Everything is a matter of perception

It is said that we, autistics, can be very fixated on how things should be. Not being able to buy our favourite curry sauce can cause some of us a massive meltdown or at least put us under stress.

I was brought up in a communist country which meant massive queue forming outside of the shop from 8am because meat will be delivered sometimes around 11. The same would apply to sugar, exotic fruits (lemons were quite easy to find but oranges were only available a few times a year) or chocolate. The worst that I remember was when the only product in stock in a shoe shop was… vinegar. Seriously, I don’t exaggerate. Apart from that shops just didn’t have many choices, there was one type of cheese only and plain kefir instead of yoghurt. Possibly two types of biscuits and two types of candies, one type of bread spread and two types of jam.

That started changing when I was aboht 12 but it was a slow process and the first proper, large supermarket was only built in town near to where I used to live when I was in my early 20s. Before that all my family shopping were being done in small convenience stores.

Therefore when I now go to get groceries my expectations are never very high. When I manage to get something reminiscent of what I was intending to buy I’m always happy and if it was on offer, that’s even better! If what I really wanted is not available I’ll just get something different, that is not a problem.

However, I know an autistic man who believes that supermarkets are always half empty. He can drive to three different ones if what he intended to buy is not in stock, even though there are plenty of other attractive products, including those that contain mushrooms (his favourite food ingredient). Why is that? Possibly because he assumed that supermarkets are places that store the food that he wants to buy, which is kind of true but it can’t be true every single time. I wonder how this can be changed?

However, my problem are buses: every time when bus don’t turn up on time I get really irritated, even if I’m not in a rush and the weather is nice.

I was brought up in a village with the closest bus stop 15 minutes fast walk away from my family home. The buses were coming once an hour or so but they were not spread evenly so we needed to have written time table at home or we wouldn’t know when to leave to be able to catch it. I found that very limiting and always wanted to live in town.

And that’s what happened: I’m in Swindon, medium size town an hour on the train from London. The bus is every 8 minutes on my bus stop, so when it doesn’t turn up on time it feels to me like everything that I ever wanted in life (well, yes, that’s an exaggeration but you know what I mean) is being taken away from me.

And now, what’s happening is, there are some roadworks a few bus stops away from where I live and buses had to change the route. There is a sign on the permanent bus stop that this bus stop is not in use and passengers need to use the temporary bus stop on the other side of the cross road. However, some buses use a different diversion and end up using the permanent bus stop as a result. I guess this is probably because otherwise residents of a rather long road would have to walk quite far to be able to get to town by bus. But the thing is, there’s no order in that. I don’t know if it’s every other one that use the permanent bus stop or what and asking the driver doesn’t make any sense because every single one says his route is the right one.

Therefore, when I was intending to go to town today, I sat on the bus stop, the permanent one, and thought to myself: the bus will either come or it won’t. It probably will… at some point.

Normally buses are every 8 minutes, why I was being so silly getting upset that it’s 2 minutes late? We can’t control the world around us but perception is everything and if the bus is two minutes late that doesn’t mean I don’t live in town any more.

So it looks like part of my perception has been changed. Let’s see if it lasts long enough for me not to get stressed about minor delays later on when the roadworks will end.

3 responses to “Everything is a matter of perception”

  1. It’s interesting how we get used to certain things being reliable and other things not. I grew up in a small town with no buses, and when I moved to the city, the bus schedule wasn’t very reliable, so that’s what I came to expect. I was so thrilled when I was on vacation in Switzerland and everything was exactly on time.

    Liked by 1 person

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