One of the women who worked there was higher up on the ladder, more compromised, deeper into the schizophrenia spectrum than I am. My diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder. While not exactly mild, it is more treatable and responsive to psych meds with a much better prognosis for a "normal" life than people as bad off as this woman. This woman is said to have schizophrenia. The first noteworthy thing she did on her first day was stop a black male employee as he walked by and ask him to please stop staring at her, which he was not doing and had not done.
The other woman was what is now termed intellectually disabled; the preferred term for what used to be called mentally retarded. Mentally retarded is no longer considered acceptable because of its denigration into retard. Intellectually disabled it is then.
She had some cerebral palsy as well, I guess. She walked with a limp and one arm crooked off her side. The first Friday she said "hi' to me with a big smile, wide eyed, overbite. The whole nine yards, right? She looked to be about forty-two, I don't know.
She never tried to talk to me or anyone else that I could see. Just kept to herself mostly. I could rely on her saying hi whenever she wasn't bent over a box or whatever pulling stuff out, once every Friday.
At Christmastime we had a gift exchange deal where we wrote down what we wanted as long as it cost less than five or ten dollars or so. Then everybody drew names and got the person they drew the gift they requested to give to them at the Christmas party. I thought for a second about what I could possibly want for less than ten dollars and, smartass that I am, wrote down cigarettes.
The Christmas party came, we had it at a restaurant, the girl to whom I was supposed to give my gift to had quit already after working there only a few weeks, which was just as well because I had bought her a ten dollar gift certificate to the CD store across Airport from my apartment instead of the scented array of little soaps that she'd requested.
I'm sitting at one of the big tables when a gift bag appears before me, I look inside this nice little paper gift bag, and there are two packs of Marlboro Reds under some nice pastel colored tissue paper and plastic tinsel. Not bad, I didn't specify my brand, but a good guess. Not my brand, but not menthols or ultralights or anything like that either.
I turn around to see my secret Santa is, and it's this intellectually disabled woman, and she walks off as I say "thank you" and I guess she's pretty shy, okay?
The next notable interaction with her is one that I will never, ever, ever forget for the rest of my fucking days, ever. It's Friday, she's in back doing her job. I walk by and as she looks at me I affect a real stupid, goofy grin, wide-eyed, wave at her like a small child, you know, I'm making fun of her, right?
Instantaneously, her smile disappears. I look into her eyes, which I'd never noticed were a blue-gray color like the color of gun metal, steel, whatever. Not just her eye color, but her eyes into the very core of her being, telepathically, instantaneously, reflexively telling me, "Fuck you in the heart, asshole!" with every inch of her being and I'm past her and it's over.
I get it. I fucking get it right away. Most of us only experience intellectually disabled people like her in middle school or whatnot, when they're still kids and they get mobbed by boys who bully them, tease them, and fuck with them nonstop and they'll cry or maybe lash out and it's like that for them at that age.
But intellectually disabled, or more accurately retarded, means slow. It does not mean that they are incapable of learning, or growing, or developing. They just take a longer time.
By the time someone like this woman has reached her age, she has seen it all. She has been subjected to this treatment and attitude all the time, all of her life, over and over and over again. She can smell it, she can feel it, she can see it coming from a mile away. There's probably been nothing new under the sun of this kind of shit by this time in her life for quite some time.
It just comes with the territory. She can't even work a menial job one day a week, keep to herself, not bother anybody, nothing. Just appear vulnerable to being hurt by some assclown such as myself who seems to think he's the first person in her life clever enough to try and bust this kind of move on her. She knows it is her job to be the adult in these situations and let people like me know that it's not as simple as that.
The next week I walk by her by her and she has her chest a little puffed our and she stands a little straighter, and she smiles the same goofy overbite smile, and and the same wide eyes and, as usual, says "hi" to me really friendly and, for my part, however I am to her, there is no way any thought about trying that again. Zen master efficiency.
As far as my deal with women goes, I am more like her than like normal people. In most other ways I am more like her than like normal people. An intellectually disabled advocate for his people wrote a short column for a newspaper or online publication, I don't remember. He said the biggest problem he and others like him face is the loneliness and lack of human interaction and contact the rest of the world relegates them to. The rest of the world regards his people as having nothing to offer them in the way of friendship. Where have I heard that before? These women at this business I talk about vie for love interest status with me so they can just turn around and drive home the point that I have nothing to offer them that they could possibly want. By the time this started going on at this place, unlike previous businesses, I had shut down my end and can't be credibly made to believe that I somehow brought this treatment by them on myself as had been the kind of thing I could maybe be made to believe at least to some degree in my earlier days.
For quite some time, since the age of twenty, really, these kind of women have tried to impress upon me that whatever the nature of my offense, transgression, what mistake I'd made, big or little, whatever the affront, whatever level of threat they perceived me to be towards them, that the punishment was to always try to break my fucking heart. Major or minor, they always want to go there, always. By the time it got around to the employees at this particular business, I had shut down my end of it the best of my ability, and still, they wanted to go there. So it was what it really was all about all along. It wasn't that I had really ever done anything to deserve to be treated this way, it was that all these women from the time I was in college to what, oh it's April, so last month, really wanted to break my heart because they perceived me to be vulnerable to being hurt this way, and that they could get away with it. All of them, that is all that it was ever really all about, ever.
By the first time a shot was fired across my bow at this business, that I won't mention the name of, it was as if to announce, "Here, it's on here now. A place you'd never expect, because never once in all the years you've come here did you ever even consider trying to get with a female employee here. It's here now, deal with it." And so I have. Over and over and over and over. Again and again and again and again.
I have a role model. A role model who really impressed upon me that the second I tried to bust that kind of move on her, I was in her world from then on, forever.
She kept to herself and didn't try to talk to anyone or make friends? Maybe she's doing that on purpose. What's the use of her trying to make friends if no one thinks she has anything to offer? She has to wait for her moment to do her thing, before someone like me or anyone else will even think that she has anything to bring to the table.
Some people will never get it, maybe enough do that it is actually worth it. Seeing as how she was offered absolutely no other choice to be any other way that those around her would consider more acceptable, I'd say she probably does alright. It's her world after I tried that shit on her, all of a sudden it's more about if someone like her feels that someone like me has something to offer her that she may actually value, than the other way around.