An Emergency Double Post, Or, Sometimes Nothing Is Better Than Something

In a blizzard, internet access can be limited for a number of reasons. So it’s important to stock up on essential supplies like Tylenol, blankets, batteries and extra blog posts.

Last week, I audited an American Literature course at the invitation of the professor teaching it. I outlined my reasons for not wanting to go again in this post, but after careful consideration I have decided to follow through and audit another class for as long as she will allow me to do so.

The first reason is obvious. Even auditing a class generally costs money. So even if American Literature is not my first choice of classes, how stupid would I have to be to turn down the opportunity to sit in on the class for free in the school I desperately wanted to attend over ten years ago.

Secondly, I don’t need to actually do any of the classwork or the tests. I can simply absorb the knowledge through osmosis and in the process, maybe make a few solid contacts among the students who are there and might share the same goals I have. I know the mistakes I made in the past in regards to social interaction and while I’m far from finished making new ones, I can at least build on experience and maybe even just offer a physical body in the room to bounce ideas off of.

Today, I got up early and did a few chores. The professor, hereto referred as Ivy for my fellow Pokémon fans, called to let John know that classes would be on as always. Since the original invitation was to myself and John, this was particularly thoughtful.

“It’s going to be in the McMurdo building,” John called down, when he got off the phone in his bedroom.

I paused. Where was McMurdo building?

“Is that in the same part of the campus?” I asked. “Because there are other parts of the campus spread out and I just want to make sure I get there on time.”

John proceeded to give me directions to the room that we went to last week and I had to resist the urge to face palm. I would have gone straight there anyway, but when he told me the name of the building, I had thought the class was moved to another building and if I hadn’t asked before leaving the house, there would have been an entire day devoted to finding this mysterious facility.

In this case the confusion was minor. John was just making sure I knew where to go and everyone needs a reminder now and again. But it might have been more helpful if he asked me whether or not I remembered where the building was before proceeding to tell me where it was.

An example of a time when very similar confusion led to disaster happened on two separate occasions in my life and both in relation to a sheet of math problems. The first of these instances was in the sixth grade and the second happened during my first and only year of college at Lyndon State.

Because they’re so similar, I don’t feel the need to differentiate too much or to explain what went wrong. Essentially, I had a sheet of math problems that I had made some mistakes on. I was given the chance to redo the problems, but I didn’t want to make a huge mess on the worksheet, so I began to copy the problems onto a separate sheet of paper so I could work on them this way.

The two separate teachers in two separate classes, separated by almost six and a half years, were confused by my actions. But instead of asking me what I was doing, said something very similar in both instances. “It’s all the same.”

I got confused both times, which is understandable because these two events happened so far apart and I have not encountered this confusion before or since either incident occurred. I thought they meant that there was no point in redoing the problems, so I handed the sheet back in. Instead of trying to clarify my obvious confusion by their statements, both teachers snapped at me and took that as my refusal to correct the problem and they graded me accordingly. All because of their assumption, which would not have been a problem if they hadn’t caused confusion in the first place.

What I’m trying to get at is that sometimes you may see someone and think to yourself, “I must say something.”

I’m guilty of this as well. When I was at the pizza party for the Autism Asperger’s Network, I found another “reveler” wandering in the hall way, glancing in rooms. Thinking he was looking for the bathrooms, I presumed to tell him where the bathrooms were, only to receive a well deserved glare from the individual and a declaration that he knew where they were and that he was not looking for them.

A safe mantra to remember is that sometimes, Nothing Is Better Than Something. This is useful in any situation where you think you might have to offer someone advice, whether or not they have asked for it. Failing that, there is a simple way to avoid confusion like this in any situation.

“Why excuse me good sir or madam, might you explain yourself to me that I may be informed as to whether or not my assistance is required?”

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