Thursday, February 24, 2011

Customer Service Means Equal Respect For All

Customer Service Means Equal Respect For All--I Was Discriminated Against Again At A Local Chain Restaurant Tonight!!
by Melissa Fields on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 2:53am
It is now 2011!!!! This needs to stop already!!!!! The bullying and mistreatment of children and adults who have special needs is a very real--and serious issue--and it is still happening!!!!! It happened to me again tonight in a local restaurant that is part of a national chain of health-conscious places to eat. All i wanted was to eat something that was healthy and fresh for a change---and my efforts only caused me more in the way of uneeded heartache for myself.

This is going to be a long post, but this all needs to be said and addressed, so, please take the time to read it---because these people who are being mean---they do not realize the very real harm they are causing us when they treat us this way. I have just as much right to eat at that place as anyone else---and to be made to feel as welcomed and comfortable. But----this didn;t happen for me tonight--and you know, after all was said and done, i left that establishment feeling so demoralized and disempowered that i was actually feleling like driving my car off the nearest cliff. I wanted to just melt straight into the seat of my car and die, because of the way i was treated by the manager of that place.

The past few weeks i have been having alot more frequent stomache upsets than i normally do. Since i have alot of sensory issues/obsessions about preparing and cooking my own meals, i either eat entrees that can easily be popped in my microwave and heated, or i make simple sandwiches, and i also keep a large stock of the larger plastic drinking cups, Chinet heavy duty paper platters, and plastic silverware on hand, so i don't have to bother with washing i also have a sensory issue when it comes to washing, did i clean and disinfect the germs off of them enough? When i don't eat these things at home, i eat out, in order to get the things, such as beef, chicken, steamed cooked vegetables, baked potatoes, enchiladas, and other foods that i oftentimes crave....but can't have, because i cannot cook these thngs for myself. By the way, before i go on, for all of my new friends who do not yet know...i am a middle aged autistic adult....someone who is today, suffering on so many levels because i have never been able to get the help, treatments, interventions, services and supports so i could be able to grow up to have a real chance at being able to lead a normal productive life as an adult.

It is this way for most if us adults who are on the spectrum. It's this way for me.

I am also a real people person, too. In fact, i am overly friendly, and i actually just love, love, LOVE to be around and talk to/hang out with others when they are nice, friendly, kind, and accepting of me. And that is the other reason why i often eat out. For the social contact and rapport that i have with many of the servers, cooks, and managers of these restaurants. If i like a place...i keep going back to it. But....that's where the problems begin to manifest themselves, because, invariably, as these people continue to see me, and get to know me, they, for some strange reason, seem to begin to soon grow tired of me always having to have things a certain food, my money, and the way i am talked to. Or else---i end up having meltdowns in their restaurant, either because someone was not friendly to me, or they are out of the iced tea and i have to resort back to drinking Pepsi or Coke, which i don't want to drink all the time, because i think Pepsi and Coke make my legs more swollen and sore. Or if there is no ice in the machine. Other things that can make me meltdown in a restaurant are when other kids or teenagers start staring at me and giggling and making fun of me. I am extremely fine-tuned to peoples body language, their tones of voice, eyes, mouths, and the way their countenances the point of being hypersensitive. For some reason---i have always been the most hypersensitive in these areas. Now, when i say i meltdown in public...i don't mean that i meltdown where i am screaming and bawling. When i get upset in a public reactions will range from being rude, abrupt and outspoken to the offending party(ies), only because i get in real anxiety modes when there is no iced tea or ice, or my food is all wrong....or i will stand there in front of the drink/ice machine and huff and puff loudly, and let out swear words under my breath, shaking my heaed repeatedly, while i wait for someone to make new iced tea, or replenish the ice....again, it is not that i am being a spoiled is because of the mode of anxiety i go into when these things happen. I like to think that i am a nice person----and, believe me, i do try to be nice and polite to people whenever possible--because that is how my parents and grandparents raised me to be. And----because----i like to be nice and friendly to everyone!!!! In fact, another real pet peeve of mine that really gets under my skin, is when i hold open the door for someone and they pass through, and look at me, and they don't smile at me---and they don't say "Thank you," to me!! I will often react by saying loud enough so they can be sure to hear----"'re WELCOME!!" Or, and here's a good one!! Alot of times when i go to the post office to check my P. O. box, it is sometimes a real nightmare just to get a decent parking spot. But, when i go back out to my car, start it back up, put it into reverse, and start to back out...invariably, someone--and then, several someones decide to all invade the parking lot behind me, and they will NOT let me out---even though i have my reverse lights on, and am creeping out, ever so slowly...inch by inch....then, i roar like a lion, i am so mad. Again, not because i am trying to be mean...but because there is a point where i just can't stay patient anymore, because my senses overload..and then---WHAM!! I am at my worst when i am at the post office, because it is often too crowded. Our city is growing too large now, to just continue to make-do with the one big post office we have....they needed to build a second one yesterday, darnit!!!!!!! But--my meltdowns can sometimes consist of yelling at people too...but that is usually out in the open air....not in a restaurant, that i do my yelling. In side buildings, i do try to contian it to a reasonable level. I do get kind of loud, if i get angry enough though, and there was one place where things actually DID escalate into me screaming hysterically----but that was back in 1997, at a buffet restaurant where there were several teenage employees who ganged up on me to make my visits there a living hell....and one day, things got so bad, that i left out of there screaming hysterically, got in my car, came home and threw my whole meal up in the kitcxhen sink. I have never been back to that particular establishment.

Anyway, now to get to why i am writing this note: earlier tonight, i decided to eat at a national chain restaurant that specializes in delicious, but very healthy breads, salads, soups, fruit, awesome sandwiches, pastries, and cookies. This place is one of my favorite places to eat, as they have always been very patient, kind, nice and accomodating of my sensory issues. I sometimes like to take a good book there to read while i eat.....and...they have wi-fi there if i had a laptop, i could also surf the internet if i wanted to, while i eat. It is a very nice place to relax. However, again, a couple of their managers lost their patience of me, when i began to complain and take up too much of their times with wanting to talk. One lady, in partcular, started to become really really LOUD with me...always shouting-down at me, instead of talking TO me in a normal tone of voice--if you know what i mean. Well, I didn't like it. People who do that, do that because they want you to be and stay beneath them. They do it to try to get rid of you. They do it because they want you out of their hair, so to speak. So---- I grew to not like that particular lady anymore, and i began to go in when she wasn't there, to avoid her.

Well...tonight, i went there, because i just had to have a sandwich with turkey, bacon, melted cheddar cheese,a cup of theri broccoli cheese soup, and a fresh fruit bowl. Well, comt to find out, that lady was there---plus, there were two new cooks in the back, who both had very unfriendly attitudes. The two girls in front were really nice...but gone were all of my other friends---and in back were these two new "thugs" , who wouldn't smile or say hi to me, like the other cooks always did. Even so, i still wanted to eat there...because my mouth was really, really, really watering for fresh fruit and soup and a sandwich.

So i ordered. On my way back, i tried my best to make freinds with the two new cooks---but they only got a tiny bit more nice----so----i knew these guys were going to be a problem. I got my iced tea and fruit punch mix, and sat down. Pretty soon, my food came. One of the new cooks brought it to me, but he remained cold and unfriendly. Even so, I dug into my broccoli soup, then took a bite of one of the apple slices, then ate some of the mixed fruit. Then, when i got to my sandwich---i went to pick it up-----and-----looked-----and felt the bacon----and----found the bacon----to be----as cold as ice!!!!!!! THIS was WRONG!!!!!!! Up i got, and i marched straight over to the back counter where the one new cook was, and i told him to please make me a new sandwich, that i had ordered it as a grilled melt...and that the bacon needed to be cooked. And, no, i was not nice about it, because by this time, i was angry.

I went back and went on eatting my mixed fruit, soup, and apple. my sandwich still was in the process of being made..i would have really liked to be able to have it there to eat with my other food....but i waited and waited. I finally caught one of the floor girls, and asked her to get the anager. When the manager came, it was that lady who hated me from before, and again, she she didn't talk to me...she began shouting down at me, with her hands on her hips, and a large clipboard in one hand, as she peered down at me in a very condescening but forced friendly manner......."Well, hello, Missy, what seems to be the trouble?" in a voice so loud and sarcastic that i was embarrassed. It was obvious she did not want to deal with me anymore than she had to, by the way she kept arching her eyebrows, and acting like she was eager to to walk away.she took my receipt, so she could make sure my sandwich could be done to my specs. But by the time my sandwich did come, i had already finsihed my soup, and fruit. That alone, ruined my meal. But i felt, on top of that, like my face had just been hit by a ton of shaved ice by the way the mean manager was shouting down at me her high perch.

She brought me my sandwich...still shouting down to me, to tell me she'd be back to see how i liked the new sandwich. I wish i could make a video of the way she was shout-talking at would totally describe what it was like....thast this lady was being abusive to me. I was so upset that i could feel all the muscles in my face contort nto one of my famous looks of distress that i get when i'm upset so deep down inside, but can't meltdown.

Through all of this....i remained calm----i never once raised my voice---she did all the shout-talking down to me. I asked to have her come back to my table to remind her that i am autistic and that her yelling was not appropriate. Though she now lowered her voice, she still belittled me, saying that i just had to get used to it, it is the way she talkes. I knew that was bull. I asked her where Lindsay and all the others were---and she said they were all in the new store up in San Luis Obispo--that i was stuck woith her now, and the new workers..and that i'd just have to get used to them now. Then, when she went back behind her counter---i could actually hear her complain to one of the other girls: "Oh yea, and she was also saying i was yelling at her!!" OKAY!!!! THAT was IT for ME!!!!! I didn't like being continued to be talked at and down to like this---and THEN when i overheard her complaining about me not liking her loud i finally finished my last delicious but ruined juicy red seedless grapes.....i went to refill my tea...and i went and while the lady was in the back, i asked the other girl if she had indeed made remarks about me...she said had the lady called back out...and i requested to have my money refunded.

Yes, i did have my entire meal refunded. But....this was yet anither case of downright discrimination of a disabled person, all because this manager felt she could get away with it----and all the more reason why we have to get the message out there that this knd of crud cannot, and should not, be tolerated any longer.

Please feel free to comment and share this on your walls. If anyone of you want to know the name of the establishment where this incident occured, you can private message me, and i will tell you. I feel that this lady should be fired, or at least that she should work in a department or job where she does not have to deal with the public, because dealing with the public means just that: you have to learn to deal with everyone who comes into your establishment with equal respect and dignity--and if someone is a person who has special needs, you need to have the training to be able to accomodate that person's needs. All it takes is for people to have love, acceptance, and patience for all people. If a person doesn't have that, than they need to look for work elsewhere.

Thank you and God bless!!!! <3<3<3<3

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rivers Of Tears, Rivers Of Heartaches

Sometimes i think i just want to roll right up into a ball and give up---deactivate my whole Facebook account and turn off the computer and just-----lie back on my couch and wait for God to take me Home.

I ache huge rivers whenever i see my brothers and sisters, sisters in laws, and nieces and nephews all interacting....when i see that they are laughing, and having fun, all over Facebook....and i am not able to ever join in---i always just have to stand way up in the stands and watch them all from afar.....because they will not let me befriend them.

My family..and they have to be strangers to me...this is a hurt that i cannot just forget and shove under the rug as it hurts like a never ending stab wound right in my side all the time.....

I ache the same when a friend who was once close...suddenly loses it with me and goes off on me because she can't handle me anymore, and she turns viciously angry with me----then she cuts me off at the knees.

When i do sleep...sometimes my dreams are so beautiful...all these beautifully woven tapestries woven together of all the places i long to see but cannot in real life.

A few mornings ago, i dreamed that i was staying in a nice New York City apartment right in the center of Mid-Town Manhattan. All through this dream, i wandered up and down the streets, seeing Central Park, and it ended with me eatting at a small diner, having breakfast for dinner. It was still light outside, as the days were getting longer, and the waitress, a middle-aged blonde curly headed lady, was very nice to me. My dream ended, and i awoke to one of my very painful stomache upsets. Painful stomache upsets that i have quite often, because of all my stress and worry.

It took me two hours to get my stomache calmed down again...and then i went back to sleep again...and this time i dreamed that i was in Milwaukee, staying in a huge airy penthouse apartment with all these other ladies who were interior designers who worked with HGTV. It was Springtime, and evetything was all green and there were lots of flowers all around. Nearby Lake Michigan was a beautiful, sparkly shade of dark blue, shimmering in the noonday sun. I was all excited and happy....and i felt so at peace there. I had my own rental car, and was going to even take a drive that afternoon down to South Milwaukee to see my friend Tricia.

Then i awoke again to more hot rods...and the cold harsh reality that i was NOT in Milwaukee, but still living here on Mean Bully Monster Street.

That afternoon i found out that my mother had talked to my aunt again--and--once again, even though my mother told her how serious things are getting for me now, with my legs and the street, my aunt made no mention of helping me, and that was that.

I try to be happy and upbeat...but it is hard to keep positive when all of the doors seem to stay shut.

So...i just continue to write....with the hopes that someday the right person will see these notes and blogs...and i will finally be rescued from this pit. So that i, a middle-aged autistic lady, can finally have a life that is at least halfway bearable to live.

God bless you, everyone!! <3 <3 <3 <3

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A New Update, And Why I Cancelled An Appointment

I was very depressed all day today......and i still am. I only got 4 hours of sleep last night, so i slept for the past three hours after my soap operas were over. Before i go on in this note/blog, i want to explain that i am not writing this to slam anyone, but to explain my circumstances, for the sake of education, as to how difficult it is to exist as an autistic adult who has never, ever had the therapy and treatments she has needed all of her life so that she can learn how to get along and cope in life. I want to explain why i am the way i am, why I do the things the way that i why i had to cancel a doctor's appointment that i had on Tuesday of this week. I am writing this because of some very unfair, cruel allegations that were made about me that i need to defend myself on, that resulted from me cancelling that doctor's appointment.

Number one, it is not easy for me to have and keep friends, because of how complex and sensitive i am. Even so, i am a people person anyway-----i actually love to be around people, and i actually do quite well around people who are warm and friendly and accepting of me. But---sadly, i had to finally end a friendship that i had with a local individual who was attempting to get me healthcare and services, because she did not have alot in the way of patience and understanding of me. We kept butting heads, because of the way she would react and deal with me. This was only adding to my sensory issues....and was causing me to have horrible meltdowns where i was beginnning to go off on her. Sadly, this lady did not have the ability to listen to me when i wanted and needed to talk and vent...she wanted to fix me...and that was the main thing that finally ended up hurting our friendship. I know that i am an extremely complex, difficult and needy person to deal with......but i truly i cannot help that!!!! It is because i am autistic, and my brain and whole body and system are wired a certain way. It is because of the way i grew up, it is because i have had so many a bad experience with neurotypical people who don't take the time to really listen to me, understand and get me, and because of the unhealthy, oppressive environment that i have had to live trapped in for the past 20 years, that is the reason why it has now become even more of a challenge for me to get the healthcare and help that i know i need. I am now so deathly afraid of going to see a doctor by myself...because of all of the bad experiences i have had over the years in doctor's offices, both with doctors and the office staff, mistreating me because they either cannot or won't understand me. For one thing, i am highly allergic to most medication, and also have a long history of other very adverse reactionxs to them, so i take vitamins and minerals instead. I do not want to be forced to have to quit taking my vitamins, and take meds instead, because meds would only further add to my disabilities, and i am afriad of being even more incapacitated than i already am, due to the side effects. I live alone.....and what if some med i was on caused my whole body to just lock up on me? There i would sit, unable to call 911, so i could get an ambulance to take me to the ER!!!! Or, how about meds that would stifle and totally take away my creativity and unique personality that i happen to like? Or--how about if i was always too tired and dizzy to drive myself to the grocery store to do my grocery shopping so i can have milk and cereal and food to eat? Those are things that i am NOT willing to have to endure, on top of the prison i am already in!!!!!

This person who was my friend, said alot of things that are plain wrong----and cruel.

I am NOT afraid to seek medical attention, nor am i using my autism as a crutch...nor are my financial problems self-inflicted either!!!!!!! I cannot my government assistance is the only help i have. Should i have to live my life totally in a box just because i am on government entitlements? Just live without ANY outlets and pleasures at ALL????? For one, i dop NOT eat out because it's a luxury to me...i eat out because i am unable to handle cooking full-on for myself, other than to heat up microwave entrees that i can easily just pop in the microwave. I eat out so i can get the things i cannot cook at home----things like eggs, baked potatoes, vegetables, etc., that i cannot cook for myself. And furthermore....i DO NOT blow my money on frivolous things either!!!!! I pay all of my monthly bills on time...and i adhere to a set budget, every single month!!!!! Dear God in Heaven-----i should not even have to be spending my energy writing this note/blog defending myself like this tonight. I so wish that more people would take the time to UNDERSTAND autism...and how it IS--REALLY IS-----for us who are on the autism spectrum!!!!!!! Have patience with us!!!!! Let us talk, write, vent, and be who we are, and stoop judging us and trying to FIX and CURE us-----PLEASE!!!!!! Life would be SO much easier, if we could have this from the neurotypical world!!!!!!

As for my issues with seeking medical care, the solution that my ex-friend came up with, was for me to finally get hooked up with a clinic that is located way over in another local city, where this lady lives, because she knows all the doctors there, and to set up all of these doctor's appointments up for in the mornings, so that it would fit her schedule, since she also has two boys on the spectrum who she has to give her atention to in the afternoons. This was so she could better advocate for me. Well, that would have been fine......except that, 1), i have an older car, a '95 Toyota Tercel, that needs some repair work done on it. 2), Gas prices are now up to $3.49 a gallon here on the Central Coast of CA----and are expected to rise even higher, and, 3), this other local city where my ex-friend lives, is located 25 miles Southwest of here, on highways that are very hilly, somewhat winding, and much of it is isolated ranchland that i must drive through to get there. Since i have real trouble staying on a set sleep schedule anyway.....mornings are usually my roughest times for me to get going, and i cannot always make appointments that are set in the mornings, due to that. I tend to do alot better after noon, so afternoon appointments are alot easier for me to handle because of this.

Lately, it has once again become harder for me to get to sleep at a reasonable i am once again getting to sleep later and later, and later, again. That is how my sleep schedule is like a circle that is ever changing, ever evolving....never ending.

On Sunday night, i had asked my ex-friend to please cancel my appointment, because i was having too much trouble getting to sleep again, and felt i wouldn't be able to get going in time to make my Tuesday appointment. Even so, the clinic still called, the following morning, with an automated, not live, announcement, to let me know that i still had this appointment. I went to call my ex-friend, all freaked out that my appointment still hadn't yet been cancelled, and she misunderstood, accusing me of jumping down her throat, when i didn't mean it at all to be jumping down her throat....and we had a blowout over it. I told her that i would rather switch to a clinic hat is closer to me, and she could drive here to go with me to this doctor instead...and she said it wouldn't work, so i hung up, frustrated and angry. I called her later on that night, and we began arguing again, because everything i said seemed to all be wrong.

I went to bed that night, very late, because i was so upset about all the arguing...and, as a result, woke up the next morning, Tuesday, at 5:30 in the morning, with a stomache ache so horrible, i felt that i was going to actually die. I am sharing this again, not to slam this ex-friend, but to illustrate how, for those of use who are on the spectrum----how hard it is for us to just jump through other people's hoops---how hard it is for us to live up to the expectations other people try to set for us. I can only do what i can handle....i can only move at a certain pace...and this is because...i just can't do it any other way!!!!!! It isn't that i am trying to be is that i just don't have the capabilites that other people do!!!!!!!!!

I would LOVE to be able to do better than this!!!!!!!. And this morning, i did call Medi-Caid to have my medical clinic switched to another clinic that is only 7 miles North of here, as opposed to the 25 miles of isolated highway i would have to drive to go to my ex- friend's clinic----because again, unlike this lady's cruel allegatuions, i am NOT trying to get out of seing a doctor!!!!!! I KNOW i need medical attention----and i am going to seek it!!!!!!!! I just now have to try to muster the courage to go visit some local churches and see if they can find a kind soul who would be willing to go with me to this new the i won't have to go there all by myself.

I am trying, everyone!!!!! Please continue to keep me in your prayers, and please don't stop being my friends!!!! I pray for my ex-friend too. I pray that this whole world will become a nicer, kinder, gentler place again....because i so hate the fighting and meanness that is so prevalent in today's world. Please hug someone you care about today. Smile at a stranger as they pass you by. Smile at the autistic adult you meet. Give them a chance. Give us all a chance, and please don't get mad and give up on us when we mess up and do it wrong sometimes!!!!!!!

God bless!!!!! <3<3<3<3