anxiety, autism, changes, culture, education, gangs, health, ideas, living abroad, psychology, travel, violence

You Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated

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The Long Flight to Japan

Some segregation I find necessary. Before anyone screams bloody murder and accuses me of bigotry, hear me out. None of it pertains to race, religion, creed, or any of that sort. On my way home from Saigon to Texas, I changed planes in Tokyo before venturing to Houston. The trip to Japan was a nightmare. The seats were uncomfortable with limited leg room. They’re made for short Asian people not tall Westerners like me. The flight full, and I had difficulty sleeping. A couple across the aisle had a 2-year-old infant crying her head off. I know nobody can calculate how fussy their children will be. I suspect the cabin pressure made her ears hurt. She was probably scared of the turbulence, moreover. I wanted to catch rest on the plane, but I deduced that would be impossible with that baby wailing non-stop. It was hard practicing restraint and not yelling, “Shut up!” in their direction. Not giving the parents scornful look was a greater challenge. Being the nice guy I am, I said nothing.

Judge Not Less Ye be Judged

I shared a status on Facebook venting my frustration stating they should make families sit at the back of the plane in an enclosed area with soundproof curtains. I imagine the readers want to tell me the same thing one woman said, “It’s easy for him to say when he has no kids.” Like I haven’t heard that a thousand times before when I got irritated. It’s easy for them to scold me when they weren’t the ones who had to sit on that plane. None of those naysayers are on the autism spectrum and hypersensitive to high-pitched sounds, either. I’m sure the parents were embarrassed and felt they were being judged. Periodically, the dad would sing a tune or the mother would carry the tyke to burp her. Just because I didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve doesn’t mean I don’t empathize. You wouldn’t believe the flack I caught. Left and right, I got bombarded with remarks from parents giving me the runaround about how insensitive I was. Despite what my critics concluded, I was thinking about that child. I was also factoring the well-being and comfort of the other passengers. I’ll bet if I spoke Japanese and took a consensus, most of those other travelers would say they wanted that baby to keep quiet.

Separate But Equal

Having a designated area for families in the back with a soundproof wall for a few hours is nothing like forcing African-Americans and other minorities to live in separate parts of towns with inadequate facilities. I don’t know where someone came up with this grandiose idea to use that strawman argument, but it holds no water; apples and oranges. By that logic, I guess we shouldn’t have people fly first class or coach. I don’t see anyone lamenting over the airlines allowing folks with greater finances to sit at the front of the plane. Oh, wait! That’s different! We’re supposed to give them preferential treatment because they paid more money, right? Like I said, having a section towards the tail of the plane is no worse to me than having first class and coach seating or smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants. On that note, I say restaurants should adopt the same practice or have certain hours which children can attend. While the PC police might jump on this like white on rice, I stand by my point. Most people don’t want kids running around terrorizing the other patrons while they want to eat their meals in peace or kids screaming at the top of their lungs when people are trying to unwind. I don’t recall hearing about any time civil rights leaders caused that kind of disruption unless you count Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama back in 1955.

Remember the Heysel and Hillsborough Stadiums

There is a time and place for everything. I don’t expect everyone to opine like me, but I’m using facts and first-hand experience to state my argument. I also believe they should separate fans of home and visiting teams during sporting events. Not only do I declare alcohol shouldn’t be served; I also feel there should be family and adult sections. I’ve been to more than one ballgame in my life to see alcohol brings out the worst in people. I’m more familiar with the mob mentality than I care to admit. One particular event that molded my standpoint is the Heysel Stadium Disaster in 1985. Several soccer fans gathered to cheer a match between Liverpool FC and AC Juventus. Numerous British fans assaulted the Italian spectators causing a human crush. In the end, 39 people were killed while 600 were injured. Something worse unfolded four years later during the Hillsborough Tragedy in Sheffield, England. Not only were the stadiums overcrowded, many victims in both cases were children.

The Long Track Record

There’ve even been incidents during NFL games where things have gotten out of hand and brawls have broken out. This is one reason the Oakland Raiders left the Coliseum in Los Angeles. They didn’t want to be affiliated with gang culture which was another causation towards their relocation to Las Vegas for the 2020 season. Philadelphia Eagles fans have a long track record of causing ruckuses, too. All the reason more why I think sports fans should be segregated, and alcohol should be either prohibited or at least limited during events. To put it bluntly, I’m more concerned about the safety and security of everyone around than I am the revenue alcohol brings in towards an organization, the feelings of emotional hemophiliacs who expect everyone to do things by their universal PC playbook, or entitled parents who want everyone to accommodate them because they have children. Nobody ever afforded me that courtesy for having autism, so I don’t owe them the same in return.

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autism, culture, health, ideas, living abroad, psychology, travel

Elephants in the Room

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A New Arrival

When I first arrived in Asia, I had different expectations from what I’ve seen in person. I was under the impression everyone was well-disciplined, everything was tidy, and there were no crimes. That was what I’d seen on television, so it must’ve been true. My anthropology professors discussed ancient civilizations not modern culture. I studied the physical geography of the continent in college not the cultural aspect. Those images I’d seen were either distortions or facets of Japanese culture. For whatever reason, the Western media paints Japan as the archetype of Asia. Little did I know there’d be total chaos and gridlock. Not until I landed in Bangkok did I realize the traffic was atrocious. The only reason I knew about the crooked cab drivers was because Nitya, a Thai acquaintance of my mother, told me when she learned I was going there. Nitya further advised me not to point my foot at or touch anyone on the head as the foot is considered the dirtiest part of the body while the head is the purest. That correlates with Buddhism and each body part’s distance from the sky and ground.

No Dogs Allowed

I was certain the locals ate dogs and puppies as delicacies. While that may have been true before, that’s not the case anymore. They own dogs and cats as pets the same as Westerners. Many times I’d drive around Saigon on my motorbike seeing puppies yapping away inside cages. I’d worry they might wind up in a soup, but they don’t. They have puppy mills in Vietnam which are illegal in the United States. People sell them on the streets as pets. While that may be questionable, that’s not as barbaric as the former. I’ve seen locals walking around with their dogs every day. There’s a bodega down the alley from my apartment. The shopkeeper brings in one of her two dogs periodically. They smile and seem friendly with the customers. They love being petted. That tells me they’re not abused, nor are their lives in danger. The only bad thing I can say is I’ve noticed strays roaming streets here and there. That’s because not everyone is inclined to spay and neuter like they are in the West. That doesn’t mean they want to filet them. Just as nobody in America eats possum and squirrels anymore, Asia experienced a cultural shift. This region is more developed than that now. They’re not savages.

An Asian Equation

Another stereotype you hear is that the women are submissive. I’ve gotten into heated arguments with Western women over this. Some feminists presume any Western male who comes here to find a partner is looking for a subservient housewife who keeps her mouth shut and knows her place. That’s another convention long outdated. I’ll bet whoever believes that has never met a Japanese or a Korean woman before. They have a reputation for being a handful. Any skeptics reading this might also want to Google ‘tiger mom’ or ‘dragon lady’ whenever you get a chance. Like the dog-eating, that may have held water in the past, but that’s anything but true from what I’ve seen. In fact, Thai women can be quite aggressive. They don’t mess around. They’ll cut you in half if you step out of line. Overall, Vietnamese women I’ve seen aren’t as bold, but they still hold their own. Just because the women in this region don’t hyphenate their surnames when they marry, have purple Skrillex hair, or cover themselves with tattoos and piercings doesn’t mean they’re barefoot, pregnant, and stuck in the kitchen. Even in this ‘horrible patriarchy,’ women comprise more than half the work force and college graduates. And yes, they drive cars, own property, manage businesses, and have positions of power.

All Work and No Play

How does this relate to Asperger’s? If anyone knows about my condition, I’m sure you’ve heard the suspicions about us as well. I ran into occupational trouble back home over this when I worked at Hospira Labs. I didn’t want anyone to know, but it slipped out. To make a long story short, I was backed into a corner and forced into that position. It was a semi-hostile working environment. One of my African-American coworkers compared me to Nathan, a friend and fellow employee who’d worked there several years. He said to me, “Well you ain’t like no other autistic person I met. You ain’t no math genius. You ain’t discussin’ no string theories and science. You ain’t no computer guru. You ain’t beatin’ your head against the wall. Do you wear diapers, collect toy trains, or watch Star Trek?” This shows you his lack of education. It didn’t bode well when I fired back and told him, “Well you’re not like every other black guy I’ve known. Your name isn’t Tyrone, Jamal, or Leroy. You’re not a basketball player, a football player, or a rapper. You don’t wear Nikes or your pants below your butt like you just soiled them. You don’t drive a Cadillac, an Oldsmobile, or a Pontiac. You’re not in jail or prison. I assume you’re not a deadbeat dad or an ex-con. Do you eat cornbread, fried chicken, and collard greens every night? Do I get to ask who your baby mamas are? Do you have any illegitimate children or pay child support?” The fella didn’t appreciate me placing him in the same box as all the other African-American males depicted on television, but that was the point. I hope he got the message. Not long after I was sacked for reasons unrelated to this.

The Elephant in the Room

The moral to this story is I believe exposure is the key to any education. Any fool can reverberate what one hears on television or what one’s teachers may or may not tell them. First-hand experience is another ballgame as it leaves less room for interpretation. As you can see, even with my background in anthropology, I was ignorant about some Asian customs. All I understood was what I was told by other Westerners or what was depicted on screen. I knew nothing about the corrupt police in Vietnam and Thailand or the stigma about mental health until I came here. I had no idea Asperger’s would be a deal-breaker for certain jobs until I started seeking employment in Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, and other places. It’s hard to distinguish these case because, like pedophilia, abortion, and homosexuality, it’s a taboo subject nobody wishes to touch with a 10-foot pole. It’s the elephant in the room. Usually, I don’t divulge it to any colleagues unless I have to because not only is it none of their business. I don’t want them to undermine or mistrust me.