Autism: At the Coffee Shop

27 Feb

The gift card had been in my wallet for a couple of years. It isn’t that I don’t like going there, I just don’t go there. I think about it. I consider it. I have wanted to at various times. I just didn’t go.

Out of the way. Hard to get in to. Always busy. Expensive. There are lots of reasons not to go, but I had a gift card, and besides… they are tasty!

I know that many other people go daily, even several times a day, and couldn’t imagine holding onto a $15 gift card for two years. But then, that made the treat so much better.

I had an appointment, and appointments always make me anxious. Following the appointment, there were errands to run. Mostly I hate running errands. I don’t like being out in public, plus, just getting there, I am subject to motion sickness.


So as a treat, my husband suggested we go to the coffee shop. Like I said, we don’t go – either of us. But it was a promotional time, and I did have the gift card. So he pulled into the parking lot, which was so busy, there was nowhere to park. He drove out onto the street, hoping the meter reader wouldn’t come by while we were in. Busy.

Since we hardly ever go, I really didn’t know what I would order. Mostly it was about prices and sizes. I don’t drink coffee – it hurts my stomach. For some reason, though, I can usually handle cappuccino. However, that is much more expensive, and has a lot of sugar. Hot chocolate was also a possibility. But when I tried to look at their menu, there was a glare on the screen, and I couldn’t read them.

I didn’t know what to do. The cashier seemed to expect us to know what we were getting right away – most people do, I guess. But no matter how long I looked at it, I couldn’t read the screen. Not until my husband suggested that I get out of line (he would wait) and I could look. It was still hard, and he was already trying to pay – wait, you can’t pay. I haven’t ordered yet! He does that sometimes. It strongly increases my anxiety – and I don’t understand it anyway. It isn’t like he had his own cards, or that we don’t pay from a joint account.

Anyway, I found out what I wanted, ordered, and paid for it at the same time as my husband. As I started to calm down, and anticipate my cappuccino (with extra whip cream – I mean, we really don’t get there, and it was a gift card. Why not?) a loud beeping started in the kitchen. Loud! I don’t understand why everyone else just went on with what they were doing, as I ducked, and covered my ears.

It isn’t like I wanted to stand out, but it was so loud! How could I respond any other way? The beeps hurt, and the only way to endure was to cover my ears like a small child.

We sat at a table in the corner, where I took off the lid to allow my drink to cool. Beside me the men were talking. I wasn’t trying to listen, and really, I have no idea what they were talking about, so it couldn’t really be eavesdropping – but I do know that every couple of words was a swear word, and I cringed. I couldn’t help it. I know they weren’t swearing at me, but the words…

My son says that I am too sensitive, and that everyone talks like that. Thankfully, he has never sworn at, or around me – but he does laugh at my reactions when he is playing his games around me.

But for me, the words hurt. They don’t have to be directed at me. They don’t even have to be said in anger. It is just that… I am so visual. Every time the word is said, a picture comes into my mind, and it is not pleasant. In fact, it is very offensive. And while I am not upset at the people for having their conversation that had nothing to do with me, it does hurt, and so I cringe, and I know they noticed. Again, what can I do?

Well, my husband had finished his drink, and some parking spots opened up in the lot, so went to move the van (since I was worried.) And then I drank. And it was really good.


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3 responses to “Autism: At the Coffee Shop

  1. threekidsandi

    February 27, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Mine is still in my wallet. I know exactly how it was for you, because it is that way for me, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kazst

    February 29, 2016 at 9:53 am

    I take a long time to read and process menus before ordering too. It has often amazed me that the clerks expect people to know what they want right away, and that most people do seem to know right away.

    At least with chain places, I can look up their menu online and decide on something ahead of time. But then sometimes the websites aren’t kept updated and the menus don’t match what they have in store, and then I get even more flustered.

    Liked by 1 person


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