I wanted to share with you an event where I displayed a staggering amount of literal thinking. Even now, I look back and think: Did I really do that?
My neighbour, a very organised, tidy person, was having a clear out and kindly asked me if I would like a big unit (a long, wooden cabinet she had used for her TV) that she had in her living room. I went over to look at it and realised it would be too big but she was so excited about me having it and keen for it to be taken, that I felt I couldn't refuse. I didn't know how to refuse, you see and didn't want to upset her.
Also, she said if I didn't take it, she was just going to chop it up and take it to the dump. I thought, in that case, it won't matter if I end up getting rid of it.
She dropped it off a little while later. I made sure it was the wrong size before deciding to get rid of it. Yes, too big, so out it would go. I called the local charity shop and they came the next day.
I was worried about them coming and me not being ready for them so I prepared by taking the unit out into the front garden (it was summer). That way, I couldn't fail to be ready as the unit was already outside. I covered it with plastic and left it there.
The next day the charity man came and, when he saw the unit in the garden, refused to take it. He said they never took things that had been outside. I explained it hadn't rained and was covered with plastic but he refused and left.
Now what? I had this big unit and nowhere to put it. I couldn't take it to the dump, it was too heavy, Then I had a light-bulb moment.
My neighbour had told me she would chop it up if I didn't have it so why didn't I chop it up and get rid of it that way?
Pleased with my solution and sure it would solve the problem, me and my son set to and chopped up that unit. It was hard work but we really enjoyed it. Before too long it was lying in an impressive heap, shards of wood sticking up to the sky, splinters littering the grass.
We burned it on the bonfire and had a nice time. All done and dusted.
A few days later my neighbour asked me what the unit was like in my living room.
'Oh, I had to get rid of it,' I told her, 'it was too big.'
She already looked worried. 'Get rid of it?' she asked. 'Did you send it to the charity shop?'
'No, they wouldn't take it after it had been outside all night,' I told her, only vaguely registering her mouth open in surprise. 'So I chopped it up,' I finished.
Her mouth dropped. In a choked voice, struggling to keep her voice low, she said, 'Chopped it up?'
'Yes,' I said, 'like you were going to do if I hadn't taken it.'
'That was a good unit,' she said, looking stunned.
'Mmm,' I agreed, not sure what to say. 'But you were going to chop it up,' I reminded her.
We went our separate ways and for a while my neighbour avoided me and our conversations were stilted. Looking back, I'm impressed this was all that happened.
When I relayed the whole thing back to my mother, wondering why the neighbour had been so strange about it, my mother explained that the lady had never intended to chop up the unit - she only said it so that I would take the unit and not feel like I was accepting charity.
With this revelation in front of me, I replayed all the events I've described, imagining my neighbour's horror when she realised what I'd done to the unit she had enjoyed for so many years and had expected me to enjoy. I was mortified!
I never tried to explain to her my reasoning as I'd acted in good faith, based on my straightforward (but very complicating) aspie nature and my belief that she really was going to chop up the unit. In hindsight, it seems funny that I would believe she meant this, but at the time she said it, I thought it was true. It really can be that simple!
You'll be pleased to know we did get back onto good terms and I'm a little more careful these days when people say surprising things that seem to be true. My first thought is often: Is this the same as that chopped-up unit?
If I'm not sure, I ask my mother!
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