That was a joke?… Ha ha… Moving on…

woman's face without any features
Who were you again? … Oh, that’s right! Now I remember.

My Aspergers showed up for my presentation to Upper Management yesterday. We’ve been whirling through a massive restructuring at work, and now it’s time to create presentations for Those In Charge, so they can see who is worth keeping and who will be … er… transitioned to a new role/position (external to the company).

The stakes are high, and everyone is on edge… working overtime to look their best, do their best, and make a good impression.

I’m on the “meh…” side of things. Yes, I do need a job. I need the insurance. I need the paycheck. On the other hand, I have the kind of broad and deep skills that can land me a contract job in very short order, and which can even get me a good permanent position, if I want one, without inordinate pain and suffering. I get contacted by recruiters every week, and a lot of them are well-connected in this area.

Plus, I don’t have a lot of emotional investment in the company like many of my coworkers do. A lot of them have been there for more than 10 years — some 20 and 30 years. So, the company is like “their baby”. They helped build it, they’re attached to it. I’ve only been around about a year, and it’s not the be-all-to-end-all to me. I can take it or leave it.

I can stay or go. It’s pretty much the same to me. If they don’t have good sense to keep me, it’s their loss, really. Objectively speaking, I am an asset to them. I’m a great team player, I’m conscientious, I’m hard-working, enthusiastic, positive… and I’ve been coming up with solutions that nobody’s figured out after years of trying. They benefit from having me around — in fact they benefit more from me, than I do from them, in some ways.

So, I’m not sweating it at all.

And that came in handy, yesterday, when I was presenting my magical Powerpoint slide to Upper Management, getting intense scrutiny and having my work criticized and picked apart. It actually wasn’t painful at all. I needed to know ever single weak spot in my presentation, because it’s literally laying out the direction I’ll be taking in the coming year, and I need to get it right. I need it to be relevant and aligned with the overall plan. My Aspergers kicked in, focusing on the objective facts and details of what we were discussing, making it a purely logical experience. And it was good. I came away with some good points.

One thing happened while I was presenting, though, that gave me pause. I was running through my magic bullet points, when someone on the call made a comment about something being wrong. I thought they were being serious, and I started to address that as a real issue, launching into my detailed explanation of why it was the way it was. Then the person who made the comment told me, “That was actually a joke.” And I had to pause for a few moments to figure out what was funny about it, what the context was, and how the heck I was supposed to react to it.

After fumbling around for a few minutes, I finally gave up. “Oh, that was a joke — Ha ha –” I said. “Moving on…”

And I finished my presentation in good shape. The beauty part is, I didn’t get completely thrown by everything. I just took it in stride and moved on. My Royal Aspie-ness was in high gear, yesterday, as I completely blanked on recognizing the face of a Vice President I knew and passed in the hallway. She had to say “Hi!” to me, before I realized I knew here, and it took me a minute to remember who she was. I felt a little bad about not recognizing her straightaway, but what can you do? I’m hoping she just thought I was deep in thought, and not avoiding her… although I have to admit I often try to avoid looking at people, especially women, because I don’t always know how to read their expressions or figure out how to respond. Men are easier to interact with. Much more straightforward.

Anyway, yesterday was a special edition of Bring-Your-Aspergers-to-Work-Day for me. And yeah, when it shows up, sometimes the best I can do is say “Oh, so that’s what that was… Moving on…”

And not waste time feeling bad about it. That would be a poor use of time.



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