Autism is a disorder that impairs one’s ability to communicate and socially interact with other individuals. More than 200,000 people are diagnosed every year and it changes the way parents view their kids in more ways than one. As an autistic myself, I have struggled with this disorder (along with ADD) for most of my life, but have grown out of it to where people can’t tell at first glance. I’ve gone from being extremely antisocial and non-talkative to being more socially active and not afraid to speak to other people. On a Saturday night, I was working at Pappasitos and I would make a mother’s day worth while and here’s how I would do it.
On a semi-busy night, I was appointed with a party of 10 people to take care of. I did my usual greet, pitched this month’s drink and got their drink orders. It all went downhill from there when I accidentally dropped a glass of water on one of the guest. I was wildly apologetic and got paper towels to wipe off the table and the floors but that wouldn’t help because something awfully worse would happen to another guest out of the whole 10-top party.
This happened out of the corner of my eye so I didn’t get a good glimpse at what happened but apparently, a tree roach fell from a ceiling and landing on a mother’s head and the went crawling through the restaurant and that, I felt, was the end of my chance of getting a good tip from this table. I already put in the order in place so the food was already coming out. I told my manager their situation and he decided to comp their whole meal, which was already a $180 tab, so I was already feeling upset and agitated from these occurrences.
After their food came out I continued to be attentive to what the guest wanted, but while I was taking care of them, this one individual with a full Houston Astros outfit was very introverted and to himself. I was very intrigued by this and had a gut feeling that he was autistic. I continued evaluating him until I had the courage to approach his mom and ask if he was autistic and she said “yes he’s autistic” and then I replied “awesome; me too”. Then we conversed a little, mentioning how I couldn’t speak until I was five years old and the mother said he couldn’t speak until around that age either. Feeling satisfied, I left it there and continued working.
When they were ready for their checks I separated the tabs by four checks and handed them the guest. While I was checking to see if they were ready, everyone was ready except for the mother, who said she needed a minute. From what I could see, she was getting emotional, but I didn’t really bother to understand why so I proceeded to do my job. I processed the other guests’ payments and started pre-bussing the table, then I saw the mother was talking to Michael (my manager) and he processed the payment himself because he wanted to surprise me with the tip she gave me. After they thanked me for the service and left, Michael pulled me aside and showed a $0.1 tab (after he voided everything) with $60 tip behind that.
I was flabbergasted at why the tip was so high when my performance was so low and he said that she had no idea that I was mentally challenged, which Michael didn’t know at the time, and seeing that reminded her of her son. I was very happy to not only get a great tip, but also make her day by expressing my autism towards her. That’s the thing about autism; it’s not a disease and it doesn’t make people stupid or retarded. If anything it opens the imagination of an individual’s mind to any possibilities. Autistic people are the most imaginative, creative, and inspiring people you’ll find. If I had the chance to cure my autism, I wouldn’t because it’s a special part of me. It’s not a disease, it’s not a virus, it’s a tool for your imagination to prosper and lead you to great things