said...

I had a client at one time who used to ask me all the time "are you mad?" when I was lost in thought or going over, in my head, the list of things I needed to get done in a shift. I very quicky became concious of my facial expressions at work!!!!

joanne said...

if you can't beat um...join them

BubbleGirl said...

As a 16 year old girl, I had 17 visible piercings (8 in each ear, and one in my lip). I wore really baggy pants, and hoodies, and my hair was cut boy-short. I looked very intimidating, and scary to a lot of people, and was avoided by many. I surprised quite a few people when they realized I was a nice person.

Out there changing stereotypes.

Kristine said...

Don't we all need this reminder sometime? And wouldn't it be nice if we didn't?

I actually consider that one perk to living with a disability. I often find myself approaching strangers in public, asking for help with various little things. Sometimes, the only person nearby isn't one who'd normally be deemed "approachable." But I approach them anyway, out of necessity, and it's almost never a bad experience. Many of the "scariest" people have turned out to be the nicest, even randomly showing up in my path again some other day, this time approaching me and offering help they noticed I might need.

I really appreciate these little life lessons that the universe throws at me. It's helped me to be more open-minded, and get to know and love a lot more people.

Ettina said...

You just got a taste of one of the common experiences of autistic people. Because of my facial recognition problems, any facial expression that involves crinkling your eyebrows looks angry to me. As a result, I'm often surprised to find that someone is nicer than they seemed - or I was, before I learnt that an 'angry' face isn't necessarily angry.

More dangerous is the opposite error, of mistaking someone for nice when they aren't. Attempts to fake liking for someone usually completely fool me, leaving me surprised and dismayed when someone I thought was a friend does something mean to me.