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Blog and Podcasts about Autism

Sensory

Shopping with Autism is not funI have never been one of those girls who loves shopping. Not only because 9 out of 10 times the music is far too loud, consisting of poor renditions of what once may have been a half way decent song and also full of people getting ridiculously too close to me with their trolleys of doom, while wearing far too much perfume and having discussions that really aren’t suited for public listening.

Today, however, was one step too far for me. Not only was I stupid, I say this figuratively, to go grocery shopping on a Saturday, which was only due to the fact it was sunny outside and I fancied some ribs, but also because there were a few necessities I couldn’t do without. I felt I had no choice but to brave it out with all the other minions at the local shop.

I rushed through as I usually do, trying to get all my items as break neck speed so as to avoid, 1) seeing anyone I know. 2) having to listen to the screaming of children at their parents for more fizzy drinks and 3) because it means I have less time having to deal with all those people being so close to me.

Having made it through in record time I thought I was going to make it out unscathed, only to realise I was going to be meeting a “boss” of an opponent at the checkout. The cashier was taking her sweet time chatting away, in the way most NT’s or Muggles, as I call them, love to do with their chit-chat of non-sense, without taking notice that I,  as well as the man in front of me, were getting rather impatient. I get that they have processes to follow, but it appeared that her snail DNA had kicked in and she was going in slow motion.

The man in front of me was not interested in her small talk, thank goodness and was happy to pay and pack up his items with a furious speed, speed I envied. Note to self: Just shove all your purchases into the bags regardless of the size and it is much quicker. Next was my turn. The lady, and I use this term loosely, said “hello,” but then followed up with a statement that I wasn’t expecting. She said, “You’re ok with your packing.” Not, “Are you ok with your packing?”.  Surely, you can see there is a clear difference? Perhaps it is the Aspie in me that took her statement literally, but I wasn’t too happy. She wasn’t asking me if I wanted help, she was telling me, what I am OK with.  Believe me I don’t like anyone telling me what I am or am not ok with, I can, luckily, speak for myself.  Now under other circumstances, I may have said, “yeah I am fine.” But her statement wasn’t asking me a question and I am sure only I know what I am ok with. So I actually said to her, “Actually I would appreciate your help packing, please.” Unfortunately, this seemed to annoy her. I mean my goodness, asking her to do part of her job appeared to be too much of a request for her, then why have that job? The annoyed look on her face said it all to me.  Nevertheless, she began to pack all the items, doing it all rather slowly.

The fact that she was packing everything rather than just some of the items gave me a chance to look at the shopping of the people who were behind me. The shopping looked rather, overly organised. They were buying 10 and 15 of several items and stacking them and lining them up neatly on the conveyor belt. Far be it from me to judge someone else, but I almost felt like they were in some way, kindred spirits, until I realised they were having a conversation with the cashier on a personal basis. Then I realised perhaps they were part of the squad to purposely make my journey to the shops even more of an annoyance that it was already at this point. Boy, I wasn’t wrong.

As the cashier slowly and begrudgingly packed my items I said, “You don’t have pack everything I can help.” Now let me just go back a little, the reason I ask for help sometimes is because I tend to feel slightly more anxious when at the checkout packing my items. This is mainly because I feel rushed, items come flying at me at an accelerated speed,  and I feel like I have to be done by the time the cashier has put everything through and I panic as I don’t want to make others wait or cause a fuss. All the while I am trying to watch the prices to ensure they aren’t trying to rip me off, which by the way has happened on many an occasion. This is why I wanted her to help me, but not do it all. Now, having made this deadly statement it became a free for all of items. It was as though we were in a drag race and she got herself off to a good start and began to scan each item as a ridiculous rate, which I was unable to keep up with.

Meanwhile, as I am was playing catch with my shopping, the two patrons behind me walked up and got into my personal space. Now I am not talking about just being on the other side of the barrier of the next till, but it was as though we were all shopping together. This as you would expect unnerved me even more, as I thought I had inadvertently, gained family members they were so close . As the scanning finished, I told the cashier, “you are going to have to help me again as I can’t catch up again”. To which she offered a small bit of useless assistance.

Having now been given the total, I told the people behind me, “Please could you move you are in my space”. Unfortunately they moved all of 2 centimetres, which only made me more aggravated. It felt like I was being invaded. It is like having someone looking over your shoulder to the point of feeling their breath on your neck as you are trying to get cash out of an ATM. It is just rude, invasive and most of all unnecessary.  I said for a second time, “please can you move you’re still in my space!” They moved half a centimetre and I finished paying and saw the cashier give me her false smile and say goodbye.

The people with their 10 bottles of Anti-dandruff shampoo and 15 bottles of vinegar seemed finally happy I was leaving, but I can assure you no one was happier than I to leave such a hostile environment. I think online shopping is looking more and more appealing by the incident.