Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Autism Diaries XLIII: the fan of fans

J especially enjoyed this year's New Year's parties, making himself the life of the party by interviewing everyone present about their ceiling fans. If he dicovered someone whose fans he hadn't yet immemorialized via digital camera, he'd try to set up a visit. If the person happened to live a house or two down from the party, he'd request an immediate film date. So during a lull at one party J and I, along with Jim, headed over to Jim's house to get some ceiling fan footage. Parties for J, in otherwords, represent present and future opportunities to augment an already vast video library of fans spinning at slow, medium, fast, and reverse.

But what if it turns out that one of your prospective hosts has high ceilings, no chains on their fans, and has misplaced the remote controls?

A week into the new year I came home to a very polite answering machine message from a lady at Home Depot for Mr. ___. Hmm, what is this "spare part" my husband has "inquired about," I wondered.

It didn't take too long to figure out what was really going on, especially later on that day when my friend K forwarded me a message she'd received from J.

(In case you're wondering why J has K's email address, it's because one day I accidently left my gmail open and unattended long enough for J to set up automatic forwarding to his account of all my incoming messages. I discovered this only after he accidentally replied to one of those messages: one from Daddy about taking him to the Eastern State Penitentiary on Halloween. His response when I called him on it: "Don't worry--I only looked at some of your messages.")

Here's J's message to K, with appropriate redactions:

I contacted Home Depot about getting a new remote for your dining room ceiling fan, and he said it was $16 including shipping.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <___"">
Date: 9 January 2013 10:17
Subject: Replacement remote ceiling fan / Reference # ______

Mr. ___,

I was following up with you concerning your inquiry for a replacement remote. I checked with our parts department and the replacement remote is available for $16.00 including shipping. Please contact me directly at _____ if you would like to order the remote. Thanks in advance.


Resolution Expediter- Proprietary Brands

The Home Depot – Store Support Center

Customers FIRST!
J was delighted when I alluded to his message to K. "How did you find out?!" he shrieked, knowing full well the answer. "How did you find out which remote is compatible?" I asked back. It turned out he'd done a fair amount of research, including some preliminary back and forth with K.

"When do you think they will get the new remote?" he asked me.

"What makes you think they care about getting a new remote? They've been happy without one for many years."

"But it's only 16 dollars."

"Then why don't you buy it for them as a present?"

And so he did. He gave me some bills from his bedroom stash and had me call up the number in the email message. Every afternoon after I placed the order, he was ready to pounce on the mail the moment it went through the slot. When the package arrived, he tore it open, wrapped it up with Christmas paper, and wrote up a New Year's card: "I meant to give this present to you on New Year's Day but it arrived late."

He's currently giving K some time to set up the remote, and then he'll be back on her case for a film date asap.


C T said...

That's so cute!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating! He has transformed his personal obsession into a way not only to connect with others, but also to help them with what, from his perspective, matters most. I find that moving. I can't say that my own little obsessions have risen to that level.

Anonymous said...

precious. There are certainly a lot sillier and less consequential conversations at New Year's Eve parties than ceiling fans. He sounds like a very thoughtful kid.

Nancy Bea Miller said...

He's the fan doctor!

Anonymous said...

Yes. Instead of saying that kids with ASD "perseverate," why dont we say they have "grit?" Just kidding. Mostly.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Also--- Kudos on helping him grow into a generous young man!

Anonymous said...

I remember going in to a restaurant with my son when he was about two, still not really talking. Uncharacteristically (he has always loved restaurants, especially busy ones), he became uncomfortable and disturbed shortly after sitting down in his high chair. His mother, grandmother, and grandfather tried to comfort him to no avail. I looked around and finally figured it out: one of the ceiling fans was not moving. I asked the waitress if she could turn on the ceiling fan, and she said she hadn't noticed it wasn't moving. To him it was like a sharp stick in the eye!

It took climbing on a chair to pull on the chain, and as soon as it began turning, my boy relaxed and enjoyed his meal.

As far as I know, neither he nor anyone in the family is autistic. But he still cannot bear a faulty ceiling fan (and I cannot stand crooked pictures).

Well done on your son's part making the world safer for other fanlovers. It's a public service.