Sometimes a work colleague will stop what they’re doing and say “You CANT say that Patrick!” and be rewarded with one of two things. Occasionally, if feeling in a generous mood I will both look puzzled and ask “Why not ?”.
I can’t help it. My brain thinks one thing and sometimes my mouth just goes along with it or dies the complete opposite!. I find words tumbling out of my mouth before I’ve actually thought about them properly. It’s just a reaction to something said or done and, if deemed “shocking” enough, gets the stated reaction.
But I don’t get it.
To me you say what you see. Actually I think that was “Catchphrase” catchphrase but I’m sure you know what I mean. There’s an compulsion to let the words out and no amount of my brain umming and erring about it, if they want to come out then they will.
I couldn’t be a diplomatic because I’m not diplomatic. I once told a senior member of the judiciary to pull his “f**king finger out and get on with it” whilst clerking for him. His response, “My clerk thinks I should get on with things” was both restrained and apt. But that’s just one example.
I’ve told smokers they stink or smell like ashtrays, I’ve called people cretins and morons, I’ve got loud and called people in the office bloody idiots or told them I don’t like them making me look like a twat!.
But I don’t mean it. My mouth opens and, before I’ve had a chance to actually form the words, out they come. Oops!
On the phone, in the unsettling unpredictability of my job, I’ve lost it with people on the phone. My tone changes and I feel the words coming. I bite them back as often as I am able but it can be a struggle so the occasional “How many times do I have to tell you ?” Or “Look, this is the sixth time I’ve been through this” comes out, bringing frowns (or is that wind?) from colleagues and the senior manager, sitting some feet from me, will interject with a sharp, “Patrick!. You can’t talk to people like that!” Or I’ll get “the visit” where she will come slowly across to my desk for “the quiet word in the ear”. Neither of which I appreciate as my one wish, at that moment is to turn to her and say “Just keep your nose out will you, you daft old bat!. You aren’t dealing with the idiots I’m dealing with!”.
But the tongue gets firmly bitten.
I get quite a few warnings about my behaviour. It’s not a physical act people worry about but what was once (okay, several times) called my acerbic wit, my cutting cynicism, my brutal dissection of others.
I think that means I let my gob run away with itself.
Actually I think I’m pretty tolerant. I don’t go out of my way to be malicious or rude, I don’t seek confrontation but just sometimes I want to cut through the verbiage and get my point across. I want to get to the point, cut short the call (to me the more drawn out they are the more painful I find them and the harder they are to concentrate on) and, because I’m Autistic, I don’t want people to tell me something in twenty words when five will do.
I want clarity, brevity and not something that I need a dictionary to understand. I don’t want lectures or pedantic discussion, I just want to know A, B and C.
Is that too much to ask ?.
And so I speak plainly. I cut through the flim-flam, I get to the point.
I try to do so kindly. I prefer the disarming use of humour, even if it’s caustic humour with a hard edge, to downright rudeness. I rarely swear and try not to resort to name calling or cheap insults unless truly deserved but I want to get on and the longer people talk then the less I take in and the more confused I get. Think of it as me protecting myself rather than me being rude or blunt.
I struggle with verbal instruction particularly if long winded. Keep it simple folks. I’m not stupid (okay, there will be a vote on that later) but bullet points are better than War and Peace!.
And so, if I say “What are you on about ?. I didn’t get a single word of that. Can you try it again and this time use plain English ?”, I’m not being rude but, to me, eminently practical.
So, if I’ve ever upset you by my bluntness, rest assured that it is rarely intentional. I’m not diplomatic or cautious in my language because I need to process or understand and, if I go through a lot of pleasantries, or let you gabble on, I’m simply going to forget what you’ve said or lose interest or get confused, possibly all three.
It doesn’t mean I don’t like you.
So, may I speak plainly ?.