There it was almost visual. I felt it as she approached, and I said the learned, "Hello. How are you today?" and she answered in the well arranged mirroring. Others are so much better at that than I am.
Her voice offered a cheerful, "Did you find everything you need?" and I answered, "Yes. Thank you." Her being, no not her body, voice, eyes nothing that tells of these things, said, "I'm not ok."
She went on to tell me about return policies, in case I ever needed to use them indicating, one should keep the packaging as well as the receipt, as so many steal these days, ending with, "You wouldn't believe what they steal!" I chimed something like, "Oh, but I would." Might as well. I've learned my natural silence makes people uncomfortable, and it's not too much effort much time to do the expected back up chorus. I had to be there until my things were totaled anyway, and before we'd finished I learned a great deal.
I don't always know what to say, so I listen a lot, and it seems listener is my best role. She told of an instance where, as per her job, she saw a teen pursing some items, and she confronted the child. Her voice beginning to show signs of shakiness, she went on to tell that after a bit, the teen cried, returned the items, and she asked for the Mother's phone number. She called and all was well, as the mom seemed kind.
Sensing what felt of doubt, I told her that may have been the best thing that ever happened to the child and it may well have saved her later worse problems. Relief coming from her like a breeze, she said, "Yes," and related a similar experience.
I was glad, as I had none to share.
She took me to her childhood, this woman of probably 50, whereupon spying a beautiful jar full of dimes, she thought she might take some, and had a wonderful day at the arcade. I smiled. These coins belonged to her father, and she said it was a week later, that he told her, he knew. Here visage by then changing, eyes becoming wet.
That story could go numerous ways, but her eyes. They told.
She related, admiration in her voice, that he gave her a week to learn on her own that she'd made a mistake, and she had. I smiled, and without thinking, perhaps too personal, as I often do, in awe, I said, "I can see your love for him in your eyes." I didn't mean to disarm.
With that, her tears came, and her face turned pink, and she answered smiling, "Oh yes! I love him. He is the best!" Her hands waving in the air to indicate, barring all other, he was HER Dad!. My face hurt for the smiles.
Her voice choked, as I picked up my bags and took my receipt. Both hands over her heart, she said, "He adopted me at three months old." Then backing away, she wished me a nice day as tears spilled and she smiled, I left her, and she left her stand. I imagine to go to solitary gratitude in the store room, or maybe she went to call her Dad. It sounded like a, "Thank you might be due to me." smiles.
I write this to tell you, it's rarely about me, my struggles to communicate. It's hardly ever about my difficulties, and often silenced, by any number of things in public, and so very sensitive, I become the unarmed solace, the listener. I see so much beauty, and this time I cried in my car, simply because her love was beautiful, and I got to see it.
Sometimes it's exactly my disabilities that enable me to be still enough to see these things. If I could talk better, she might not have had the chance to shine, so I'm glad. smiles.
As for understanding Neurotypicals (those not on the Autism Spectrum), I don't know if it has a lot to do with Autism. Maybe it's just about people with one strength being there for people with other strengths. I guess I'm a safe place. time after time the social guards of others fall around me, and I don't know why. It also seems that those innocent and hiding nothing seem relieved when we've encountered. Maybe that's the people I'm here for, my purpose.
I'd always loathed this Selective Mutism, but maybe it's just just the Universe telling me to be still, and listen. Mostly, what I learned was that I don't have casual conversation or casual encounters of any kind, even when I try. I am intimate and real, and when that is what, even a stranger ringing up items needs, something amazing happens that is far bigger than Neurotypicalism, Autism or me.