May 12, 2023, Carson City-
“What we have here, is a failure to communicate”-Strother Martin, Cool Hand Luke
The seemingly forlorn young woman remained holed up, in our shared Mixed Dorm room, speaking briefly, when spoken to, but not offering much, in the way of information about herself. She was functioning and while not outwardly fearful of her two male roommates, had clearly been through a bit of trauma somewhere else, and recently.
The little girl was chatty with her mother, and with another woman, who was from China and who conversed through a translation app on her phone. She went back and forth to her grandmother, in the next car of our train from Sacramento to points east (mine being Reno) and was a kind big sister to her toddler brother, when he got sick and vomited- to which their parents tended, without making a big scene. The family was friendly, but were a self-contained unit. They considered, and politely declined, offers of help from me and from the Chinese woman.
The Turo automobile renter apologized profusely, when his wife took the car I had rented from them, and went to work, returning about ten minutes after my appointed pick-up time, and having put a full tank of gas in, on her way back. While we waited, he told me of the struggles that face both the fast food industry and the truck stops that house many such establishments, as mergers and AI make decisions that are out of whack with reality on the ground. The representatives of High Management are “shocked” to discover that the lay-offs and budget cuts, which their overlords demand, will actually serve to make things far worse, as staff is frequently already at bare minimum.
The two winsome pre-adolescent girls stuck together, brought an issue to the motel owner’s attention and looked after me, while I was checking into my room, later remarking to one of their other friends that they thought I was “special”, though I barely said much more than “Thank you” to one who had picked up a dropped item. The group of children later gathered in a small play area that the owner has established where families can relax and where children can safely enjoy the fresh air.
My extended family, here in Carson, communicated their plans to me, via their matriarch’s texts. It sounds like a delightful two days, as always. We spoke a lot, back and forth, about how essential unconditional love is for children and how that love is most always passed on to the next generation, as well as how it can be brought into the lives of those whose lives have been hell. The woman I call my spiritual sister has raised countless foster children, her two adopted children and her natural-born daughter-and has been a rock for her grandchildren of two generations. Communication has been her staple.
Communication once came hard to my autistic self, but as the love that has always been in my heart overcame the reticence that consumed my mind, connecting with others has become an essential part of being. With Artificial Intelligence and more distant decision-making, often based more on incomplete information and wildly overblown assumptions, being de rigueur, even the most seemingly banal texts and IMs have assumed essential status, in order for the right thing to happen for the good of the order.
Miscommunication can be a snowball going downhill. It is our lot, to prevent it from becoming an avalanche.