Normally I’m the one who accidentally breaks things. Normally I’m the one who manages to find the ‘wrong’ way to do something even when everyone else is convinced that there couldn’t possibly be any way to screw it up. Today was the opposite. This time my natural instinct served to keep me safe while I watched another make a ‘mistake’ I could never imagine making myself.
Today I had a house inspection. Our real estate agent came round and was checking out a whole bunch of maintenance items including some work in our back courtyard. She was a professionally dressed woman, not very tall, probably in her late forties or early fifties (estimated BMI 27). Some of her comments made it clear that she was concerned about the limitations of her body, but she decided to step up onto our 60 cm retaining wall regardless. Going up directly would have been difficult for a short person in a tight skirt, so instead she used a little bench as a step. Perhaps she’d seen me use it for the same purpose just a few moments earlier. I have to admit it ‘looked’ like a step.
Perhaps you can guess where this is going. I say ‘bench’ but it was really just a plank of old rotting wood used to hold outdoor pots. She planted her foot right in the middle and so of course the plank caved under her weight. The result was nothing catastrophic. She didn’t fall or injure herself in any way. The only casualty was that little bench.
So why was this a reverse Aspie moment? Because she made a ‘stupid’ mistake and failed at something that I take for granted. The beam only gave way because she foolishly stepped right in the middle – something I would never do! Doesn’t she know that the bending stress in a beam increases the further you step away from the vertical support? The middle is the WORST place you could possibly step! Surely that’s basic common knowledge! I remember walking on a tin roof with my dad when I was very little. We were always careful to step directly on the beams, rather than on the unsupported sheet metal.
The moral of the story though is that it struck me how completely oblivious she was to the ‘obvious best way’ in my opinion. She never learned something that I considered to be basic common knowledge and this led her to do something which seemed, in my world, to be incredibly stupid (i.e. step in the middle). She probably had good subconscious reasoning. I imagine that to her it seemed safer to plant her weight in the middle of the step, as far away from those dangerous edges as possible.
This must be how others see me a lot of the time. Following my own foreign logic and doing things that seem stupid (from an outsider’s perspective). Why would you do it THAT way, when everyone else naturally does it THIS way?
This also helps me to realise that it’s not my fault if I accidentally make a mistake. It doesn’t help to blame people for their ignorance. It doesn’t help to label people as ‘stupid’ for not seeing the ‘obvious’ answer. Instead, if I were paying attention, I could have avoided the whole situation by giving her better instructions. ‘Be sure to stand on the edge where it’s stronger’. Next time, when I do something that seems ‘obviously wrong’ maybe it’s just because my internal logic missed a crucial element that everyone else took for granted (and never bothered to explain to me).