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Singled Out

By Spinning Compass · Apr 6, 2011 · ·
  1. One of the things that many of us have problems with is being singled out. It seems we are never singled out for anything good; it is always something bad, like reprimands. To this day I inwardly cringe when someone (especially a supervisor) says, "I want to talk with you a moment."

    Yet this is something we need to learn to deal with, because while being singled out may diminish in time, it never really goes away, and can crop up at the most unexpected times. And you just have to accept it. Yes, this goes deeply against the grain of our Aspie sense of justice and fair play, but there is very little one can do about it. The deck is stacked against us. Maybe some day that will change but for now, this is reality.

    There are two instances of being singled out in the workplace that still grates on me even though it has been several years and in some cases the people involved are no longer there. But the damage they did in terms of trust is.

    The first concerned overtime. Although it was never formally stated that we had to work a certain number of hours overtime, the unwritten, unspoken expectation was that we were to practically devote our lives to the company. Now I like my job but not so much that I want to be there 24/7; so I learned to be efficient and get my work done within the stated set hours. That was not good enough. One day I got called into the office and told I was not putting in enough overtime. At the time, if I recall, I was working 9-10 hours a day. My supervisor told me, why is it that you are putting in only 5 hours of overtime a week and Anna (not her real name) is putting in 80? My jaw dropped at this. I am not good at math, but I do know that for Anna to be putting in 80 hours a week she would have to be practically living there. As it was, apparently everyone but the supervisor was aware that Anna would waltz into the office around 9-9:30 in the morning, and blithely get up and leave about 3:30 in the afternoon, every single day, and there was at least one occasion when I and another coworker blatantly caught her in a lie about coming in on a Saturday, when we both knew that she hadn't been there. But--and this is very important--when you are in a situation when you are being called on the carpet the worst thing you can do is try to deflect attention on to someone else, even if it is justified. Because then you have just opened the door for a more intense attack upon yourself. So I said nothing. It took the company FIVE years to figure out that Anna was deceiving them. Yes, that is right, five years. I am going to tell you right now, authority figures are not always the smartest bunnies in the world, but they have authority and you don't so you have to put up with them. And, by chance, you are a supervisor or manager reading this, let me remind you that the first law among employees is THOU SHALT NOT SNITCH no matter what the offense. Do not rely on your employees to tell you what is going on. They won't, not unless they are pretty blind socially like I was in my early days. There are pretty harsh penalties for those who snitch, and they will all be carried out when the supervisor isn't looking and in ways the supervisor can't detect. One of them is sabotaging work. Yes, someone tried that on me. They didn't succeed and they never tried that particular trick again, because I was wise to their ways.

    The second was when I got called into the supervisor's office for going around socializing instead of working. Now if you know me, if you know anything about us people with Aspergers, socializing is not what we do. Right? What prompted the complaint was that I was away from my desk for about an hour. The reason I was away from my desk for so long was I had a backlog of documents that I had to hand-deliver to various parts of the building. At that time the building where I worked was longer horizontally than the former World Trade Centers were tall (it has since expanded to about 3 times the size), so delivering these papers to all of their destinations took time. Nor was it a job I could delegate to someone else due to the nature of these papers. I tried to explain to her that that was what I was doing. She would have none of it. "I have received a complaint that you were out socializing, and that is not fair when I just reduced your workload because you said you were overloaded." "Who complained?" I asked. She gave a little smile. "I cannot tell you." "I have a right to confront my accuser," I told her. "If you know anything about me, you know that most of the time I don't even take breaks." She would not tell me. Meanwhile, again, every day, all day, I had to listen to her friend plan her elaborate wedding and social life on the phone. I said something to another co-worker that I trusted about what I had been accused of, and she said "What? You?"

    I do believe, based on my own personal experience and based on what I saw her do to others, that she was prejudiced against anyone she perceived as not being normal or fit in. Her friend that she favored came from a well-to-do background and had connections--and it paid off. She left the company for a rather cushy job overseas thanks to her favorite. As for her discrimination, there was nothing I or anyone else could do about it, because I could not prove it was because of Aspergers. Officially I don't have it, you see. Officially I am normal, so I am not protected. There was another woman I worked with who may also have had Aspergers; this supervisor took advantage of her to play a dirty trick on her and then got her fired for violating the rules.

    What I am saying is these things happen and there isn't much you can do about them. Sometimes all you can do is walk away. No, it isn't fair, but I have learned that you can waste endless energy on "fair" and still not win.

Comments

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  1. AnneTheEmpress
    I was a medical assistant and also did x-rays. I got fired recently because I wasn't social enough for the office gossip and for me to do my job, hers had to get done first.. it's one of those things. It took longer for me to get my job done because she stopped doing hers knowing that I would have to step up and do it so that I could do mine. They waited for me to finish on a monday, and then after I had washed the bosses dishes because that was also expected of me... fired me on the spot. No warning whatsoever. No explanation.. I then had to hand over my keys and leave. They expected to throw it on me like that and then I had to DRIVE home. The funny thing was that even though I did both of our jobs, I still managed to meet patients as they came in the door to check in and take them back. I had developed an elaborate system and maximized my time, and worked through half of my lunch breaks to get ahead. Guess it wasn't enough because I wasn't chatty.
    Oh well.. I hated it anyway. I was so stressed out that I wouldn't speak for the rest of the day after I got off work.