It was a glorious Northwest summer afternoon. The temp was hovering around 90° and I had been working in my office since daybreak. I called my husband at work to see if he wanted me to meet him after work to go windsurfing. This was an hour and a half before his quitting time. I told him that I’d run home, load up our boards, pack a picnic dinner and meet him there. He said, “Sure, see yah.”
I wrapped things up at my desk, and gave a few instructions to my staff. My kids were already away with friends so no worries there. I drove home, happily changed out of my suit and heels, and into a swimsuit and shorts. I grabbed swim trunks and tank top for Steve and stuffed them into a satchel. Next in went sunscreen, sunglasses, and both pairs of our aqua sox.
Dashing into the kitchen, I made sandwiches, packed salads and fruit, and put them all into a cooler along with water and sodas. Sliding my feet into a pair of flip flops, I grabbed our truck keys. I slung the cooler and beach towels into the truck cab, then backed up to the garage to load the windsurfers. Still in a whirlwind I snatched up my wallet and cellphone, our life vests, and was on my way in record time.
Steve worked at the south end of Lake Washington at that time. Coulon Beach Park had ample parking, lots of grassy area to picnic on, and a great beach to launch our boards from. It was a forty-five minute drive from our house and I was hitting the road almost exactly an hour before my hubby got off work. He would be able to drive straight there from his building’s parking lot and not have to wait for me. He hates to wait.
The midafternoon traffic was light so I made great time and arrived twenty minutes before Steve’s quitting time. I took our towels and cooler down to a great spot near the water. I went back and forth, toting boards and sails, bags and equipment. I glanced at my phone. Ten minutes past quitting time. Hmmm. Maybe Steve got stuck at his desk. I called but it went to voice mail. I paged him. Another ten minutes went by. No Steve. I popped open a soda and ate part of my sandwich as I kept an eye out for his car so I could wave him down to where I was.
Now an hour had gone by. Did he forget and drive home? I called the house but no answer. I tried his office and pager again. Nothing. No answer anywhere.
Now I’m irritated. What was going on? This was years before his Asperger diagnosis. I didn’t know about his Aspie thinking back then. I sat and fumed, trying to figure out what to do. It was now two hours past the time he should have been there.
I had just stood up to take my board out on the lake when I saw Steve pull in and park next to our truck. “Where in the world have you been?” I was pissed.
“I went to the store to pick some stuff up. Then I had dinner because I was hungry and I knew you couldn’t possibly get here before now with all you had to do!”
I was livid! “But I told you I would be here when you got off!” I protested. “And I told you that I was packing a picnic dinner!”
Steve looked dumbfounded. “But how could you do all that and be here when I got off?” he persisted. “I know you don’t usually leave the office until 5 or 6!”
All I could do was stare at him. I then repeated my whole conversation of earlier that afternoon with him. He agreed that it was all as I said, but he couldn’t understand how it could be when I didn’t normally leave work that early. In Steve’s Aspie world, routines are everything. He starts at the same time and leaves at the same time, day in and day out, week after week, year after year. I didn’t. I was self-employed and could come and go as I wished. In Steve’s mind that simply didn’t compute.
I turned on my heel, smoke pouring from my ears, and went out windsurfing until dusk. I guess he did also, as his dripping wet board was back in the truck with the rest of our gear. He didn’t apologize because he didn’t ‘get’ why I’d be upset. His rigid thinking predetermined that I would be two hours late and he wasn’t about to wait around for me. For him it was truth.
Thus began my reoccurring chant, “Just because you think it’s so doesn’t make it true!”