Time, Gentlemen, please …

I’ve spent most of the last decade trying to make a career in an industry in which, let’s be frank, someone on the autism spectrum like me probably doesn’t belong.


Working in customer-facing roles in hospitality, has pushed me way out of my comfort zone, and at times it’s been a huge struggle. Sometimes I’ve been pushed to the point of physical and mental exhaustion, especially during the extremely busy times in summer, But I’ve never given up – I have kept trying and I’ve worked hard at trying to understand all the subtle social stuff: facial expressions, workplace politics and all the things that your average neurotypical person seems to find so easy to understand.
I am proud to say that during my time in this demanding industry, I’ve managed to hold managerial positions. The thing with being in that type of position is that I find some things very difficult.
One – the hours: I’ve been at work for an average of ten and half hours a day, five days a week, always working evenings and Bank Holidays, and often, weekends too. This may not sound much, but when you’re constantly having to socialise – or to “people” as I like to put it – this can be incredibly draining.


Two – the “Peopling” itself. I pride myself on being able to interact with the public – trying to understand them and the subtle hints they drop about things. It’s another thing entirely to spend all day trying to mask and pass yourself off as neurotypical. It makes it even harder when you find that customers have left reviews commenting on my inability to hold eye contact or taste the beer myself (as I’m coeliac and therefore allergic to wheat and barley).
Three – I find it difficult to understand some rather fluid rules. Normally rules are easy to follow. It’s not hard to understand that if you drive drunk, you’ll be arrested and lose your license. But some rules in the hospitality trade seem to be very flexible, and if you get it wrong, it can be a massive deal. Rules that apply to most customers, don’t apply to regulars, or those who the owners know and like. It’s like saying that on certain days, or in a particular coloured car, speeding is acceptable, but those special days and colours can change, without warning. That’s how I feel when I’m told we have certain rules then I’m expected to be able to know when and who those do and don’t apply to. I think even a neurotypical would struggle with this.


All of these things cause me to realise that maybe I would be better in a role where there are set (but not too many) hours, and the rules apply to everyone and everything. I think I could also do better in any given job if people above me were not just aware I’m autistic, but also know how to manage it and maybe even help me develop. I can show them what qualities and positives someone on the spectrum can bring to the table.


So, in light of the current pandemic situation, and the fact that both Mrs Bob & I are at high risk due to lung issues, I’ve made the difficult & emotional decision that it’s time to call last orders on this chapter in my life. It’s a time I will look back on with great nostalgia and a sense of accomplishment that I’ve managed to achieve things that years earlier I would have never thought possible.


I would like to thank those people who took a chance on me and allowed me to show them (and myself) what I am capable of.
It’s time now for a complete career change, and possibly a return to my science and aerospace engineering background. I’m not sure yet. So stay tuned and above all…
Stay Safe X

Credit where it’s due

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I write scribbles, or – as some people call them – poems. I have produced four anthologies so far.

  • Behind the Mask (2010 & 2014)
  • Scribblology V2 (2018)
  • Alexithymia (2019)
  • (Re)Mixtapes (2020)

Alongside these, I’ve written a few other scribbles and have ghost written some, not because they’re terrible, but because there are times when I want to say things or touch on subjects that my regular readers might not like or appreciate. I’ve also submitted pieces for online and written articles, and have been interviewed several times, once for a book about autistic adults. I’ve performed live, too, and this is something I find very scary; if I’m honest, I can’t eat or sleep properly for a couple of days before a gig and I usually have to wear sunnies to help with stage fright. But it’s a small price to pay to help promote my work, and even more importantly, to raise awareness of autism.

One thing I still find very difficult to deal with is complimentary comments about my writing. Mrs Bob will always tell me honestly what she thinks about my work; if it’s not as good as it could be, she’ll say so, and I value her input. She’s my second biggest critic (after myself) so I don’t tend to pay much attention to her praise, if I’m honest (sorry princess) It’s when I get members of the public saying nice things about my work that I struggle.

So imagine my shock and surprise when I got this message from someone who’s read my last book. “Mate that’s your best book yet!! 🤙🏼 I read some to the Mrs and she really liked them too.” “Honestly mate it is your best work. So many of them are very relatable and that helps.”

This actually left me speechless and unable to function properly, which as Mrs Bob will confirm, is quite a feat. I usually don’t shut up. I’m not sure why compliments have such an effect on me? Could it be that I’m suffering from imposter syndrome or is my autism making it impossible for me to take compliments… Mrs Bob says she has a feeling it stems back to my schooldays.

Either way, I must say that I’m going to just say to anyone who is kind enough to take the time to let me know that they enjoyed it “thank you for your very kind words” and learn to accept that some people are going to like my work. That I have worked very hard and I am worthy of the compliments I receive. It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

I haven’t written a blog for a while, as I’ve been focussed on my latest book. Above all thank you very much, each and every one of you, for your continued love and support over the years. I may not be able to verbalise it, but it means so much to me.

Stay Safe X

Old School

Old School

by BobChristianPoetry

I’m an OG

I was a geek before 

chic. 8-bit, pre-Sega

Mega driving games

On 48k tapes

Spending weekends 

In the school dungeon

With Dragons, Space

Marines, paint and dice.

Mayor West, Batman.

A team of superheroes

Villains. A playground 

Galaxy far, far away.

I’m an D20 wearing,

Sindarin speaking, 

Comic book reading,

MMORPG playing

Original geek.

NB You can also call me Rhiluron of Rivendell

(C) Bob Christian  

Poetry 101

(C)Bob Christian Poetry

Searching deep within me.
Down, where the light has never reached.

Searching my memories,
Looking for one of who I used to be.

Exploring, revisiting,
Reliving feelings lost. Recording them anew.

Words flowing out, Crimson on metallic paper. Like that night.

Standing, vocalising, terrible feelings, laid bare for your approval.

Head down, leaving the stage, it’s over I’ve given it my all.

Antisocial Media

Did you know that, on average, we spend two and half hours each day looking down at our phone screens?


That’s over nine hundred hours or 38 days that we lose each year in a corporately created black hole.

In this digital era of smart phones and touch screens, we are drifting apart, losing touch with the reality of each other.


This place where a person’s worth is measuredIn likes on (anti)social media platforms It’s all about our digital self – our selfies.

Popularity is measured in followers or how long our friends list is, while in real Life, most of these people are lonely.

Why don’t we take that time to hug some real people who LIKE the real us not some virtual doppelgänger.

18 Minutes

The earth is 4.543 billion years old. Man, as a species, is a baby at only 200 thousand years old. This means that if you were to take that time, Condense it down into a single year, then man has existed for hardly any time. Just a little over 18 minutes.

What have we done in those 18 minutes? Arrogantly declared ourselves to be alpha species in a world full of incredible plants and creatures that all existed peacefully for aeons before we arrived. Those we don’t destroy will outlive us. Yet we humans believe we are clever?

Maybe we are. Some intelligence is good, but not too much. We’ve recently made leaps and bounds in science, technology – spending billions searching for a new planet to Call home. To ravage. While using Our “intelligence” to destroy this one.

In 18 minutes we have wiped vast numbers of beloved animals off this planet. We have accelerated the extinction rate to a staggering 10,000 times above the base rate. These creatures connected to us all in DNA. How many must disappear off this planet.

Before we open our ears to mother nature’s screams for help? All the while continuing the constant neglect and mistreatment. Open your eyes to all her warning signs. Global warming. Larger storms than ever. Rising drought. Deforestation. Acid rain. The cause of this destruction? It’s us.

Thankfully, this tale is not completely bleak or apocalyptic. Some people are waking up, realising there’s a sacred connection between Mother Earth and mankind. They refuse to Let it be destroyed – for its beauty to be ruined -For future generations. Can she be saved? Or are we responsible for writing her eulogy?

Stop

Stop

(from Alexithymia)

Please stop for a minute.
Yes, I’m talking to you.
Don’t do what it is that,
You’re planning to do.

Let these words reach you
While I have your attention.
I won’t try to say that I know
The things you’re going through.

Just know that this pain
You’re feeling right now?
I’ve been there – reaching
For the solution in whatever

Form it might take – cold steel,
Booze or pills. So, even though
I don’t know you, we have, at this
Point, something in common.

I was twenty-seven the first time
I felt I was out of options. Taking
The ultimate step that day
When I tried to put myself away.

I felt like I was screaming inside.
Remember, I’ve been where you
Are. I’ve walked that mile in those
Shoes; I want you to know this:

You are stronger than you realise.
This is a fight you can win, even
If your doubts drown everything
Out, hold on a little longer. Stay.

Let me talk to you. Let my words
Through, even if you don’t
Think you can do it. I’ll share
This pain; be a voice of reason.

You have better times ahead
Believe me, try to see, I beg of
you. Don’t take your life. Instead,
Take my hand – we’ll do this together.

Labelling

I was invited to join a private group on Facebook for people on the Autism Spectrum. I was told that it was run very well, and that the admins kept a keen eye on posts. This was because a particular group had been spammed repeatedly with religious posts saying a certain monotheistic religion’s deity needed the person to share a post to ten groups, or his arch nemesis (a red guy with horns) would win.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for religious freedom of speech. I mean, I own – and have read – three different books of holy scriptures, so I’m pretty diverse and tolerant – or at least I’d like to think so.

I decided to take this person up on the offer and join the group. I’m not going to mention the name, for obvious reasons. As a private group, I had to confirm I’d read the rules before being allowed to join. Mostly, they were straightforward, like no promotion of ABA therapy or Autism Speaks, etc. Fairly standard stuff in most ASD groups I’ve joined really. But then there was a question I thought was a little strange. It read:

“Do you understand why functioning labels (including Aperger’s and Aspie) are harmful? If no , are you willing to learn?”

I was curious as to why this was the case. Sure, I understand tha functionality labels like high or low functioning can be harmful, as they’re not really applicable, and I covered this very thing in my post Higher or Lower in December. I can at various times seem either low or high functioning so I understood that bit. The term Asperger’s, though, I didn’t understand, as it’s still used as a diagnosis in the UK, even if the Americans stopped it being used in 2013. So, I answered the questions and waited.

Ping..!

“You’ve been approved to join the group”. Hurrah!

Then I got a notification to say that I’d been sent to a page explaining the question about labels, so I could be educated on why I was wrong, and the things I needed to learn to be able to stay within this group.

The article read: “No functioning labels or “ Aspie Supremacy” we’re all autistics here, there’s no need to “other” yourself in this way. Functioning labels are ableist and Aspergers/Aspie are particularly ableist as well as being rooted in Nazi history.

I thought this was a bit harsh, as I am diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome.

It then continued to say “Aspergers specifically is much worse than just a functioning label. Aspergers syndrome was a functioning label featured in the DSM for 19 years (1994-2013) and has now been removed because it is inaccurate.” This is only the case in the USA – the UK still uses it. They went on to say: “The only recognised autistic diagnosis is Autism Spectrum Disorder. Aspergers was used by high functioning people to separate themselves from their autistic peers. Even if you were diagnosed with Asperger’s, it’s not ok to use that term here. If you’re caught using said ableist Nazi labels, you will be muted for 24 hrs and sent to this page to learn why such labels are offensive to all autistic people.

Really? I’m autistic and I don’t find it offensive.

What I do find offensive is the fact that I can’t refer to myself as I was diagnosed. Admittedly, mostly I’d say to people that I’m autistic, as I have a form of ASD. But to be called an Aspie Supremacist is not only rude, but also it’s the kind of attitude that drives a wedge between all of us on the spectrum. I don’t think I’m better than another fellow person on the ASD, just because I occasionally say I have Asperger’s. For goodness sake, there are times when I stutter and become non verbal or meltdown like any autistic person. We’re all one big neurodiverse tribe, so why can’t we just get along, instead of creating issues that don’t exist?

I didn’t join the group…

Stay Safe X

Future Stories

“Future Stories” by Bob Christian

This is a quick scribble called “Future Stories”. Please feel free to drop me a comment on what you think.

To my younger self


Take the time out to Enjoy those precious Times, people, places. Make another memory. You’ll thank yourself in the future.


Take the time out to Heal those wounds. Keep moving forwards Physically and mentally. You’ll thank yourself in the future.


Take the time out to Create those stories; Ones that your future Generation will re-tell You’ll be remembered in their future.

New page

I’ve had a great few weeks, creatively. I feel as if I’m really on form with my scribbles, which is unusual for me. My writing is finally at the stage where I’m just starting to believe the nice things people are saying about my poetry.

Yes, I’m finally starting to see what I do as actual poetry. I’m no Oscar Wilde, Burns or Kipling, though, that’s for sure! Still, I do share a fraternal membership in common with those heavy-hitters of the literary world. – I’m certainly happy with my creative path.

I’ve now turned my head to creating ways of advertising my work, and getting myself out there, not for fame or fortune, but in the hope that I can raise awareness of two things that I have a lot of experience with: Autism and depression.

I’m guessing there have been times in everyone’s lives when you’ve felt sad or low. It might be that, when these feelings arrive, they last for a few weeks and get in the way of day-to-day life. It could be a period of depression, which has a range of symptoms that vary from person to person, and could be mild or really severe.

It’s no different for someone like me, on the Autism spectrum, to deal with depression than a non-autistic person. I’ve done some research, and at least 20% of people in the world will experience a form of depression at some point in their lives. Sadly, it’s even more common in people who are on the Autism spectrum.

In my humble opinion, depression and suicide should be treated much more seriously. That way, it might make its way into books and education curricula everywhere and the message can be repeated over and over to our children and grandchildren that it’s ok to not be ok. We need to make it ok to talk about it.

Stay Safe X