So much happening in April. Autism Awareness Month, World Autism Day on 2 April, as well as Adopt a Greyhound Month, to name just a few. Today is World Stray Animals Day. When I first arrived in Sydney, I blogged about this day from the perspective of a ‘human stray’ in search of a ‘home.’ This year, I have learned a very sombre lesson about ‘human strays.’
There were two people that I invited into my home to live. One turned out to be a wonderful housemate and a good friend. The other revealed herself as the ultimate housemate from hell. Neither of them were paying housemates. The first one contributed by doing simple things for me, cleaning the garden, sowing the grass seeds and taking care of the growing lawn, moving furniture, washing the toilet and bathroom, generally keeping the house neat, sharing food with me, and just being good company. Unfortunately, he left far sooner than I’d hoped. I missed him a great deal. The other one gave me some money at the beginning, though not enough to constitute a balanced share of the rent and utilities, and bought raw meats for the dogs (two of which were hers), which often went off if I didn’t make an effort to watch and store it properly, and enshrouded my home in filth, mess and horrible noise from her constant expletives and her screeching bird. This housemate from hell was supposed to stay for only two and a half weeks, but she ended up staying for more than three months and boldly making off with my property under my very nose, then sending me vicious accusatory emails and even roping in her lackey to harass me. No, she never paid me.
On hindsight, I should have listened to my innate senses. The first housemate was someone I got to know and interact with over a period of time. We were neighbours in the same apartment building. He came to my art exhibition. I visited his home and I could see how lovely and clean he kept it. He helped me to move out from my apartment. He helped me with a great deal of chores when I moved into the new home. I knew him to be a good person, and someone I liked and could get along with. When he moved in, there were adjustments to be made, of course, but it was a smooth and pleasant transition, and he never made any personal or spatial demands on me. The contrast is clear now, but I didn’t see it then. The second person, the nightmare from hell, was someone I didn’t even like. She came across as crass to me, but I shoved that feeling of repulsion away, telling myself I must not be prejudiced. I didn’t like the way she dragged her little dogs around and they looked scruffy and unkempt, but I again told myself not to be so critical. She was emotionally dramatic, and I recoil from such people, but I felt sorry for her based only on her tearful display of effusive emotion in public. That was my biggest mistake. Picking up an unknown stray human, and one that my senses recoiled from, just because I felt pity for her. I feel sorry for the one greatest casualty in this mistaken act of charity. Panda, the Greyhound. She was not technically a ‘stray’ but she was a reject in so many ways, and I foolishly allowed this person to adopt her, which resulted in Panda losing a leg. The most terrible consequence of my picking up this stray human animal.
It is risky enough for autistic people to function in the wider world, without innate ability to ‘read’ neurotypical mindsets within a neurotypical social context. It can be dangerous and disastrous if an autistic person decides to pick up ‘stray humans’ and bring them into the sanctuary of our own homes.
Henceforth, I shall refrain from picking up stray human animals, and stick to only four legged furry strays. They deserve so much more than the human variety!