Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Daisy reveals cure for Asperger's Syndrome

Left: Tapestry on my living room wall.

I took THIS TEST, to see if I have, ha ha, Asperger's Syndrome. I knew the score would be low, as one who is perpetually in everybody's business. ((((pauses from looking through keyhole at neighbors, to blog)))

I got a 12--lower than average, even. I was thinking: if religious and superstitious obsessions had been included, I woulda got much higher. But maybe that is the whole point? Religious obsessions are very behavior-oriented and people with Asperger's appear largely unconscious of many behaviors.

But yes, while taking the test, I came up with the CURE for Asperger's, which I am blogging here and expect to get the patent. If any shrink goes on 20/20 or 60 Minutes or NBC DATELINE with my idea, I can point to this post and sue them for shitloads of cash. (I mean it!) And I use the word CURE advisedly and ironically... that word is employed primarily for the cool blog post title. The word TREATMENT is probably more accurate, in this instance.


Yes, make them sell ON COMMI$$ION!!!! That'll do it.

I realized while doing the test, that lots of my most un-Asperger's traits have been greatly amplified by doing retail and customer-service work, since forever. I can talk about anything, with anyone. I can start up conversations with whole families who don't even speak English! And they walk away smiling at me! Yes, people, a lifetime of retail/customer service is the CURE, by doggies. Or at least, a good teacher. Good treatment.

And you see, THE MONEY, the commi$$ion, is the reward that they will understand. It is nearly as flawless a barometer as you could ever find: if you have done well, they will buy it. And see the CASH FLOW?! This is positive reinforcement. BF Skinner would be so proud of me!

The problem, of course, is that they hire people like ME to do the retail selling and the customer service ass-kissing, for a good reason. One of my ex-store-managers used to call it "the personality for retail" and would give major hell to any low-level supervisor who had unwittingly hired some taciturn type for the job: "They do not have the personality for retail!!!!!"--she would periodically scream, pointing melodramatically at the dropping sales figures. She fired people right and left, and gave that as the reason. "You do not have the personality for retail," she would scrawl on their pink slips. (One of these people said, hell no I don't! and memorably stomped out with a flourish.) When we talked too much on the job, she would shake her head and say, well, these chatterboxes are a natural result of the personality for retail. (She used to talk about it rather as a state of grace, and I felt better about myself when she said it, oddly enough.)

But what if we tried to TEACH that personality, through positive reinforcements... like, actual monetary commissions? Would that work? I think you might have to start them very young, say, as teenagers. Would they learn to read faces, see the interest that signals a desire to spend money, and concurrently, the boredom that translates as "no thanks, just looking"? Could they learn which people to zero in on, as a good salesperson does? As people who are hyper-detail-oriented, they might well learn to size up a pair of $350 designer-shoes, and then think to themselves in that retail-mercenary way: we need to wring this rich person DRY. (If they grew up poor, they might find that as delightful as I do. Robin Hood, and all like that.)

The problem is that Aspies would simply never get hired to learn these skills in the first place. (Or get fired in short order, for not having the personality for retail.) It would take time to develop. Possibly a "retail workshop" could be created; a trial setting, and then they might cross over into a real job? Could it happen?

Of course, I realize my cure/treatment depends on the survival of capitalism.

I know, there are problems with everything.


This post was inspired by fabulous Meowser, and her great post over at Shakesville--which yes, I just got around to reading. (Shiva pointed me to it, so thank you!)

Full disclosure: Meowser already sold me on this caftan, so I think she (in particular) has definite sales-potential.

Epilogue and partial disclaimer--This post is meant partly as a tongue-in-cheek critique of my job, but also meant to remind everyone there are excellent life-skills that emanate from even the "lowest" point on the economic scale.

Also, the post is meant as partly serious, to point out that the people in this world who need something the most are often not very likely to get it. For instance, the seriously-impoverished kids who could never hope for a college scholarship, but who would get the most out of it and be the most grateful for it? Many are barely literate and could never qualify, or even finish high school.

Likewise, the people who could benefit the most from my job, will not be hired for it. And that's too bad, isn't it?


lilacsigil said...

My girlfriend is, in fact, a mild Aspie with a job involving a lot of retail (she's a pharmacist and in the Australian setting that means a lot of customer contact). It's not "training", it's fucking painful and exhausting. And she's been doing this job since 1996. I can see that your post is meant to be funny, but as someone who sees the aftermath, well, it's not really that amusing.

yellowdog granny said...

i scored a 10...but im crazy about that wall's beautiful

Meowser said...

Oh, dude. I couldn't sell electricity during a blackout. Really.

Oddly enough, though, I actually did get hired to sell cars on two different occasions. (One was Saturn, which was supposed to be different from other car-dealer jobs -- it was, just not different enough.) Possibly I read "androgynous" enough for them to hire me partly due to being aspie, I don't know.

There were things about that job I really liked -- there was one demonstration we had to do where we stood on top of one of their car doors that was placed on the floor, to show how durable the plastic was. (I'm over 200 pounds, so I really impressed people by jumping up and down on that thing.)

But really, doing a "hard sell" (and isn't pretty much everything a "hard sell" now?) was just torture for me. All I could think was, "If someone was standing in front of me saying this shit to me, trying to wheedle me out of my money, I'd run."

Soft sell would be okay, if there was any such thing any more. Saturn wasn't a real "hard sell" organization (at least not when I was there), but I was expected to do something called "prospecting," where I went around telling people about our cars. OW! I mean, I would find that really annoying, personally, having someone come up to me and try to get me interested in buying this thing I wasn't in a position to buy even if I wanted it. I actually had them twist my arm to get me to do it to a friend I hadn't spoken with in a while, and gods did I suck at it so badly she refused ever to speak to me again. I suppose, having already annoyed her with my aspie tendences that I didn't know about, that that was the last straw.

(But I know you're being facetious, s'ok.)

DaisyDeadhead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DaisyDeadhead said...

Meowser, I drive a Saturn and see? You made me feel better already! :P

(Seriously though, I did have a hit and run, where the door was totally caved in, but stayed intact and attached to the car! I was amazed.)

liacsigil, believe it or not, I actually find my job painful and exhausting, too...I have had varicose vein surgery and all the rest of it.

But if it wasn't funny, I apologize.

Jill said...

Ha! Retail so didn't work. The owner of the shop used to get mildly annoyed with me because I was a little too honest about the product I was hawking, commission be damned ("No. You don't want to buy the $100 rabbit. If your muscles are really strong you'll break it in four months. Here. Try this $4 vibrating egg. It will also break in four months, but it's only $4! Have a nice day!") Besides, I kind of work off of scripts and the number of questions customers typically had were finite. Not to mention that it was an environment where not maintaining eye contact was OK because it was reasonable to look at the product instead. But I certainly didn't know I had Asperger's at the time. If it weren't for Meowser, I don't know that it would have ever occurred to me as AS wasn't a special interest and I knew very little about it until recently.

a nana moose said...

That was fun--from a 16--biologist photographer.

konnie said...

On another aspect, my take is that asperger's syndrome during the early stages should be attended and no parent should ever forget that.

ArrogantWorm said...

There's another test, that goes a bit more in depth (There's a few flaws with disability and actions/percieved senses, however, which they're trying to clear up) and I got a 43 on that one, too. I suspect a 'slightly disagree' rates the same as a 'definitely disagree', and there should be a neutral option for sometimes 'yes/sometimes no', which there was on the other test, I b'lieve. Social situations make me anxious, tired and stressful - I'm about 26, and 26 years of practice hasn't done much in the way of negating any of that. I can sell on commission, but only on request for art - that is, they usually create the subject for the finished product. Trying to hawk a preset product I'm no good at, no matter the monetary reward. Fitting In creates more of a reward when young than money, in this case, and if that didn't do it then starting young with coin certainly won't.

Anonymous said...

i have asperger's syndrome( diagnosed at age 10 but believe i had it longer) and i was wondering is there any permanent cure for aspie's syndrome. if not then WAAAAAAAHHHHHH because i don't like it one bit. it SUX!!!!!!
thanx for the USELESS info about money and shit! REALLY helps my esteem

Ben said...

My wife is an extreme aspie, who works in fashion retail selling designer shoes. How does this work you ask? Well, it has occured to me that apies are uniquely suited for this kind of work. Retail, at it's heart, is based around pretending. Pretending that you are happy, pretending that you like the person, pretending that your interested in what they do and say. Who are the best people in the world at pretending? Aspies, of course, they do it 100% of the time. Couple this with another aspie traight. Fixation on a particular area of interest. Well my wife's is fashion. People talk about having a fashion obsession, HA! They know nothing! My wife is fashion 24/7, she reads constantly, talks constantly, lives totally, fashion, fashion, fashion. And she is good, very, very good. Consistantly one of the best sellers in her company. So has the cure worked? No. She is still an aspie. Outside of the store, the obsession puts people off. She still has big troubles socially, and barley functions in regular life. So sorry, your theory doesn't quite hold up.

A little blue alien said...

I've worked in retail for 14 years, and I have Aspergers.

It's done one thing; put me in front of people I didn't know, and have to interact with them- they could be murderers, scientists, or firemen. Of course, none of them seemed to be what they might do for a living, because that's the stigma retail leaves with the cashier; it's a forced interaction, it's not personal, and it's all based on pretenses.

"Oh, you have an apron? Fetch me some cigarettes. I don't even have to say hello to you or acknowledge you exist".

While this sort of work makes you, the Aspie, "unshy", it also makes you bitter and jaded fast. I think, on the whole, the experience has been socially damaging.

So next time you have a great idea about a brain condition, how about multiplying it several times over. Discomfiture in retail only grows, and the longer someone who doesn't like to be around people they don't know has to be around people they don't know. The more time they're going to want to spend by themselves.