Work and Connections

One of the strangest things I have been told is, "You're liked by coworkers."

Several supervisors have said this. Each was trying too hard to make a claim that didn't reflect my reality — and it was/is a claim that didn't concern me as much as it did them. It seemed important to the supervisor, oddly enough.

In all but one or two instances the statement was not true. Even if it were, I wouldn't care about being liked at work. Work is not a social space for me, or it becomes too overwhelming. Work needs to be apart from other things. I'd rather be respected and treated with some deference as an expert in my field. For some reason, though, my supervisors have considered it important to tell me I was/am liked.

No, I'm not liked. Tolerated, maybe. Accepted, to an extent. But I am not "liked" by my coworkers in any special way. "Liked" means something more to me than people getting along in a workplace or at school. Being collegial is enough, yet that doesn't even feel quite like what I have in a workplace.

I'm fairly certain they don't give me much thought on a daily basis. They are not my friends, only my coworkers. One or two coworkers are closer to me than others, but we do not socialize, email back and forth, or have some sort of "connections" that actively extend beyond the workplace.

People meet and date and form bonds at work. I don't want that, generally. I want to work. Please! Let me work and leave me alone unless there is something I must do.

The only exception to this view was when my wife and I owned a bookstore. For some reason, I believe a bookstore should be different. A bookstore is like a shared living room. Books should bring people together and be discussed. You know its a good bookstore when employees stick around to drink tea and play games. But, we all know what has happened to bookstores.

I miss the bookstore. It is one of only two workplaces I miss.

The other workplace I miss is the computing center at my undergraduate university. I miss being surrounded by all the cool technology — especially the library robots that would retrieve archived data. (For an example, see I'd peer through the windows and watch the robots scan the rows and rows of cartridges. Beautiful. It's hard to describe. A perfect dance, better than anything humans could do.

They were the perfect coworkers. The robots didn't like me, but I sure enjoyed them. No socializing, no demands to understand each other. Just doing what was needed to get the job done quickly and efficiently.


  1. Just wanted to let you know I commented on your blog post:

    BTW, I see you lived in Minnesota. I currently live there. When were you here?

    1. I read your post and appreciate the point it makes. I am updating A Spectrum of Relationships to expand the workplace section, which does include advice on navigating the social settings. However, the sad reality is that toxic workplaces — of which there are too many — are nearly impossible for autistics to navigate. Toxic social spaces are difficult for everyone, but I find I must leave them or my health suffers.

      We left Minneapolis a year ago for Pennsylvania. My dream remains returning to my native California at some point, but in the current economic situation choices are more complicated. I do love where we live and don't mind staying for many years, but family is in California.

  2. We must be each other's tools and get the job done, the job being survival.


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