Life as a cleaner

Tomorrow is my last day of the cleaning job in a popular clothing shop. My DBS is still not back and I don’t know what I will be doing till I get it. Mind you, I didn’t know I’ll be bored with this job that quickly – it’s only been two weeks and I am already feeling meh. I really feel like I need some meaningful contact with people and having the impression that I have impact on somebody life. When I just started work in care, everything was new and interesting and I wasn’t planning how to get out of it. There is so many job advices for autistics where being a cleaner is considered a good fit for us that I’m really shocked I can’t wait till this job is over. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I tried it, and at least I know how I feel about it, but it really is too repetitive for my liking.

Cleaners sometimes face difficult choices at work. Never heard about a cleaner who damaged art exhibition as she thought it was rubbish? There’s been more than one instance of this type of overzealousness (is that actually a word? Correct me if I’m wrong, as you may know English is not my first language) and when I was at my first university, studying physics in Łódź, we had an academic teacher well into his 60s, who only had a master degree. I don’t know how it works in other parts of the world but in Poland staff with master degree are only allowed to do support tasks with students while they work on their PhD; they can’t deliver lectures or be responsible for exams and this particular teacher was doing it all while, due to his age, it was obvious he had more than enough time to do doctorate. It was very confusing to me, until someone said, and who knows, it could well be true, that his PhD work required to grow some crystals and one day cleaner throw them to the bin!

Poor cleaner, I hope she didn’t get fired for that. Anyway, after that happened, the man told his supervisor he’s not doing it all over again, period, and was allowed to stay and enjoy all PhD privilages. It looks like he wasn’t thinking in terms of infinite games, which is quite sad.

Mind you, he was one of the teachers who made me to study extra hard because I didn’t get all the questions right on the exam, and then, when I finally answered everything he asked me perfectly, he only gave me a C. I was thinking at the time that was because I was the only female in the entire physics group, but now I think, even though that must have play a part (‘you only came here to find a husband’ said in front of everyone else was an acceptable comment at the time, I really do hope things have changed since then) I think my autism was probably also at play. One teacher actually told me she lowered my grade because ‘I look like if I didn’t know what was going on’. But that is how I look when I’m focused on something! Obviously at the time I didn’t know this is due to autism and that I’m autistic. I didn’t know anything about it at all, although the first time I’ve heard about Asperger’s syndrome was when I was in a primary school.

It is said that girls don’t get picked up early enough but the first person who I knew was diagnosed with it was a girl from my primary school, a few years younger than me, very bright, she was getting the best grades in her year, but yes, she looked like if she didn’t know what’s happening around her, never spoke to anybody during break times and she used to rock regularly. I didn’t know anything about Asperger’s at the time and to be honest neither me, nor my friends were that interested, it was enough for us to know that this sensation had a name: genius who looked like if she was severely impaired. I really do hope she’s doing ok now, got a good job, where she can use all her strenghts and is not forced to rely on her weaknesses to get by.

I also know she was diagnosed in Warsaw, our capital city, just over 100km from our village and it was possibly 7 years after my mum was told by local child psychologist I’d grow out of ‘it’. Mind you, I didn’t present as severely as that girl, probably because, although quite intelligent, I was not as bright as her, and also I spoke to other kids at school (I never was a popular kid though) so my mum never felt the need to pursue any further diagnosis. Mind you (using the same expression in two sentences in a row!) mum would never get a diagnosis for me, I was just too normal for that time. And actually, when I was in my early 20s I probably appeared like if I in fact grown out of it. I was parting, was confident and knew a lot of people. I just didn’t know how to make friends with them. They all seemed like acquaintances and nothing more. Sometimes I thought a person is my friend and then they always chose somebody else to spend time with, whenever they had a choice. I was only good for times when they had nothing better to do.

Although I used to have A Friend (don’t confuse with The Friend) who however stopped treating me well quite quickly… oh, that is a long story. I’m not sure if I should be putting it in here. Maybe one day, when I decide what details should be left out, partly to protect her identity (strange thing I still care of her enough to think about that), partly to appear at least slightly mysterious to my readers (ok, I only just came up with that reason now as giving one reason only to do something just didn’t feel like enough).

Yes, so, I wonder whether I’ll have enough things to blog about when I discuss everything from my past. This blog is about life as an autistic person so everything goes, even my parsnip muffins (mind you, I already ate all of them, which is a shame as I feel a bit peckish). Parsnip muffins are part of my life and, because I’m autistic, it’s an autistic life so parsnip muffins are part of my autistic life. Makes sense, I hope. Plus, one could think that being autistic I only eat food that I know well and that is not true! One day I need to tell you how I went to Malaysia and on my first night ordered Thai green curry because I liked the taste of Thai green curry sauce that I bought in Sainsbury’s once or twice. Mind you (again!) no one explained to me that they eat incredibly hot food in that part of the world and the Sainsbury’s sauce was our, European version of it. At other times I ordered ‘sweet and spicy chicken claws’ because I didn’t know what claws mean… well, on both occasions I ate the whole of my dinner. What helped was telling myself that I’m travelling so should be opened to all the new experiences. You see, I’m autistic, but I can do it when it makes sense to me.

It was also in Malaysia where I got my tattoo. This one that was meant to cover my self-harming scars, but the tattoo artist didn’t do very good job with it and they are still visible on the sides.

Anyway, I was speaking about food earlier on. What should I have for dinner? Russian pierogi or, possibly, baked beans with toasted potato waffles? It’s strange that I can’t eat chips but love potato waffles, isn’t it?

4 responses to “Life as a cleaner”

  1. Hi Magda,

    a lot of times British Englishers like to talk about „excess of zeal” when you used „overzealousness”.

    Ah – like being a Teaching Assistant?

    I know about that cleaner who destroyed an artwork from the Spanish Renaissance.

    And were you partying when you were younger?

    They do eat *incredibly* hot food in Malaysia….

    Waffles are waffles and chips are chips.

    What did you eventually find out claws were – did they come from a crustacean? [like crab or lobster claws?]

    „Coming here to find a husband” – ARGH!

    It’s a funny thing that there seems to be an inverse relation between focus and *not* looking like you know what’s going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, they were chicken claws, and that was in the menu, I just forgot to add the chicken word in my post. I thought claws is type of a Malaysian dish like curry 😛 tjey were absolutely tasteless unfortunately. I later also had chicken claws as a part of dim sum in Hong Kong and they were lovely, baked in honey. I’d certainly eat them again 🙂

      Like

      1. From your description, Magda, they tasted good.
        I am sorry they were tasteless.
        [and I had imagined things to add to the taste or supplement it].
        [a lot of chicken sadly is imitation chicken or otherwise not treated well].
        Thanks for remembering to add the chicken word.
        When I see chicken claws in my brain they often have a batter.
        Was this the case with the chicken claws you ate.
        Honey really does add a lot to food.
        And the dim sum in general is approachable.

        Like

        1. Those I ate in Malaysia were just plain claws in a sauce, more over they didn’t even absorb the taste of sauce and seemed like foil.
          Those from Hong-Kong, I don’t remember now very well, they were definitely covered in honey but I’m not sure if they also had batter on them or not.

          Good old times when I used to travel 🙂

          Like

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