My Personal Ratings System For Teachers, Coaches, & Leaders

Check out this little league coach showing this youngster how to grip a bat; now that’s teaching! Photo courtesy of


As many of you would probably know if you’ve been reading this blog or any of the stuff I’ve written on sites like Hub Pages, I worked with young people in some capacity – a physical education teacher, a sports coach (mostly baseball & softball), a tutor, and an after school leader – for roughly 25 years.

After those days were over and I had some time to reflect on it all, having noticed the styles of the various teachers and coaches that I worked with, worked for, and who taught and coached me during my formative years in school,

I developed a ratings system pertaining to the personality a teacher/coach; his or her philosophy and approach to working with and (particularly) interacting with children and young folks and how effective such would ultimately have.

My system is based on a 1-10 scale:

ONE –  a teacher/coach whose approach is that of a buddy or a best friend, which in my experience describes many youth sports coaches who coach beginners and kids who are single-digit age.

Teachers and coaches like this are often quite popular, and their charges usually have a fun experience, which is important.


The problem with leaders like this is that the children who are learning whatever they are learning, usually end up not learning anything as the mindset of coaches like this is,


“We’re just here to have fun, it doesn’t really matter (if you get any better at whatever’s being taught)”


In essence, coaches like this run their team like a glorified recess.

Which is not good.


TEN – the opposite of a “ONE” coach.

Basically a Marine Corps drill sergeant in boot camp-type of leader.

These are the coaches/teachers who yell/scream at their students/athletes, belittling them, oftentimes calling them names, saying that they suck, giving harsh punishments, even throwing things at them.

A good illustration of this: My first high school marching band director (I had two during those days).

As a teacher, he fit all the above descriptions, his most often tirade being – at the top of his lungs of course, while looking like he was about to turn into the Incredible Hulk…


“You stink! You can’t march!! You can’t play!!! YOU STINK!!! I HATE YOU!!! Now go on and give me some push-ups!!! GO ON!!!!”


I also vividly recall him throwing his baton at a trumpet player during a rehearsal.

Essentially, teachers and coaches like him aren’t just intimidating, they are just plain mean – at least with their charges during practice or rehearsal.



I like the way the coach – one guess who it is by this pic – is interacting with his team here. Photo courtesy of


And then there’s a…

FIVE – The rating that all leaders need to strive for.

These are the people who can get on you if needed, but in a good way so as to not make their students or players feel demeaned or humiliated.

More importantly, these are the leaders that show that they care about you not only in whatever they’re coaching or teaching,

But also as a human being.

For these coaches, it’s about positive reinforcement, self-esteem, and confidence building without being overly friendly or not holding their charges accountable.

In my experience and observation, there are only two people who are perfect fives in my book:

1. John Wooden, the former UCLA basketball coach widely regarded as the greatest coach in the history of sports not only due to his winning ten national championships in a twelve-year span – including seven in a row – but also due to his various quotes like “Be quick, but don’t hurry” and “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”  and his renowned “Pyramid of Success”, that is a basic guide on how to succeed in life.


2. Valorie Kondos Field, the dynamic coach of UCLA’s women’s gymnastics team who has won national championships, worked with All-Americans, members of the U.S. National Team (and other countries),  Olympians and Olympic gold medalists, and who like Wooden has been extremely effective in teaching her young ladies how to get along in life, which has shown in the success of all her gymnasts once their Bruin days were done.


As For Me and My Rating As A Coach And A Teacher…

I was more or less all over the place.

There were times where I was about an eight, particularly during my first few years working with kids as while I never, ever hit anyone, I was a bit of a yeller at times and a my-way-or-else type of leader, something saying things to certain kids that I regret, that I would apologize for if I ever encountered such kids today.

There were also times when I was about a three, in that I would interact with my students and athletes like I was trying to be their buddy, which ruined the sense of authority that I was trying to establish.

I’d never say that I was a perfect five, but I was always striving for it, and you know what?

If I ever got a chance to coach or teach again, I’m confident that I would be as close to a five – perhaps a four or a six – than I ever was.

I hope this rating system makes sense to those of you who teach or coach or have aspirations to do so.

It’s certainly something that will be kept in my mind if the opportunity to work with young people ever arises again for me, my attitude being…



Another illustration of good instruction from a coach. Photo courtesy of





BLACK PANTHER: A Belated Review and Musings About The Smash Hit Movie

Photo courtesy of



When I read the rave reviews of Black Panther in the Los Angeles Times,

And when I saw on the news that the movie, directed by Ryan Coogler and written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole and starring Chadwick Boseman as the title character, was an absolute smash hit, breaking box office records,

My prevailing thought was, “Looks like I’m gonna have to see it.”

It was just a matter of finding the time.

The time which I found yesterday as I went to a movie theater a few miles from my house to check out Black Panther for myself.


The Verdict (or my official review in other words)?



OUTSTANDING in all aspects – story, plot, scenery, cinematography, art direction, costuming, acting performances.



The official trailer from “Black Panther”, courtesy of YouTube.



And a significant accomplishment in the sense that as Black Panther is, well, Black and from an African country whose technology, advancements, and standard of living matches any so-called “First World” country and then some,

Unlike the unfortunate images we get of emaciated refugees, tyrannical despot rulers, and extremist religious groups that slaughter entire villages and kidnap/enslave/rape scores of young girls and thinking nothing of it (read: Boko Haram in Nigeria) from that continent.

And even more significantly, this movie smashes the notion in mainstream Hollywood once and for all that a “Black” film can’t do well in the box office, particularly overseas.

Though I don’t expect Black Panther to win any large number of Oscars next year due to the fact that superhero movies rarely get any love from the Academy – because of when it was released, it’s not eligible for this year’s Academy Awards – I do expect it to get quite a few nominations, including best picture, director and actor/actress (both lead and supporting),

As well as more or less all the technical stuff; special effects, cinematography, art direction, costuming – which I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t win at least a couple of Oscars in those areas.

My thoughts regarding Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Black Panther/the ruler of Wakanda who inherits the throne and, well…I’m not going to spoil the plot for you in case you haven’t seen it yet:



Lupita Nyong’o (left) with Chadwick Boseman in a scene from Black Panther. Photo courtesy of



First Jackie Robinson in 42,

Then James Brown in Get On Up,

Then the great former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall,

Now this!

I certainly hope that this actor is enjoying his A-List status, as I consider him in that league now.

Especially since he’ll be playing Black Panther in several more movies in the coming years.

By the way,  I have four words for Coogler and Cole…

Start writing the sequel.

As for the other actors besides Boseman…


A VERY cool movie poster! Image courtesy of

An extended trailer for Black Panther, courtesy of YouTube (click on the link).



Michael B. Jordan as the villain/enemy Erik Killmonger was the standout among many standouts such as Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as General Okoye, and Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s ballsy, tech-savvy sister Shuri.

He was a true bad guy (I won’t spoil it and reveal what he does), but you also see the reasons why he’s bad.

And, in a way, you end up understanding the factors going into his evilness.

At least I understood it as I watched the film.

I particularly loved the scenery and the costumes; it has seemed that the beauty of Africa’s mountains, terrain, and the elaborate clothing that is worn there has never really gotten enough attention and due in Hollywood.

That, along with everything else, was busted with this production.

The bottom-line thing that I felt as I watched this movie was that Coogler (in this case) is doing an excellent job continuing what filmmakers like Spike Lee and John Singleton were doing twenty and thirty years ago.

And of course it needs to go without saying that I’m very much looking forward to the sequel in two or three years.

I’ve got four more words to anyone and everyone who has not seen Black Panther…




The cast of Black Panther, including Chadwick Boseman as  the title character (fourth from right), Forest Whitaker (far left), and Angela Bassett (third from right). Photo courtesy of






Take away the business attire, and this was me in the workforce much of the time, especially my last six years there. Photo courtesy of



My pronounced lack of success in the workforce – specifically working for someone else – was so large and varied that I had to write two chapters in my upcoming book, WALKING ON EGGSHELLS, in order to properly describe all the incidents.

These following excerpts cover the failures I had as an employee from 1999 to 2008, when I quit my last job and left the workforce for good after having what (I think) was my third nervous breakdown.

Here’s the first excerpt:

The autism spectrum part of all this was that due to my need to do my own thing and my not being able to humble myself and see bosses as just that – rather than equal partners – every one of the six jobs that I subsequently had over the next six years would end the same way that it did at Farragut, with me either being fired or forced to resign.

This especially manifested itself in the next major job I was hired for, a place called Westside Bay School*, located just a few miles from my house that ended up really affecting me negatively as I became more disillusioned from my experiences there than any job before or since, for one particular reason:

It was a non-public, special education school geared toward children with Asperger’s and other parts of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In other words, Westside Bay School was geared toward kids who behaved similarly to me as a young-un.

This led me to having a big sense of optimism upon getting hired as a PE instructor (technically an aide, like at Farragut)  there in August of 2003, because this was a place where I cold be a real role model, where I felt I could have a positive impact on the students.

I had no way of knowing that my ten months at Westside Bay School would be almost nothing but a nightmare.

And I also had no way of knowing that it would end up being the overwhelming reason I would not be comfortable around autistic people or other Aspies for a while after my time at that school; I grew SO bitter with that place that as I walked through the front doors on my last day, June 11, 2004 (I remember the exact date!), before I hit the sidewalk I turned around, faced the school building, and stuck my middle finger high in the air.

It wasn’t the most mature or professional thing to do, and of course I regret making that obscene gesture, but I hope you understand why I couldn’t help it after describing my experiences there, the feeling that led to me flipping Westside Bay off.





This next excerpt details the trauma I suffered while working at this particular school:


If I’m going to describe everything that went down between me and (my supervisor), I’d better not refer to him by his real name as despite everything that happened, I have enough respect for him to not do so.

I’ll call him Gary*.

I vividly remember the first time that I saw that Gary’s and my relationship was far from what I assumed – it was after classes one afternoon.

Gary came into the little office that we shared and said, “I need to talk to you.”

“What about?”

“High school PE,” he replied.

At that point I knew something bad was going to be said because my ninth and tenth grade PE classes were going terribly, the 9th grade class, consisting around fifteen boys, in particular.

But in my warped mind, I expected Gary to commiserate with me.

Offer sympathy.

Say “Hang in there,” or something like that, like I would do if the situation were reversed.

But instead, he pulled out a piece of paper and read what seemed to be an endless list of “suggestions” to make things better in those two PE classes.

As I write this over a decade later, I completely recognize that Gary was only trying to do his duty as a supervisor.

But back then, here’s what my mind was telling me as he was saying what he was saying:

“This guy’s viciously insulting your intelligence AND your experience!”

“This dude thinks you suck as a teacher and are an inferior human being – why else would he interact with you like this?”

“Who in the hell does this jerk think he is, talking to me that way?!”

All of which led to feelings of sheer humiliation, which in turn led me to see him as an oppressor and an enemy, especially after I mentioned that I had Asperger’s and should be cut some slack and left alone with the mindset of “Oh, he has Asperger’s so anything he does we ought to overlook (which was wrong, I know now), and he answered in what in my mind was quite the condescending tone,

“Well, regardless…” which I interpreted to mean that he didn’t give a fuck about me as a human being.

I felt he was blatantly disrespecting those twelve years of experience, that because I was a “veteran” who had been through the wars I had more than earned the right to be left alone to run my classes my way and to be seen as a completely equal partner in every possible way.

Which I now understand was wrong to think as I failed to see that teaching special education students is not the same as teaching neurotypical students.





This last excerpt is kind of graphic, as it describes having suicidal thoughts:


It was also one of those times where staff would get those “State of how’re you doing” evaluations, which in my view was nothing but a way for the supervisor to tell you how you sucked or, as they put it, “needed to improve” in certain areas.

Which although I have to be fair and say that he did start by listing my good points – was exactly what Gary was doing that afternoon after all the obligatory BS meetings were done, as we sat in the new workout room which doubled as our new office.

I wish I could tell you the precise things that Gary was telling me, but what happened that mid-winter day was so traumatic that my mind has blocked it out.

Except for when, as my brain was screaming how vicious he was in his criticisms, how it was so insulting on an epic scale he may as well have been calling me a “dumb n-word”, he was emotionally hurting me that much; after I said “I’ll try”, in an attempt to placate Gary and concede defeat, he replied in what I felt was the most viciously condescending, drill-like sergeant-like tone that anyone had ever took with me in my entire work life:

“Don’t try, do it!”

I don’t remember what exactly happened immediately after that exchange, but I do remember what I did for what I believe was the rest of that week: stay home and lie in my bed in a deep depression, wanting to commit suicide.

I know this is such because I saw the school’s principal and Diane*, who I had mentioned as one of the leaders, in the principal’s office upon my return a few days layer and either told them I wanted to kill myself, or had blurted it out to Gary during our confrontation and he told them. Diane even asked me how I would go about “hurting myself”, and I answered,

“You know that bridge over Overland Ave., crossing Ballona Creek? I’d jump off of that.”

Apparently I had given this a little thought as I can recall thinking how I wouldn’t shoot myself because it would be too messy.

The overwhelmingly predominant reason those suicidal thoughts were prevalent in my mind was because I was feeling so hurt, humiliated, and oppressed with a dash of condescension by Gary over what had been five months to that point, that I really felt I needed to hurt someone.

I couldn’t hurt Gary, nor did I want to, because I had no desire to end up in prison as part of the proverbial black male statistic, so that narrowed things down to one person…


* = Pseudonyms, not their real names


A decent illustration of how I was feeling for much of my time in the workforce. Photo courtesy of




Random Musings About Black History Month, 2018

Two of the most famous black people of African descent in history, in their only photo taken together. Photo courtesy of the


I’ll be honest, as always…

I can’t really think about anything original to write about to commemorate this year’s version of Black History Month, because I’ve already written a lot about the various topics and issues concerning African-Americans in blogs – mine and others – over the years.

I didn’t want to do what every other blog and site is doing and has done every year at this time and tout/laud the first Blacks to do this and the first blacks to invent that and the first blacks to stand up for whatever oppression.

As important as all of this is,  and as proud as I am over the MANY accomplishments and contributions  that Black people in this country and abroad have made to this world,

To me it’s simply a case of been-there-wrote-that and been-there-know-that.

And I’m sorry, but that’s just boredom-inducing to me.

One thought is prevalent in my mind, however…

It seems that it’s a terrible time to be an African-American right now, what with the President that we have, and all the alt-right movements and the blatant bigotry that has been abundant these past couple of years.

Come to think of it, it seems like it’s a terrible time to be anything but white, male, wealthy, conservative, straight,  Christian, or a combination of those six attributes, right now in America.

And it also seems that until our President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is voted out in 2020 – the way he is and has been to anyone not like him, I’m confident of those chances – things will get worse for people who are not any of the six attributes named.


It’s nice to celebrate Black people of African descent this month, and I completely concur that it will always be necessary to have a focus on Black history – and the history of all people of color as well as women, non-Christians, and gays – every month of the year.

Not just February in Black history’s case.

But I firmly believe that we must also focus on the current realities of the bulk of African-Americans, who rather than having a dream ala Martin Luther King are having a nightmare of pronounced proportions, in virtually every possible way.

We must, once and for all, focus on how my fellow African-Americans who are living in misery, want and need can get out of such.

I have some thoughts on that, but I’ll save them for another time soon.

That’s about all I have to say right now…


I like this picture, for what I hope are obvious reasons. Image courtesy of


TEN YEARS AGO TODAY: Commemorating The Day I Changed My Life And Decided To Pursue Writing

Photo courtesy of



I remember it well;

On this day in 2008, I was in pretty bad shape emotionally.

In fact, I was in pretty bad shape for the past few years, as I was pathetically trying to hold onto my life working with young people in education and sports.

For the previous five years, I was miserably failing at being gainfully employed, either quitting or being fired from every one of the six jobs that I had, ranging from being a tutor in East Los Angeles to being on the coaching staff for a high school softball team, to being a playground aide – a job where I lasted only a few weeks – to my last gig as an after school teacher.

Looking back, it was evident that I was depressed on a fairly pronounced scale, even threatening suicide at one of those jobs when my supervisor was, at least in my warped mind,  picking on me for something.

It all came to a head during that last after school job when my supervisor – a young lady who was half my age – lectured me due to something I did.

Which I deserved in retrospect, but my mind was so messed up over having to kowtow to someone who could have been one of my students or athletes that I felt humiliated, among other negative things.

I fell into SUCH a depression that I stayed home for the next three days, rarely getting out of bed.

Which brings me to that fateful day – this day – exactly a decade ago.

I had finally realized once and for all that the effects of my being on the Autism Spectrum Disorder – having Asperger’s Syndrome to be precise – was never going to be conducive to me working with other people on a daily basis.

Not only that, I had realized that I absolutely was sick and tired of working for and answering to someone else.

I hated having to impress and please people who I honestly felt saw me as an inferior, not an equal human being in my mind.

I realized that I desperately needed my freedom, my independence from being at the mercy of someone else; for that someone else to determine whether you were going to be able to eat, buy clothes, and pay the rent through their employment of you.



Considering all the work I’ve done these past ten years, I suppose it’s safe for me to say this. Photo courtesy of


Which was causing a stress that was quite unhealthy.

And most of all, after remembering how people had told me over the years that they liked my writing and my essays in schools and such, I realized that my talents were in that field and that I needed to pursue that wholeheartedly.

Or forever wish I had.

In short, being an employee was virtually – and perhaps literally, being that I had threatened suicide more than once during my time in the workforce  –  killing me.

I began that February 6th by meeting the softball coach I was under the previous spring at a Carl’s Jr., telling him of my plans.

Then I journeyed to the school where I was working at to take my stand against those oppressors, I mean employers.

To formally quit not only my job, but the “Kid Business” in general, ending my life in working for young people.

To in layman’s terms, tell the overseers, I mean supervisors, at that after-school job to “Kiss my ass” (not literally of course; I had a little more class than that).

And to begin my life as a writer, which I did a few days later when I found a site called and began writing different articles about my experiences with having Asperger’s and other things, which I got paid in royalties for.

Which led me to joining another writing site that paid royalties,

Which, being a sports person who liked to give opinions about such, led me to writing for Bleacher Report and Fansided, helping to start, a sports blog covering my alma mater UCLA, on that network.

Which eventually led me to starting two blogs of my own:, on this same WordPress network,

And this blog.

Which I will have had for three (for SoCal Sports Annals) and four years this July (for this blog) respectively.

Along with working on my book describing  my struggles with being on the autism spectrum in a non-autistic world, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, which I am on the verge of finishing as I have done a fourth draft and am going to do some final editing on one chapter in particular.




I thought it would be nice to include a picture of Charlie Brown’s dog doing his writing here, as I grew up on “Peanuts” and consider it the greatest comic strip of all time. Image courtesy of



In Case You Were Wondering:

No, I have NOT gotten rich from this now decade-long career – FAR from it.

But that’s perfectly OK as my mental well-being has improved in the past ten years since that day I walked away from the “Kid Business”

I don’t pretend that I have arrived as a writer; I’m definitely haven’t had any success on any best seller lists whatsoever.

But one thing is for sure…

By having these two blogs and this soon-to-be published book (by no later than the end of this year), I feel that I’m being more a contributor to society.

For lack of a better term, I feel that I’m more in my niche.

And that I will have left something worthwhile to be remembered by when my time in this world is over – if people care to remember me at all.

Which I think is a big part of living your life.


All Right, Here’s My Main Point:

It all began ten years ago today.

And it wouldn’t be right to not mark the occasion in these Hartland Chronicles of  mine.

Of course it’s my hope and prayer that my life in writing will continue to be fulfilling.

And if it becomes lucrative, great!

But to be honest, making a lot of money was not on my mind when I decided to do this.

It was to become happy in my life’s work – or at least happier.

Which I of course thank God for as I’m convinced He was leading me to this.

It’s been a pretty good ten years doing this writing thing.

I only pray that the next ten years are as good if not better.

Perhaps I’ll work on a young adult novel when “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS” is done and published; I have a few ideas swimming in my head.

I know I’m going to grow and evolve SoCal Sports Annals, as that’s my business for all intents and purposes.

I also know that I’m not where I want and need to be as a writer, and probably won’t be for a while.

But at least I’m not where I used to be those past few years working for someone else, especially mentally.

And that’s something that I certainly thank the Good Lord for.


Photo courtesy of


IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME: What I, On The Autism Spectrum Disorder, May Have Faced 70 and 80 Years Ago

Photo courtesy of


A few years ago I was spending Thanksgiving at a relative’s house, doing the praying and the eating of the turkey and the watching of the football and the typical loving family things that are done  on that holiday.

I don’t remember what it was that sparked it, but as my various relatives – including a cousin with Down’s Syndrome – and I were sitting in the living room, my aunt began to talk about when she was a girl in the 1930s, when children with developmental disabilities like my cousin turned five they were sent to (in the case of the Los Angeles area) the state mental hospital in Camarillo.

And were never seen again, the mindset evidently being that it would be a waste of time for kids on the Autism Spectrum, or with Down’s, or any other kind of mental or emotional disability to be in a world where they obviously (in society’s mind) wouldn’t be able to support themselves or make a living or anything like that.

There were no special education programs in the 1930s, or the 1940s or 50s or even the 60s for that matter, as that branch of education didn’t really come about until the 1970s; it didn’t become mandatory in American public schools until 1975.

As I was listening to my aunt that Thanksgiving night, one thought came to mind…

“That could have been me.”

The way I sometimes behaved as a kid due to my having Asperger’s – in ways that is difficult for me to talk about to this day (which is one reason for my book WALKING ON EGGSHELLS, as it describes some of those incidents at length so I won’t have to talk about them in conversation) they were so extreme, animalistic, and shame-inducing – I’m convinced that I would have been one of those kids taken away to Camarillo for the rest of my life if I were born in 1927 or ’37 instead of 1967.

I’m only grateful that the school I went to in Riverside, CA during kindergarten had a “Special Day Class” where I even though the teachers (one of them, anyway) were rough on me as far as behavioral modification, I was able to improve on my animal-like behavior to be mainstreamed into a regular first grade class the next year – and every year clear on through high school and beyond.

In fact, I used to like to say that I was the only kid I knew who was in both special ed and gifted classes during my K-12 school years; both ends of the spectrum, so to speak.

All right, I know some of you are probably saying right now, “What are you getting at?”


I’m glad that there are so many programs and schools geared toward kids and adults with Down’s and on the spectrum now.

I’m glad that I was mainstreamed, even though I sometimes wonder how my life would have been if I wasn’t, if I spent my formative years in special ed programs.

And even though I sometimes get a little weary of my difficulties in the neurotypical world due to being an aspie, even though things could very much be better I’m ultimately glad that my life has turned out the way it has.

Especially considering the way things are going with too much of our population right now; I’m SO grateful and thankful to God that I’m not homeless or in jail or anything of that nature.

I suppose that’s all I have to say right now.


A nice illustration of how ANYONE and EVERYONE is capable of learning and ultimately contributing to society through education. Photo courtesy of

STRUGGLES IN THE WORKFORCE: Excerpts From Chapter Eight of “Walking On Eggshells”

This seems like a decent image of the hard times I had while in the mainstream workforce. Photo courtesy of



A brief update on the progress of my book, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”:

It’s getting closer to being done!

All ten chapters have been edited for the third (or fourth, I’m not sure) time and been printed.

I just have to go back to one chapter and possibly replace the name of a place where I used to work with a pseudonym, in case such place takes offense at its mention, the way I described my experiences there.

The next step? Getting my manuscript into a sort-of book form at the local UPS store and (finally!) sending it to for self-publication.

As I’ve mentioned on my Facebook page, if “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS” is not in your hands by December 31st of this year, then I will consider myself as having failed at this endeavor.


As For Now…

I thought I’d give another excerpt of the struggles I had as an adult in the workforce due to what I know now stemmed from having Asperger’s.

My (mostly) bad times during those years toiling for a paycheck were so many, like my high school days I divided them into two chapters.

These excerpts are from the chapter I call “Failures In The Workforce, 1991-1998”:


As I obviously needed a job and it was, as Mom put it, “desperation time”, I went in, asked for an application, filled it out at home, brought it back, and a few days later I got a phone call from them saying I was hired. I remember promising Mom that  I would “work hard and do whatever they say”, feeling a sense of relief that I was gainfully employed again and was able to find something relatively quickly after such a monumentally terrible experience at Grant School.

That feeling of relief evaporated like water in Saudi Arabia in the middle of summer as my job as a salesman fast became what I call to this day “The Eight and a Half-Month Prison Sentence”, realizing quite rapidly that working in retail was even MORE of a wrong profession for me than education was.

I hated the concept in retail of “There’s always something to do”, even when no customers were in the store and all the luggage and counters were clean, polished, and stacked neatly.

I especially hated it when, just before the 10:00 p.m. closing time, which was the shift I was always given, what seemed to be a load of customers would come into the store and I would be forced to stay after having been there for eight full hours, gritting my teeth on the bus home and doing everything I could not to scram in anguish over slaving away at that plantation; for the record, it was the only full-time job I would ever have.

And I REALLY hated it when, on a scheduled day off which gave me a most blessed sensation throughout my being the phone would ring and it would be the store ordering me to come in and work because someone had called in sick, whom I would think would be faking so I would be tortured at that personal hell hole; there I’d be, so looking forward to a relaxing day at home watching TV and what not, and I’d be forced back into the salt mines.

And on top of everything else, in the tradition of pouring salt on what in my heart was a painfully gaping wound, there was one other thing that made tat place of retail a maximum security prison hell: A certain co-worker who, like Marlon roughly 15 years before, was a flat-out bully and a word-that-rhymes-with-witch.

I’ll call her Gina*.

(Gina) was short in stature – not quite like Snooki, but in that Jersey Shore girl’s league – with pale, pasty skin and long, wavy brown hair. She had an ever-present stench due to her being a heavy smoker, reeking of tobacco as a prominent image of mine regarding her was standing outside of the store with a pack of Marlboros in hand, dirtying her lungs, other people’s lungs, and the air with those wretchedly foul cancer sticks.

I’ll never forget one particular day when she pushed me too far and I snapped, going into one of those meltdowns which are common to at least some folks with Asperger’s…

Gina and I were standing behind the counter next to the cash register. I wish I could tell you what Gina said, but like so many other incidents before and since, I’ve blocked it out of my mind due to the extreme post-traumatic stress that it would cause to my psyche.

One thing was for certain: I was feeling low and depressed and Gina must have called me some bad name or made some bad gesture that pushed me over the edge. I do remember her putting her hands in her ears like Bullwinkle and making a taunting noise after I had told her to leave me alone.



A more accurate illustration of how I felt during my years working for someone else in the workforce. Photo courtesy of



The next thing I knew, I was throwing some balled-up piece of paper at her and she reciprocated by spitting her Marlboro-laden saliva at me. No, I didn’t make any move to hit her – however much a word-that-rhymes-with-witch that Gina was, at least I had enough presence of mind and respect for females to not let it come to that – but it was another albatross around my hellish luggage store neck.

You would think that my experiences at that store would improve by leaps and bounds after Gina was finally fired for her evilness a few weeks later, the owner of the store dramatically pointing at the door and telling her those two words that I so wanted to her for the longest time, but nothing could have been further from the truth as my miseries went beyond that little Lady Voldemort.

That’s why it was a foregone conclusion that I would be relieved of my duties right before Labor Day, though in all honesty they beat me to it because I was planning on marching into the owner’s office right after that holiday and tell my oppressor, I mean employer, those two little words that I had desperately desired to tell him for so long:

“I QUIT!!”

I’m quite positive that many of you are thinking this right about now…

“You should have been glad to have had that job! You were just an ungrateful, spoiled little baby who need to suck it up and grow up!”

I can certainly understand that sentiment, and despite what it seems it’s not my intention to use my Asperger’s syndrome as an excuse for my fucking up at that store – and nearly every other job I had before and afterwards. I know that many Aspies have been successful in retail-type gigs and other professions where service with a smile is required,.

However, I’m about as far as those Aspians as one could get as not only is any gig of that persuasion isn’t any place for me, I knew even before that horrible experience that I was 1,000 times more successful in situations where I was allowed to do my own thing at whatever work I was involved in.

It’s like if I had a little plot of roses growing in this huge garden, and it was my responsibility to take care of those roses in that plot, keeping those American Beauties watered and the ground insect-free.

When an overseer, I mean employer, would criticize me on how I’m doing or micromanage me, he/she is – figuratively speaking – stepping on those roses of mine for what I see in my mind as no reason other than to be a mean bully.

That’s how I felt and, to be brutally honest, still feel. Even though I understand that employees need supervising and constructive criticism in order to achieve maximum performance, I couldn’t, and still can’t help from seeing that as bullying.

That was why I HATED evaluations…at least in my mind, evaluations were always a way for bullies, I mean bosses, to remind me that I was a lesser being in their eyes, which essentially and eventually ruined me as a person with ability to sustain gainful employment as far as working for someone else.


No, this wasn’t where I had such a horrible time but as it’s a place that serves the public, it’s in the same league as that luggage store where I toiled. Photo courtesy of