(Marie’s note: turning the blog over to my husband for a guest rant on one aspect of his life with Aspergers!)
It probably looks dumb, how I walk. Normal step, normal step, BIG step, normal step, little step, little step, normal step… Do you pay attention to what you’re walking on? Do you care what the color is, what the texture is, what the height is? I do, but I don’t think most people do.
I don’t exactly subscribe to the “step on a crack, break your Momma’s back” theory, but I don’t like stepping on them. You know how it feels when you have a little pebble stuck in your shoe, right? Picture that, every time I take an off step. It doesn’t go away until I can balance it out, by doing something similar but to the other foot. Sometimes it take a few offset steps to undo the original off step.
I don’t know if I’m explaining it right, I don’t know if this make sense. I seem to see things that others don’t notice, I seem to care about them and they don’t.
At work they closed the entrance that I normally use, the one I like. They’re doing construction in that area. The entrance I now use is not optimal, here are a few pics.
That probably doesn’t look so bad to you, but to me it’s really annoying. It won’t kill me, it’s just frustrating. There are cement panels that are darker than others, there are these weird metal strips too. I think they’re for traction, they’re at the edge of the little service road. What I tend to do is alter my step pattern to try to avoid the odd parts. I step over the weird metal strip, I take a big step across the darker cement panels, and I try to avoid the cracks as reasonable. It’s more important to me to avoid the metal strips than the cracks. An alternate way to walk is to step on the dark panels, but slow down my pace such that I step on it with both my left and right feet, so it’s even.
I’m pretty sure it looks dumb, sometimes I’ll sort of throw people off to avoid discussion. Let’s say someone I know is walking toward me, I might look off to the side as I do my funny walk. It’s amazing, when you look off to somewhere unexpected, people will always look over also, to see if there’s something interesting. If I’m with a group of people, it’s usually easiest to slow my steps way down, so my left and right step are even, and just take faster steps. That way they don’t see my big long steps and wonder what the hell I’m doing.
A situation like the front of the building is annoying, but it’s not so bad. The hallways at work are annoying too, but luckily the color range is pretty close, so I can look up and pretty much ignore the texture. I still have to walk in a straight line, in one “row” of the floor tiles.
Some hallways have these odd stripes, which I alter my step pattern to avoid stepping on.
Now for the definition of hell.
Where do I begin?
A few months ago they changed the floor carpet tiles in the cafeteria. To this crap. Someone must have gotten a hell of a deal on some clearance shit, this stuff is horrid. It’s horrid in every way. I’m no design expert, nobody would ever pay me to redecorate their house, but even *I* would never choose this crap.
Design aside, it’s horrible to walk on. So many differences, there’s no way to even things out. Three versus four stripes, color versus black/white, and obviously, orientation of the stripes. I am forced to play hopscotch to walk across the floor. I can avoid the cafeteria, no problem. The problem is there’s a conference room on the other end. It’s not used very often, except for updates to management. Great, so I’m freaking out trying to walk across the floor so I can get to a management meeting. Great.
When they first put this carpet in, I actually told my boss I couldn’t do it and asked him to give my portion of the update. He was actually quite cool about it.
Luckily, they re-re-did a portion of the carpeting (I have no idea why) to a solid gray, which provides me an easier path to the conference room. Now I can walk on the gray tiles and I only have to take a step or two on the horrible carpet until I get to the tile of the food-serving area. I can walk on the edge of that over to the conference room, and it’s only another step on the horrible crap. Oh wait, there’s actually another conference room in that area (rarely used), which has the horrible carpet IN IT. I was in a meeting there recently, managed to walk in far enough to take the closest available seat, and then put my feet up on the table supports so I didn’t have to have my feet on the floor. Seriously, I didn’t even want my feet on it.
A few days ago, Marie sends me an image of a hallway she was at, I laughed and choked as I saw it. Here it is, take a look.
Oh. My. F. S. M.
There is a path, but if it were crowded it would be tough. I’d have to follow the path, of course. Even then, it would be as walking along a narrow path in a cave, where the walls were sharp jagged rocks waiting for one mis-step.
The part that I’m unable to properly convey is *why* this is such an issue for me. I don’t know how to explain it. Let’s say you walk in thick, heavy mud, but for only one step. The next ten or twenty steps that one shoe is heavy, slips, and is generally gross. As you walk along, you’d sort of try to smear the mud off on the sidewalk, try to get it back to normal, right? That’s how I feel with the mis-step. You know how they put those rugs near the entrance of a store, to soak up the water from your shoes? If I happen to walk on it wrong – let’s say two steps on it with my left foot, but only one step on my right – then my right shoe feels wrong, just like the mud. I’m forced to make it even. I can’t smear it off, so I have to do other things. Maybe there’s a big rubber transition between tile and carpet. Perfect! I’ll step on it with my right foot, and maybe I’ll even smear my foot on it a big, accentuating the difference. Hopefully that was enough. No? Ok, so maybe it still feels a bit off. Oh look, the tile pattern is 90% white tiles with brown tiles strewn randomly across it. Ok, so I’ll step on a brown tile with my right foot, maybe do this a couple times. Finally it gets evened out.
Whew, now I can relax…until the next obstacle.