Since my last post, many things have happened. Obviously, since it’s been such a long time. I now work as a hostess at Applebee’s. It’s a struggle. When I told my family about getting the job, the father of my cousin that has High Functioning Autism commended me on my courage. Having AS, casual parties can be exhausting. Having my job be to talk to people and make them happy, it’s even more exhausting. I’ve realized that, in my job, I am invisible. It reminded me of a report I did on The Invisible Man my junior year of high school.
I wear a bright, white shirt with a name tag. I’m standing in the entrance, saying “Hello. Welcome to Applebee’s.” and people still walk past me in silence, without even glancing my way. It’s fairly obvious that if you’d like to be seated, find your group, or be directed to the bar for gift cards, I am the person you should consult. I am there, but people don’t see me. I am invisible. Often, I will be cleaning a table next to some patrons, and they will continue on in their conversations, even when the topic is extremely personal; because I am not there. I hear things that I normally wouldn’t. And it’s strange.
When people do notice me, they’re either very happy with my service or they take a fact/innocent statement/confused look in a totally wrong way. I never know what will happen. It can become overwhelming. I am insignificant, unappreciated, bullied, and criticized. My current job is the least fulfilling job I’ve ever had. BUT there are those occasional customers that will make the job worthwhile. Even if I hate my job, I am very good at it. It is my goal to make everyone smile when I seat them at their table. I don’t even have to fake my positive attitude like most do, because that’s just who I am. I try to think of it as practice for socializing. It is my job to talk to the customers when I seat them, so I get creative with conversation starters. I notice an article of clothing, a certain hair style or color, an accent, or an accessory and go off that. “I like your hair, it’s beautiful.” “Are you from (fill in the blank) or did you recently visit there?” “That is such a bold choice in hair color. I like it.” “Is European beer better than American? No, I’ve never tried German beer. What’s the difference?” (There are German soldiers at the base nearby.)
There are hard days when I make a social slip up and a customer will be super upset with me. There are easy days when all the customers are pleasant and things go smoothly. There are amazing days when people will tip me because they really enjoyed talking to me and they appreciated the quality customer service I’ve provided.
Overall, I think that this job is a good thing for me to experience. I think everyone should work at least one job in the customer service industry. It builds character, helps to increase patience, teaches the value of holding one’s tongue, and teaches humility. For those with High Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome, it can help you develop better social skills. I do not and I will not regret working this job, but it’s definitely not where I belong. Looks like it’s time to start looking for a job that will better suit me.
Wish Me Luck,