Something that really bothers me a lot, even though I know that I should merely shrug it off as “just one of those things” about life in the Grand Circus, is how people just drop off without explanation in the midst of an email conversation. I am not talking about the dozens of job applications that receive no reply, I am referring to actual communications which just suddenly cease.
I was exchanging emails with someone about the possibility of an event involving a third party. This was in a professional capacity. She expressed interest and even offered some information and suggestions, and so I introduced into our negotiations the person who was going to be part of the intended event. Then, no more reply. Not even an acknowledgement of the introduction. Well, yes, one month later, it is of course obvious now that she is not interested, but she could at least have sent us some excuse to let us know the plans were not going to go ahead. I am quite disgusted, she did not even bother to acknowledge the introduction. Most unprofessional, and yet, I am told this is how much of the world at large operates.
In another recent incident, someone sent me an email asking to meet up for coffee. I replied on the same day, but heard nothing more from her.
On both occasions, I sent a follow up email, just in case they failed to received my first one. In both cases, I am left wondering, what would it cost them to reply with a quick note of some excuse or other, whether true or made up, to properly end the conversation?
The problem I find with teaching a literal minded autistic person about the ‘polite’ social norms of the neurotypical world, is not that we fail to learn the rules and regulations, but that we become immensely disturbed when, after we have painstakingly learned and mastered every detail, we then discover that most neurotypicals do not bother to adhere to these constructs anyway, and the actual reality is that there really are no rules to follow at all. Why bother then? I honestly don’t know. I am discombobulated. A thorn in my flesh. I guess there are people who are just plain rude, and there is nothing more to read into their actions than the fact that they just cannot be bothered to do the polite thing?
Lack of resolution creates unsettledness in me. Like the time when I discovered cigarette ash on my balcony, and I could not find out who had done the deed. Ours is a no-smoking building, and the manager would have taken action if I could identify the source of this annoyance. I still smell the people smoking every evening, but I am as yet unable to identify the culprits. Grrr!!!
Perhaps learning the ‘right’ ways to navigate the social world at large, and how to behave etc, does help me to identify the people I can respect and relate with, regardless of neurological culture (whether autist or neurotypical), and weed out those with whom it will be impossible to form positive associations? Indeed, the stark contrast makes me grateful that the people who actually do matter in my life – whether personally or professionally, autistic or neurotypical – are not the kind who will leave me hanging in mid-air. Closure is important. Did you know about the story that when Amadeus Mozart was a child, one of the punishments meted out by his father was to play a passage of music without a cadence? The lack of resolution tortured the young child. Whether true or myth, it is a cruel thing indeed.