Friday, December 11, 2015

Autism Answer: Crazy Driver

That woman driving crazy and all wrong on the road? That was me. Sorry about that!

I've never had a "road rage" issue. I find it simple to understand and forgive
Me driving.
mistakes of other driver's and different-than-me style driving on the road. Really simple! After all, my mom drove with eight of us crazy kids all the time, having to make strange choices born out of listening to screams of fear from my youngest brother if we ever had to turn around, or God Forbid, drive on the "poo highway." Choices born out of mom's overwhelming belief that employing a few strange maneuvers and cutting a few corners (or driving on a few shoulders in traffic) if carefully and masterfully employed was understandable for a single mom of eight sensory challenged kids desperate to get home. 

Anyway, I'm easily comfortable understanding people who make mistakes. Because, well, I like to be understood when I make mistakes!

However, the Universe (once again!) proved that it knows me a little better than I know myself. It seems I've fallen into the habit of feeling a little bit "better than" when comfortably forgiving drivers who make mistakes. Not because I don't make mistakes, but because I feel like I'm nicer than the drivers who yell and swear and complain. Oops!

The Universe was having none of that! So, she decided to put me in the position to make so many mistakes that I would remember my kindness was not better than, but instead plain and simply human and correct. 

THE SET UP: I've got a check on the seat beside me and I'm heading to downtown Los Angeles to make an important and time sensitive payment. In my sister's car, with no knowledge of the city and no understanding of how to use the navigation on my phone, I'm following the directions I've written down, making my way slowly through traffic. I just might make it! 

THE PROBLEM: Driving in desperate circles I see that the address on the check does not exist! The roads and interstates and crowds are wild and unpredictable, I'm constantly rolling down my window to beg my way five or six lanes over only to beg my way back again. I back up when backing up isn't an option, I feel unsure of my own adult-ness. I mean, I'm a grown up. I know how to find an address! Finally I park at a meter and run wild and weird down the street, falling on my face and breaking my phone. Frightfully I make sure the check is okay, and it is, but I still can't find the place where I will trade it for a permit. A permit that we need before the office closes (in twenty minutes) so we can legally take our pictures in the morning. A permit that my producer sister must have (and has been trying to get from them for over a week!) by tonight. Finally, with plenty of thoughtful folks shrugging and apologizing and pointing me in possible directions, I find a guard for the building that should be at the address. She informs me that I'm right, this address isn't possible to drive to. But, also, I'm wrong, the permit office isn't here. Apparently, I need to get to Hollywood in fifteen minutes during traffic. Okie, dokie! Here I go..... 

THE RESOLUTION: With help from my sister I figure out how to use the navigation in her car, with help from the folks at the permit office I get them to kindly wait for me a few minutes after closing, which means they have to keep an elevator operator informed of my impending disheveled arrival so that he can let me get to the twelfth floor. I make it, I trade check for permit, and I race down to the car which I'm pretty sure I parked legally but at this point I just don't know things anymore. The car is fine, my phone is cracked and quirky but I can make calls, and my driving has been a mess. Just for good measure, I turn the wrong way down a one way street on my way back to my sister with permit in hand. Why not? I've never done that one before.

BONUS SCENE: The next morning, when several officials stop by to ask the producer to produce her permits, I feel proud and useful. Those permits are on set partly because I had been willing to drive like a nutter and ask for help and let the Universe remind me that I'm not being "better than" other drivers by being nice, I'm being correct. 

You just never know what's going on behind the scenes in the seemingly strange, weird, or wrong twists and turns another person chooses to take. Sometimes they don't even know! But always, always, always, we can be kind and helpful. Often times it's nice to give a quick honk of your horn, say "Hey there! Don't smash me, I'm here too!" and a frazzled mom or production assistant may want to kiss you for it. But honk your horn to yell? Ummmm.... who does that help? 

So, if you saw me making crazy turns and silly stops in Los Angeles the other day (and many people did!) I thank you for laughing with me, and not yelling or angrily honking at me. I did end up where I wanted to end up, and we had a grand adventure along the way!

And I remembered that I'm not "better than" when I'm friendly and forgiving, I'm just right. 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)