Simone Biles and Me

Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0 BR https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons

On Sunday July 24th I texted my boss and informed her that because my dad’s declining health needed my attention and because I did not believe I could make significant improvements in my work, that I would be resigning immediately without giving two weeks notice.

I told my step-mother and father that I had been let go immediately by my employer once I gave my two weeks notice.

Both of the stories I told my boss on the one hand and my step-mother and father on the other were lies. My father’s health–in spite of suffering a severe form of Valley Fever and then a minor stroke earlier this year–is actually fairly decent. My father and step-mother ordered me to give two weeks notice to my boss before I assumed a job at an Amazon.com warehouse–that, of course, is what any decent, professional worker would do; however I quit without the two weeks notice because my mental health simply could not endure any more torture. My step-mother also would not accept an immediate resignation because she would want me to get two weeks pay. She has oversight over my finances–not because of any legal order but because she is a control freak, especially with regard to money and I’ve never been in a position to resist her demands. I actually had more than enough money to meet my expenses while going a few weeks without pay so I resigned effective immediately while telling a lie to my father and step-mother.

The week prior to my resignation was particularly dreadful. I made awful errors in handling a number of calls and e-mails. On the Friday before my resignation, my boss had a one on one with me where she offered harsh criticisms and said that while I could handle calls where the callers’ problems were relatively straight forward, I’d proved incapable thus far of handling calls that demanded extensive problem solving skills. Without being able to handle the latter type calls, she said “you’re not going to make it.” She said she had listened to a number of calls I’d took; she seemed substantially horrified by my performances. She looked sad and forlorn as she referenced these calls, declaring that she was at her wits end about what to do with me. She proposed weekly meetings over the subsequent month between myself and her where we would listen together to recordings of several calls I took. In as much as her imperious disposition toward me over the previous week had triggered me, this was a prospect for which I did not look forward.

When I texted my boss on Sunday evening (July 24th), she gave a perfunctory plea for me not to quit and suggested I might improve with practice. I reiterated my desire; she accepted my resignation and requested that my resignation letter include nothing about my struggles with the job and only mention the excuse of my dad’s supposed declining health. The company’s HR scrutinizes resignation e-mails and apparently it would reflect badly on her ( as the one who hired me) if I stated that I resigned because of struggles with the tasks.

I think it’s possible that my step-mother has an inkling that I made up the story about the company immediately letting me go. A couple weeks ago she inquired about whether I would receive a payout on my vacation time for the company. I hesitated and my dad then said “Oh yes they’re probably going to send a check.” I didn’t say anything more and I hope she will not bring it up again. I had about twelve hours worth of vacation but will not receive a check for it because I did not give two weeks notice in my resignation.

I lasted about 13 weeks at this job. One my greatest struggles was an inability to say no to callers, especially company vendors with past due invoices. For the latter I was supposed to give virtually no information at all, apart from a promise to submit a ticket to our research team to inquire into the invoice’s payment status. In the case of one or two calls I received, invoices were hopelessly bogged down in bureaucratic approval processes–in spite of the company research team attempting to speed the approval processes. The callers were frustrated and I couldn’t help but give them some inside information to try to placate them. In other cases I wrote a research ticket for callers when by departmental policy I should have simply told them to call back later.

As an Autistic person, I have unique emotional needs and views about my own place in the world that are simply disregarded or are incomprehensible to neurotypicals like my father and step-mother. My step-mother desperately wants me to earn enough money to be self-supporting and her doubts about that possibility inspire her periodic musings about me being supported by the state after my father dies. She says I’ve been doing way too much job-hopping in recent years and now that I’ve started a job at Amazon–today was my first day–I must stick with it until they fire me. I also may receive a job offer soon to work at a warehouse where working conditions are supposedly better than at Amazon–she urged me to apply for this other job and I interviewed for it this past weekend.

At the very least, I will probably have to work a few more weeks at the Amazon warehouse. I was last employed by Amazon in 2017 and was terminated after seven weeks because I could not reach an average order picking rate of 1 pick per 8.2 seconds within the learning curve. By the time I was fired I had reached a 10 to 11 second range per pick but that was not good enough.

My day at Amazon begins at 1:20 in the morning and ends at 11:50 AM. My first day was filled with the usual fears and terrors related to the fact that I’m a slow learner. After I got home, my step-mother sensed on the phone that I had had a bad day and she referenced, in an I-told-you-so manner, my previous job setting up and taking down tables and chairs at the headquarters of a major corporation. She wanted to know if this latter job looked good in comparison to my current Amazon gig. Not having any ability to argue with her, I said that I still hadn’t experienced the full gamut of work I will do at Amazon. In truth, I find both the conference room set-up job and the current Amazon gig to be equally shitty: both putting severe strain on my communication skills, executive function and motor skills. She was trying to jeer me for frequently expressing extreme dissatisfaction with my jobs. In truth, at this point I’m not sure I can succeed in any workplace whatsoever. I’ve thought that a part-time job overseen by a vendor under contract with my state government’s vocational rehabilitation division might work for me but my step-mother has derailed that in the past with demands that I seek only full time work.

I’m Sick of This Shit

I have trouble telling people things they don’t want to hear. That can be a problem with my current job.

The week had been going ok until toward the end of today (Thursday). I got a call from the wife of a former worker at my company. The wife claimed that the worker’s boss had promised him after he left the company that he would take care of the worker’s mileage expenses when the worker used his personal car to drive long distance to work on a different company facility. However the boss had not yet approved the reimbursement for the worker and had in fact not responded to the worker and the wife’s efforts to contact him.

I promised the wife that I’d submit a ticket message to the boss to find out what was going on. Through the Jabber chat system, I asked my wisest co-worker whether I should classify this ticket as “open” or “closed.” Instead the co-worker, a woman named Ashley, told me that I shouldn’t have agreed to send a message to the boss. Our department isn’t supposed to get involved in financial disputes between bosses and former employees. Ashley added primly that “if you think an exception should be made in this case, run it by” our boss and team lead. She said I should provide the employee’s phone number and employee ID number so the boss and team lead can look into it. With about ten minutes left in the day I sent a message over the Jabber chat system to the team lead asking for his counsel. The lead’s Jabber status showed that he was “available” but he did not respond to my question nor did he e-mail an answer afterward.

I offered to write the worker’s boss on behalf of the worker because I couldn’t leave him and his wife empty handed. They had apparently been deprived of money and were upset about it. I couldn’t simply ask them to call the boss because they said they’d already tried to do that multiple times. I honestly thought I was doing an appropriate thing until Ashley told me otherwise.

I gave them a ticket number–the ticket I intended to submit to the boss to find out whether he would approve the worker’s mileage expenses–but didn’t actually submit the ticket because Ashley told me I had to run it by my leadership team. So perhaps the worker and his wife will call up tomorrow before I get to work and give one of my colleagues a ticket number to look up that doesn’t actually exist. I could not finish writing an e-mail to my boss and team lead before it was time to clock out. My boss is very stern about the impermissibility of working overtime or doing work off the clock. If I were to submit a ticket or write an e-mail to my boss after my clock-out time, she would see by the time stamp that I was doing company work outside of my official shift.

Today, after work, I had to drive my dad around to various stores so he could shop. He can’t drive because he had a small stroke a few weeks ago which messed up his left eye and he can’t see a specialist about possibly getting it fixed until August 17th. He complains of dizziness, lack of sleep and foggy headedness. After I told him about my troubles at work today, he muttered that “we’ll talk about this later” because he implied he didn’t have the mental focus needed to offer reflections on the matter. Apart from the mental complications of his stroke, I know he is quite tired of my laments.

He has recently suggested that this job would “toughen you up” and dismissed my laments about the issues I face at work as a product of me being too hard on myself and worrying about nothing. He has breezily said that my issues with communication will get better with more on the job practice. But some of the things I have experienced on this job have been quite traumatic, based on the interaction of these experiences with my neurological structure. I really don’t think it is simply a matter of changing my thought processes about the job, as he insists, though perhaps that is a bit of it.

Yesterday I interviewed for a produce clerk job at a major grocery retailer in my area. I found out today that I got it. The job seems to have certain virtues but only initially pays about twenty cents per hour higher than my state’s minimum wage. This is about $2.10 less than what I currently make. My dad, who is a junior partner to my step-mother in controlling my life, has stated that we will talk this coming weekend about whether or not I should take this job. He seems dubious about it because it offers substantially less money than my current work. I also got an interview offer from a major retailer that would offer better pay and benefits than the grocery store but accidently deleted the phone message. I shall probably try to find the phone number so I can accept the interview offer even though the job in question might be too fast paced for me.

In my current job, I lack the necessary capacity to be firm with callers. I get over-sensitized and shut down in any confrontation. I also simply can’t handle the need to be well spoken when dealing with the complexity that sometimes comes into play, for example in explaining the Concur expense report software to company employees. Last week, I spent nearly twenty minutes trying to analyze and then explain to a company employee what her issues were with her Concur account. After a while, she abruptly ended the phone call with a tone of cold disgust, saying she would get her manager to help her. I do well enough when callers ask simple questions or make simple requests; my boss and team lead have given me kudos for my handling of several of these calls. But I’m an abysmal solver of more complex problems presented by callers.

Interestingly, an aunt–a sister of my late biological mother–wrote me an e-mail yesterday after I told her I was contemplating leaving my current employer. She said she thought this would be a serious mistake. I would have better opportunities to climb the ladder at my current employer than I would at the grocery retailer. The problem is that due to such issues as slow auditory and mental processing, sometimes strikingly poor verbal communication skills, an often flat facial demeanor and a frequent inability to project an engaging personality, I have no real prospect of climbing the ladder at any company.

This aunt told me in 2019 that I was welcome to come live with her and her husband if I ever wished to escape from my step-mother. A few weeks ago, shortly after my dad’s stroke and after the step-mother subjected me to a tirade about how she envisioned me–in the event of my dad’s death–living in a group home with a caretaker or even being a ward of the state, I told my aunt via e-mail that my step-mother had spoken of the need to “make arrangements” for me if my dad died. It was too embarrassing to tell my aunt specifically what my step-mother had said. The aunt replied that she couldn’t believe my step-mother had said that and told me not to worry, that she and her husband wouldn’t allow me “to fall into her hands” and they would always be there for me.

Neither my aunt, my step-mother or dad can truly understand the extreme strain on me and other neuro-divergent persons as we put on a mask and struggle to find our niche in the neurotypical world.

Trying to Escape my Current Job

A few weeks ago I had two interviews–one at a grocery and the other at a retail establishment.

I was actually accepted for for the retail job (as an “apparel clerk”). My schedule would have started at 20 hours a week at minimum wage. This would be a significant downgrade from my current job which is 40 hours/week and roughly $2.50/hour more than my state’s minimum wage. I had applied for these jobs at the order of my step-mother. However, she and my father ordered me to reject the job because it was too few hours–she allowed that while it was acceptable for me to work part time, I should choose something that gives me close to 30 hours per week.

I probably would have had my struggles had I accepted the apparel clerk gig. The job would have required a certain amount of executive function and verbal communication.

My step-mother has also decided that a courtesy clerk job in a grocery store would be ideal for me (but only if they get close to 30 hours).

Since I started my current job about 11 weeks ago, I’ve developed a substantial anxiety regarding any interaction I have with most people. Every time I answer the phone at work I think: Is this caller going to end up biting my head off? Is the caller going to ask to speak to somebody else in my department after I demonstrate my lack of knowledge on a topic (as happened a few weeks ago)? Am I going to be able to figure out what the caller is asking about? Am I going to stumble over my words and feel humiliated? Is the caller going to leave a negative survey response after the call is over?

My boss indicated on Monday that while there was at least one positive survey response after a call I took last week there were several other calls of mine whose survey responses made her want to investigate them. As of Monday she hadn’t listened to recordings of these calls but perhaps she has done so by now. My awkward interactions with other people are excruciatingly embarrassing to me and being subjected to a blunt critique of such interactions is a dreadful ordeal. I especially fear to be exposed for giving a caller the wrong information or seeming not to know what I am talking about. I’m simply not wired very well for verbal communication. This job requires so much complicated knowledge on so many topics that it is beyond my capacity to be successful in it.

Turmoil

My biggest problem at my job continues to be auditory processing and lacking the confidence to stand up to callers when necessary.

Yesterday an angry employee of our company called because she’d been unable to get her expense report approved and have the company reimburse her for it. The reimbursement amount was around $1100. She ranted and raved for about 20 minutes and was very abrasive when I timidly tried to tell her that she needed to submit a special type of receipt for two of her expenses. This phone call drifted onward past the required shut down time of our phone lines before lunch and my boss jumped on the line with me. She managed to sweet talk this crazy lady into calmness. She later criticized me for “shutting down” during the latter part of the call.

There was another distressing call late in the day on Monday and I went into Tuesday highly stressed. The stress was greatly compounded by struggles with the functioning of my computer and internet access (I work from home). My boss was a little frustrated with me. I ended up struggling the whole day to try to fix the situation.

Normally I would call my father to try to help but he is in the hospital. On Monday, he suffered a minor stroke. His mind seems relatively clear but one of his eyes is damaged. He has double vision in this eye. This is two months after he came home from the hospital after getting mauled by Valley Fever. The doctors are not completely ruling out the possibility that the stroke was caused by inflammation of the meninges around the brain–in other words Meningitis. At this point they are proceeding on the assumption that the stroke is not Meningitis related but they haven’t completely ruled It out.

Thus after gaining an impressive amount of strength and activity level in the last few months, my dad’s has now taken significant steps backward. Once again I’m faced with the prospect of losing my dad and being left alone with my crazy step-mother.

My step-mother returned from the hospital today and stopped by to help me fix my computer problem. She was in a highly neurotic bull-in-a-China-shop state and brought up the conversation she has afflicted on me before about the need to plan for the future in the wake of my dad’s renewed serious health troubles. If my dad were to die, she thinks I would do best in some kind of collective living situation where there is a “caretaker” to watch over neuro-divergent residents, prepare them meals, etc. She also said something vague to the effect that I could also become a dependent of the state.

She is an overbearing idiot and I despise her more than anything on this earth. But is she totally wrong? In the past few years I’ve had repeated job experiences which have further eroded my slim confidence about my ability to succeed at any job with a living wage and to interact with my fellow human beings without having anxiety and meltdowns. I hate her passionately for having so much control over my life but would I do any better if she wasn’t around?

The future doesn’t look good.

Still at the end of My Rope

Last Monday was dreadful. I was stupefied by questions from callers and sometimes berated by my trainer.

That night my pompous, domineering step-mother ordered that I must continue at the job for the time being. She said that I should continue to badger my job coach to provide the assistance she has so far not provided and that she (my step-mom) would contact my case worker at the state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) the following day. She even proposed that she (my step-mother) call my boss and see if some arrangement could be made to keep me out of the queue for calls involving the company’s expense report software. This was a horrible idea and thankfully she discarded it. I had earlier that day submitted an application to an Amazon.com warehouse. I was accepted to this job. My step-mother brusquely shot down the idea that I take the job because I’ve had two previous stints at a different Amazon warehouse, including one where I was fired for inadequate productivity. It is highly possible that were I to accept that Amazon job, it would not only be temporary (i.e. without benefits) but present challenges to my weak manual dexterity skills. Or perhaps not. The online test I took during the application process involved stowing, one of the occupations at Amazon warehouses which I’ve never tried before. But my step-mother decreed that this job was not for me. So that settles it apparently. I quickly shut down in the face of her brusqueness. Like always, I was unable to stand up to her. I hate that woman more than anything on this earth.

At the end of the workday on Tuesday i received what I initially considered marvelous news. My step-mother had made contact with my DVR case manager. The latter said she would be able to engage in some sort of maneuver which would get past the barrier of my employer’s claim that my 2012 Asperger’s diagnosis was too old. By some sort of decree she could make my diagnosis current. Thus submission of Americans with Disability Act forms to ensure my protection on the job could begin. My job coach, stirred to action, promised to produce all sort of flow charts and other documents based on my training materials that would help me on the job. On Wednesday my case worker launched an e-mail to the company official in charge of disability and asked to know why the company was unable to grant my job coach the right to assist me on the job. As of Friday afternoon, this official had not replied to the e-mail. My job coach promised to produce highly impressive documents based on some of my job’s training materials by Friday but she had not done so by the end of that day.

On Thursday, during our team huddle, my boss informed me or seemed to state words to the effect that, when I found myself working alone the following week without my asshole trainer, I would be able to request a reduced feed of calls from company employees with questions about the company expense report software if I found it too troubling.

Friday morning was particularly dreadful. I made numerous mistakes with callers and my trainer berated me. The last caller hung up on me and I then impulsively messaged my boss requesting that the calls fed to me relating to the company expense program be reduced as I thought she’d offered the day before.

She immediately called for a Web-ex meeting with myself and our team-lead. Here she explained that she hadn’t meant what I thought she said. For training purposes, I’d been placed above my co-workers in terms of the priority which the phone software sent calls to me, particularly those related to the company expense software. Now, next week, when I would be by myself and without my trainer, I would merely be placed on an equal footing with my co-workers in terms of the level of calls I’d receive about any subject.

She told me with a good natured chuckle that I needed me to calm down. She said I’d have a great many more “bad calls” because I was still learning. To find the right information to help callers, I needed to practice putting callers on hold, asking my co-workers questions and using my notes and the training materials they’d made available. She said “I can’t keep trying to placate you.”

On Friday afternoon, by myself without my asshole trainer, I received two calls at the very end of the day from company vendors who claimed the delays in receiving their payment were intolerable. I succumbed to their badgering and took a phone number and e-mail address from one and an e-mail address from another. In communicating with third party vendors, I’m not supposed to agree to take phone numbers but e-mails are acceptable. I also gave one of the vendors my boss’s first name. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to do that. In these cases I believe company policy is that I should have resisted the callers much more extensively before I agreed to take down their information and have somebody contact them. However, I’m simply incapable of engaging in such manipulation. I didn’t have time on Friday to forward the vendors’ information to my boss. I didn’t manage to get the first names of either of the callers. Perhaps I will be chastised for all this tomorrow.

My hopes of receiving disability protections on this job that appeared so bright last Tuesday have appeared to come to naught. There is really no logical reason why I should be granted “reasonable accommodations” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at this job. How can I be granted the accommodation of receiving minimal work in answering calls and lowering my level of activity to reduce my stress when the entire job revolves around phone communication and a high level of activity?

My only consolation is that I’m no longer to be guided by the trainer and will be able to work alone. Perhaps the removal of the stress of this asshole overseeing me and biting my head off will allow me to perform better.

Have I reached the end of my rope?

This past week at work was pretty bad. I struggled to take calls from fellow company employees who had questions relating to the company’s expense reporting system.

My trainer has frequently been unpleasant with me when I put the caller on hold and ask him to give me the information the caller is requesting. If he would just give me the damm answer instead of giving me clues so I can possibly recall the answer, possibly it would then be easier for me to ingrain the information in my mind. I can certainly do without the openly abrasive tone he took with me on Thursday and Friday morning. He implied on Thursday that he was upset that I hadn’t grasped a key point from his training about the placement of receipts in the expense report program. This attitude that he displays while listening in on my calls greatly adds to my stress.

The overall training has consisted of him–besides being snarky while he listens to me take calls– presenting me with an unbelievably huge mass of information in his rapid-fire nasal voice and having me observe him take calls (in his rapid fire nasal voice). During the early part of the training, my mind was distracted by the serious illness of my father. Moreover there is my auditory processing issues which make it very difficult to be instructed by a fast talking windbag like him. More stress is added by the fact that my boss has forbade access to the company VPN outside of work hours. She doesn’t want people doing company related work off the clock. Thus I have been reluctant to log on during my free time and try to explore the software systems, e-mails and other materials related to the job. However I have actually done some such off the clock exploring. The boss allowed me to spend the second half of the day on Friday reviewing the training material with my trainer. This was helpful– the trainer is much more pleasant when he is not getting frustrated observing my ineptitude in taking calls. But will it be helpful enough?

On Thursday my father was alarmed by my doleful demeanor when he visited my apartment. In previous days he had brushed off my stories with breezy cliches like “it’ll get better” or “it sounds like it’s gonna be a struggle for a while longer but just think how much you’re learning. ” He told my step-mother about my mood and she called me Thursday evening.

My step-mother asked me if I thought the job was going to be a continuing source of stress for me. I said I thought it was. She said it was obvious that call center jobs–like the one I currently have. were not my forte. She also said that I couldn’t keep switching jobs at the rate I’d been doing

in the last few years. She said we needed to be “realistic”about the type of jobs at which I’d succeed. According to her, the ideal job for me would be one where I would be assigned simple, repetitive tasks. I need to be in a job where my mind isn’t required to process too much sensory input. In the mean-time she ordered me to ask my boss if I could have time off the phones to study the expense report software we use–the boss refused on Friday morning She also said more pressure needed to be put on my job coach to do something, any damm thing at all she can think of to alleviate my problem. She sent off a very urgent e-mail to the job coach on Friday morning telling her that I was very stressed out and needed immediate hands on job coaching. The previous evening I also wrote the job coach–neither of us had received an reply as of Friday. My step-mother says she is going to call my state’s disability agency–which administers the contract my job coach’s firm has for assisting me in employment related matters–and make complaints.

But what can the job coach do? My employer refuses to deal with her because my diagnosis for Asperger’s, Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, Et al is out of date i.e. from 2012. Moreover the job coach lives about 40 miles from my apartment and thus has found it very difficult to meet me for one on one interaction in the midst of her duties to all her other clients. She clocks out of her own job when I get off mine so there is little opportunity for a virtual meeting.

My step-mother was enchanted by one of the documents I received from the company upon being hired. This consisted of a general statement to the effect that my employer greatly valued disabled workers. I had not made any effort at this point to inform them of my disability and his is one of the documents they give to every new hire, whether disabled or not. This statement was simply corporate PR fluff but when my step-mother desperately wants to believe something she is more than willing to take things at face value. In her alarmingly excitable manner, she declared numerous times her belief that my employer would make a wonderful home for a disabled person like myself. Now that I may crash and burn out of this job, I fear she is going to be nearly unbearably unpleasant. As my dad said not that long ago, she is “no fun” when she feels things in her life are not as orderly as they should be and resist her attempts at control.

She has a serious control freak problem. The situation I’m currently in would be easier to deal with if she was not the dominant influence in my life. After my heart surgery of December 2017, she seized the opportunity to gain access to my bank account. She is absolutely obsessed with money to the point where her brother in law felt the need to text her last Spring and tell her that she wasn’t fun to hang out with because of that obsession. The brother in law also told her that she she should treat my dad less as a servant and more as a partner. She, of course, heatedly denied that she treated my dad as anything other than a partner.

My step-mother generously allows me a measure of autonomy in the administration of my bank account. I’m the sole signee to the lease on my apartment so perhaps I have a tiny room for maneuverability to maintain my small measure of independence. She has also talked of selling me the 2013 Honda I’ve been driving.

But her access to my bank account has made it nearly impossible for me to try to use my modest earnings to maneuver out of her control. I’ve thought of various ideas related to thar maneuvering but nothing has come to fruition.

Neither she nor my father can grasp what absolute mental torture it is for an autistic person like myself to be placed in a job making serious demands upon mental faculties and communication skills which I posses in only weak quantity. They may reference their own stressful job experiences in the past but there is really no fair comparison between mine and theirs just as there is no fair comparison between my neurological structure and theirs–or between their ability to navigate this world and my own. The worry about my own inability to navigate this world is an added stress when faced with an unstable situation at a job i.e. one’s foundation for financial survival.

It may be that–as my trainer has implied–the mental beatings I’ve taken as I’ve handled calls with such extraordinary ineptitude during my training are necessary experiences for me to become a better worker. For me personally as an Autistic, I think it is pretty close to genuine psychological torture.

Being Full of Shit

Part of my job involves answering calls from vendors wondering about the status of invoices owed to them by my emplolyer, a major health care provider. Sometimes an invoice may be placed on hold because certifications needs to be obtained from multiple branches of the company that the vendor is providing quality service at a reasonable price. When a vendor calls whose invoices have been placed on such a hold, my co-workers and I are not supposed to tell them frankly what is going on but give them vague generalities that the vendor’s invoices are currently being processed for payment and a promise to submit a ticket to our Accounts Payable research team to make an inquiry into the matter.

A lady who called today had had her company’s account with my employer placed on such a hold but I could not tell her that. She said that her company had not been paid by my employer since February but that they nonetheless had continued providing services. She kept pestering me, asking if there was someone else she could talk to who could give her more specific information about her company’s account status. She said that a research ticket had already been submitted previously on her behalf and that a person on the research team had written her that her company needs to submit documents in order to receive payment of invoices. But she wasn’t told what documents needed to be submitted. Responding to cues from my trainer, who was listening on another line, I kept reiterating that the best I could do was update the ticket that had been submitted and write on it that she was urgently awaiting news on the release of the hold. She asked me if she could leave a phone number for somebody with my employer to reach out to her. I thought I saw my trainer on his Web-ex screen make a motion of his face indicating approval.

After the call finished, my trainer told me that writing down her phone number was wrong because it gave her the false promise that somebody would call her back with an update. There was nothing we could do in our department but wait for the proper company officials to decide to lift the hold. In the meantime, every time she called in the future, we could keep making updates to the previous ticket that was made for her and hope that such updates spurred certain co-workers to action. In the meantime we could share very little with her.

I’ve gotten a job which is the front line in dealing with problems faced by my employer’s vendors and employees in dealing with Accounts Payable related problems. It is illustrative of my luck in the last ten years that I–who stumbles over my words when talking, has general verbal communication problems and hates to be unfair to others–have found myself in this position. I don’t like bullshitting people especially when unfairness is involved. I not only don’t like it but find it very difficult to do. My trainer told me today that in nearly six years of doing the job he’s training me to do, he had developed the ability to say alot without saying anything at all. I wish I had his capacity for loquacity.

My dad told me tonight on the phone that I shouldn’t take it personal when I have issues with callers. He’s always telling me not to take it personal when I have unpleasant encounters with other people. He dosen’t understand that I don’t take these things personal but they do give me varying degrees of trauma. This trauma is a consequence of how my brain is wired not a matter of changing my perspective.

Today I took part in a Web-ex “coffee hour” with two other recently hired employes and the head of the company branch which employs me. One of the other new employees was a relatively young woman who stated that interaction with large numbers of people gives her sensory overload–thus she appreciates the opportunity to work from home. She also said she was “awkward.” When it was my turn to introduce myself I said I was also awkward. She laughed nervously and seemed to be crying at one point, perhaps from nerves. She has a job where she does nothing but key in data from invoices. I think this was the job I originally applied for with the company. The company interviewed me for this data entry job and the interviewer also offered me consideration for the call center job with which I’m now stuck. I accepted consideration for the call center gig because I wanted to give my step-mother an indication that my job search process was moving forward. Unfortunately I got that job and now I’m just trying to get through each day with relative composure.

Trying to Find Accomodations at Work

Yesterday, my job coach created a short draft of possible accomodations that I should ask for in spite of my employer refusing to consider accomodations for me because I lack a recent neuro-psych evaluation. My diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, along with Non-Verbal Learning Disorder and ADD, occurred in 2012.

This list of possible accomodations included the delay of me acquiring more phone responsibility until I felt more comfortable; 30 minutes before lunch and and also at the end of the workday to organize my notes and other materials; and another opportunity to work on a a set of job-related practice activities that my trainer and I previously went over.

To make a long story short I chickened out of making these requests. I e-mailed a request for the accomodations to the appropriate company official but later sent another message withdrawing the requests. I did ask for more time to organize my notes and the boss gave me the last two hours of the day to do so. During my meeting today with the boss and team lead, I was leery of requesting a limit on my exposure to phone callers. The boss has indicated in the past she would be willing to limit such exposure but only if I demonstrated apallingly bad phone skills. It is much too early for such an assessment to be made.

There is a clear power imbalance between me and my employer. Also, I do so poorly at standing up for myself–in large part because I feel I have no choice but to give in. I got the impression at the meeting today that my boss and team lead thought I might be trying to express certain thoughts but was instead timidly dancing around issues by using vague language. I can’t quit this job–my father and step-mother won’t let me. It is possible that I eventually may be able to master the job’s fundamentals but the neurotypicals who control my life–my father and step-mother–can’t imagine what a dreadful strain it is in trying to succeed at work which requires skills which I’m not wired to perform well (e.g. auditory processing and verbal communication). How can I request accomodations in the areas of verbal communication and auditory processing when those are the two main requirements of the job?

I never thought I’d meet another person as obnoxious as my step-mother but my trainer at the job defintely fits the bill. The loud, nasal voice in which he delivers his lessons about the job’s responsibilities and critiques my performance is extremely grating. During the morning today, he was loud but somewhat spacy. For some reason, there were several cases today where he prefered not to assist me with coaching through the company’s Jaber chat system as he listened to me talking on another line with a caller. Instead, he talked in a voice that was almost completely inaudble over the Web-Ex system–because of my connection on another line with a caller, his connection with me was made nearly inaudbile. I had to strain to catch even a partial understanding as he muttered what I was doing wrong while I tried to talk to the caller on the other line. He has a chronic inability to be succinct and clear in his statements. During at least two points in the morning, he became openly abrasive with me. He is a curious young man: effusive and friendly but also capable of reverting to an arrogance and bossiness as a trainer. He has told me recently that I’ve done well on some calls while also showing flaws on others, including a stiffness of speech and allowing a caller in one instance “to guide the call.” I hate him.

My step-mother afflicted me with a phone call after work. She and my father were returning by car after dropping her sister and brother in law at the airport for a return trip home to Wisconisn. She was driving the car and was in a neurotic frenzy, bellowing at my dad in one instance and giving me a rambling lecture, including the wisdom that the Cherios she recently brought for me were useful as snacks. My dad’s bout with Valley Fever in their midst of moving into their new house has messed with her mind. As my dad said not that long ago, when she loses her sense of order and control over her environment, “she’s no fun.” Before the visit of of her sister and brother in-law began a week and a half ago, she was obsessed with her dislike of their new house. She had suddenly discovered that it was “too big,” had an atrocious interior paint job and was much too big for my dad to help maintain as he recovers his strength from Valley Fever. She is forever making big decisions and then going into hysterics in regret about them. She went into a mental funk after she melodramatically quit her job as a computer programmer in April 2018 because she felt her employer didn’t properly appreciate her. She went into a frantic unsuccessful exploration of possibilities to void a deal she made last year to sell their previous house because she thought she got short-changed on the price. Now she has loudly announced that she dosen’t like their new house after she approved the purchase of it and moved into it.

Things Ain’t Going Real Good Right Now

Today at work was not good.

First of all, I finally received a response from a company official about possible Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accomodations. I was informed that my diangostic report from 2012 was too old and that any accomodations would have to be based on a new diagnosis.

Second, my trainer was his usual hyper self. I’ve now taken four or five calls from company venders and have mostly done badly. The callers have almost all made requests for enlightenment in subjects which I’ve been the least trained. I did get one call today on a relatively straightforward matter which I handled almost flawlessly and I could see my trainer full of exhuberance on his Web-Ex screen. This was the second call of the day; the first call was problematic and I put the caller on hold. The trainer grew very pushy and made impatient gestures for me to wrap up the call because he had to take a break to guide his six year old twin daughters to the bus stop. Later in the day, something appeared to be wrong with my screen sharing capacity and this made him more loud and fast talking. He kept asking me questions in his lound, aggressive voice involving details about various procedures on the job that I couldn’t remember and trying to give me unhelpful clues to the answer instead of giving me a straight answer. I was experiencing full on sensory overload by the end of the day.

The trainer had to leave an hour and a half early to pick up his daughters from school. As a result, he tried to rush through his oversight of me filling out a ticket to submit a request to void a check. As I rushed through filling out the form I grew confused about where the submit button was. I clicked on an “add feedback” button instead and as the form that appeared would not allow me to type in my work e-mail, I wrote in my personal e-mail for what I thought would be receiving a receipt for the submitted ticket. Instead I soon received a message on my work e-mail informing me that I’d sent an e-mail containing encrypted information to an unknown e-mail. My boss was included in this e-mail alert. Thus I supposed I shall have to explain myself tommorow. As I errenously clicked on the “Add Feedback” button, my trainer asked me in his pestering way if I had clicked “submit.” I said “yes” to get him off my back and because I actually thought the “Add Feedback” button might have been a correct choice. After my trainer left, I went back and resubmitted the ticket in proper fashion, discovering the proper “submit” button.

I really don’t have anyone with whom I can vent. As he is recovering from Valley Fever, my father is frequently too tired to talk on the phone–tonight he texted that he had a “bad headache.” My step-mom has been attending to her visiting sister and brother-in-law and, in any case, probably wouldn’t have anything useful to say. I still remember the time she denounced me brusquely for being “too sensitive.” She has indicated in the past the belief that my trouble at finding a job that dosen’t cause me stress is a considerable stress to her as well. I remember her scoffing at me for lasting only three weeks at a dreadful warehouse job in 2019–although she herself had recently quit a job after a month because she was still in a mental funk as a result of regret she felt because she had chosen to leave a job the previous year–for an employer she has since reunited with, working in a temp position since June 2020.

I have a strong dislike for my step-mother. Most of the decisions I make in my life are based on how she will react. She is a dreadful control freak. She insists on being a dictator in any intimate relationship, particularly with regard to money. I only accepted this call center job to allay her stress about my job prospects. In recent years, it would have been better for my well-being to take on part-time white collar work so as to slowly gain experience instead of being thrown into a situation for which I’m badly prepared (as currently) But she forbade me to accept the part time employment disability employment programs have offered me in the past. I have followed her orders so as to keep her happy or rather keep her from getting too excitable. I get over-sensitized in dealing with loud, overbearing people as she all too often is and easily give in. She has been relatively agreeable to deal with recently: I wouldn’t want to break the news to her of any serious trouble at my current job.

I

Difficulties at Work

My current job–a call center gig–revolves around verbal communication, a skill in which I’m significantly lacking. It also revolves around relatively quick auditory processing and high energy–skills which I’m also found wanting.

This past Monday, during a team huddle on WebEx, I leaned to the side of my work desk to look at my notebook as I momentarily paused to gather my thoughts to write something down. After a second, the idea I had to write down evaporated in my mind. Toward the end of this brief, awkward maneuver of my body, my boss, working from home like most of the rest of the team, asked me if I was Ok. I responded briefly to the effect that I was checking my notes. She then told me to set up straight, with face forward. She may have also added a little chuckle.

A fuller explanation of my bodily contortion that apparently annoyed her is that my desk is a dining table stationed horizonataly against a wall. My set-up is two computer monitors, a laptop and keyboard–this takes up virtually the entire space between the keyboard and the wall. It seems easier for me to place my notebook to the side of the table if I need to make a note or consult the notebook.

I felt my boss was possibly treating me in a patronizing fashion. In relatively mild fashion, it fed into my insecurities about appearing to be awkward and looked down upon. Perhaps she would have said something similar to a neurotypical co-woker if the latter appeared to her as being in an awkward body position during a WebEx chat. I also was upset that my wit was incapable of giving a fuller explanation of how the set-up of my computer equipment and desk make it desireable to have my notebook situated at the side of the desk and thus cause me to lean to the side, apparently awkwardly from my boss’s perspective.

As I continue in training, I worry greatly that I will be unable to handle the very heavy multi-tasking, auditory procesing and sensory load the job requires. I fear that I will be too slow in terms of understanding the requests of callers, especially those who use imprecise language or have accents. My trainer is an extremely hyper, fast talking gentleman. He is highly personable and his earnest and wholesome demeanor has its appealing side but his nasal, nerdy voice can also be grating. He talks non-stop and it is hard to keep up with him. I’ve had a hard time with the executive organization necessary to organize the notes and other training materials necessary to provide me with the knowledge to do the job. In the second half of the day, my eyes frequently get fatigued from constant staring at a computer screen. The trainer, in his aggressive way, constantly peppers me with various questions about topics he has gone over with me and I frequently can’t remember the right answer. I’ve made a much stronger effort this weekend to go over my notes so as to reinforce my knowledge. I only wish that I can have more control over my own training, learn in the ways I learn best rather than being lulled into a near stupor by being forced to listen eight hours a day to the never ending stream of fast talk of my trainer. The trainer seems congentially incapable of being concise in his speech; the other day I gave the wrong answer to a topic he quizzed me on for review purposes. He then went into a lengthy tangent about why the answer was wrong and why people might reasonably think the wrong answer was the right answer. I remember my attention span weakening as my mind desperately tried to pick out clues in his discourse about what the right answer might be.

On Friday, I was upset that some of my co-workers were apparently slightly irrirtated that I unwittingly shared my computer screen with them as interacted one-on-one with my trainer. I’m sure that my reaction to this incident has been at least a little over-sensitive–but that is the way I am. I have great difficulty in brushing unpleasant incidents off. Sometimes I’m paranoid but often my fears our well grounded. I’ve been treated abrasively and looked down upon in the past more times than I can possibly count because of my flat demeanor, learning disabilities, etc. Masking in order to have adequte verbal communication with the neurotypical world is extremely exhausting–I’m not wired internally to engage in such communication in a “normal” way.

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