Today I visited the Department of Motor Vehicles website in order to renew the registration on my motorcycle. At the end of one of the pages is the familiar box, where we certify that we’re not robots. I clicked on it – and then realized it’s not entirely true.
In reality, we’re not all that different from robots. In a sense, we’re elaborate machines.
This became apparent to me when I tried to do some shopping at a local grocery store. They were playing Christmas music.
No problem! Even though I’m Jewish, I’ll have no part in The War Against Christmas. Christmas is an important part of Western culture, and specifically American culture. If I don’t like it, there are other countries I can move to where Christmas isn’t such a big deal, and where I’d be spared the constant drone of Christmas carols at retail outlets. When Americans celebrate Christmas, and greet each other with “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” I say, all the power to them!
And yet I was triggered. I literally had a bad mood attack, and felt an anger rising up in my bowels that was out of my control.
Years ago, I used to work in retail. From Black Friday until New Years, we would work long hours, sometimes 11 or 12 hours a day. At this particular store, the manager was a born-again Christian (or so it was said). He made sure that we were bombarded with Christmas carols for our entire shift – and not just any Christmas carols; he handpicked the most religious-oriented ones, the ones whose lyrics included “Christ Child,” and the like, numerous times.
These were hard times for me. As a borderline Aspie, noises and sounds have a big impact on me; I can’t tune out barking dogs, snoring or certain types of music. Over the course of those weeks, I couldn’t sleep, I felt tortured by the incessant carols assaulting my ears, it was raining non-stop and cold. I had nobody to talk to – and the music became a point of contention with my bosses. I got yelled at for wearing ear plugs.
Eventually, the holiday season ended, my work schedule went back to normal, I was prescribed Ambien to help me sleep – and I no longer had to endure the long days of constant Christmas carols.
But the trauma left its mark. The machinery of my psyche had been damaged. On a positive note, I can avoid these situations, so it’s not that big a deal.
It may not be true for all of us, but speaking for myself, the older I get the more I realize that I’m not that special. When it comes down to it, we’re products of our circumstances – not that different from robots.
On a positive note, here’s a photo from my recent vacation, driving a dune buggy while sick as a dog on a rainy day. What fun.