Autism, Roommates, and Judging Characters.

“People with Autism are not always great at judging people’s characters.”

This was said to me last Monday by a therapist (not mine) when I asked for hints on how to deal with a situation I saw building with a roommate of ours. He gave me some tips, told me something I already knew but needed reminding of. Really helpful, actually, as best as he could be.

Well, I never thought of myself as being a bad judge of character but after what happened today, I may have to rethink that position. Maybe I *am* one of those autistic people who do not judge character well. I should’ve listened to those around me who were trying to warn me, especially my husband. Next time, I will. If there is a next time!

We use an agency that provides in-home care. We have our personal care attendant (PCA). Our insurance companies cover the costs of this help (also receive weekly nursing care, etc) because we are physically disabled to the point of being unable to do certain chores, including cooking and cleaning. PCAs also assist with bathing and running errands.

Last year, my husband and I were talking about our spare rooms we have. There are two of them. One of them was my office. The other was… ummm.. what was it? Oh yeah, a laundry sorting room. Actually it was a bedroom, but that’s what we used it for after my mom and step-dad got their own place. So,  we were discussing how to use the space in our house most effectively for us.

We thought about being foster parents. After all, we have the room and there are kids out there needing a good home, ya know? I have talent with special needs kids, wouldn’t that be great? Well, reality is, we physically couldn’t take more kids on. They’d be short-shrifted.

Well, we need help around here. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we have roommates? We could offer a deal: 10-15 hours a week worth of work in exchange for the room. Help with yard work, little household fix-up chores, etc. That sounded like a plan but we never went through with putting an ad out or nothing because the lady who was working for us as a PCA ended up needing a place to stay.

Her name was Misti and I thought she was really nice. She started working for us and on her first day we loaned her gas money to run our errands. This is a big no-no by the agency. One of their requirements is that you keep enough gas in your vehicle to ensure the ability to run our errands. Well, we did it not knowing that, and feeling bad for her as they do not reimburse them for mileage.

The next day, she showed up to work and her husband and three kids were out in the car. This was during the summertime last year when it was at least 100 degrees outside. Are you kidding me? I’m not gonna make some kids stay in a HOT car while you work five-six hours!! I told her to bring them in. She said that’s against agency policy and she’s not even supposed to have them in her car but she didn’t have no place for them to go for the day. They’re bored at home. As if they’d be more excited about sitting in a car?? Really?? Whatever. I told her I wouldn’t tell; go ahead and bring them in. I’m worried about them kids in the heat.

That started a pattern. She not only brought her kids nearly every day, but she started bringing her brother’s kids; her younger (age 12 and 14) brother and sister to babysit while she was working too. I didn’t say nothing cause I absolutely love kids and adored these ones. Yes, they got bratty and whiny at times, but ya know? They’re kids!!

Her husband began taking my oldest son with him to go fishing here and there. She would make us pots of coffee and brings us our cups. I thought the coffee wasn’t in her job description but I was told that’s part of their “meal prep” is to get our drinks for us, too. Whatever. Thought it was super sweet of her. At the end of her day, there’d be time left over and she’d play cards with me on the days she didn’t bring her kids. Rare days, but they happened.

Of course, she never brought food or drinks for her kids (or her brother’s kids or her brother and sister) and I’d offer my food and drinks for them. It wasn’t much… we’re talking soup and crystal light at the most. But still… nice back and forth in my opinion.

Whenever she first got here we had a lot of animals. I mean a LOT. Something like 12 animals. So the house stunk like them and they had accidents in the house. We were trying to get rid of the majority of them but every time we turn around, another one is getting dumped on our property. You face animal cruelty charges if you don’t take care of any animal on your property—whether you want them or not. So, we’d take care of them best we could and find them forever homes. Well, it got out of hand quickly.

I told her, please, if you see a pile of something, from the animals, just tell one of us and we’ll pick it up. Don’t try to vacuum it up (as one PCA did), just let us know. Well, one day I caught her picking some up and I said “I told you just to tell us and we’d get it.” And she said “oh it’s no big deal. I’ve had animals all my life. I’m a country girl. A little poop ain’t gonna bother me none.” And so I let it go.

She worked hard at keeping up with us. She helped me out in areas of the house that weren’t part of her job. For instance, she’d vacuum my sons’ rooms and clean their bathroom once a week and such. It didn’t really take her all that much longer and she always had extra time left over and she said she liked to stay busy.

In exchange for all this extra work, we were extra nice to her. For instance, there were some days she didn’t come to work, for one reason or another. I’d call her in on the phone system anyway. All you had to do was enter codes. She wrote them down for me and I’d do that for her so she’d still get paid even though she wasn’t there working. I felt it was fair of her to ask me to do that.

One day, she told me over the phone her and her hubby, kids, et al were going to a water park. I asked her if the kids and I could come with. She said sure. Then blew me off. She told me later that day that her father and brother ended up going with them, that they didn’t go to that water park cause she ended up not getting paid like she was supposed to and that her brother just wanted a family day. I said “Okay.” That was on a Saturday or Sunday. Later on, her ex-mom-in-law left a comment on my Facebook about her calling her Ex-MIL that day from the water park.  Then, later that week, she talked about loaning money (the same day she allegedly didn’t get paid) to her sister-in-law. That’s when I couldn’t stand it and told her that her MIL told me on Facebook she went to the water park. She teared up and I said it was okay, just don’t EVER lie to me. If she was worried about hurting my feelings, don’t worry about that as I’d rather be hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie any day.

Well, things were going great right along like that until one day she called and asked to stay with us. Whosever parents house they were at, they were getting kicked out of. She told me a sob story of how her mom took her whole paycheck and all of their food stamps and then kicked them out. She had three kids! And a dog. I haven’t seen any shelters for people around here to speak of so I don’t know where they would’ve gone, ya know? So, since Jerry and I had thought of this doing something like this before, we struck a deal.

Above and beyond her PCA duties, she’d cook supper, clean up after, and help around the house an extra 10 hours a week. Her hubby would help with house chores like fixing our swimming pool, or cleaning it, or picking up yard waste, and so on. They agreed. What was my office became their girls’ room. I even sold them a bed that was my youngest son’s bed for a quarter—a quarter she found on our floor. LOL. I went to the furniture place and purchased a bunk bed. I was going to give them the top bunk whenever they moved out so that their son had a bed too.  Her son shared a room with my youngest. They took over the spare bedroom.

Well, from that day forward she really stopped working for the most part. The mess accumulated with five kids, four adults and more animals. She kept up with the kitchen for the most part, but she didn’t do the suppers. She didn’t know how to cook what I bought (I bought meat that didn’t come in a box). She stopped even doing her PCA work—but still clocked in on the phone system to get paid. Jerry, my husband, finally said something to her after about a week of this. She said “yes, I plan on getting back to work. I’m just trying to get settled in and into a routine.” So Jerry dropped it. No biggie, right? Right.

Well, they took my oldest camping one weekend and T had a horrible time and never really wanted to go again but he did go with them during the day to go fishing. Every weekend they were gone to this free campsite to fish and camp out. They’d spend their food stamp money on “camping food” which is basically junk food—Lil’ Debbie snacks and stuff. That next paycheck, they spent it on bathing suits and stuff for her and the kids. I didn’t say anything about it but she had originally told me that they’d not have any more paychecks for the rest of the month. I let it go. She had begun working again around the house so I figured no big deal. I’d cook with her to show her how.  I love teaching people how to cook. It’s fun.

One day, one of her daughters had a birthday and they were throwing her a party at a local park. I went with them and bought a grill, hamburgers, hot dogs, buns, etc. as my part of the birthday gift to the girl. Her brother showed up to stop off and see his kids, including a toddler (who couldn’t walk). I swear that boy had autism or some developmental delay. He was still in diapers, of course. But she forgot a diaper bag. So did the kids’ mom who was also there hanging out. So after the party, we all stopped by the Dollar General, and I bought the kid an outfit and some diapers (they had him in the river and the sun went down and that baby was COLD). They didn’t have a car seat for him so I put him in my van since it has a built-in one that normally I wouldn’t trust but it was better than nothing. But it was a good time.

She eventually moved out into her own place with her husband and kids. We kept the bed we intended for her son because they didn’t have room anyway in their new place. Things were going great for them. Her husband applied for and been approved for disability income because he couldn’t hold down a job due to some health problems I won’t share here. Suffice it to say, he deserved getting disability.

Mind you, during this time I caught her in a few lies. She also had a problem with those energy pills… she’d abuse them. She took EIGHT one day when the dose is ONE. I should’ve seen this coming.

She had her ex-mother-in-law come for a visit one day and she was very nice. She even brought me some books to read.  That entire day was spent with her mom-in-law and I playing cards with Misti while she did laundry. Laundry is in the job description. The kids were with her again, as usual. But as I said I didn’t mind that. But they didn’t clean the front room before they left so my kids had to do it later as part of their chores. We had a good visit and after a few hours, they left (early) and I promised to clock her out.

Sometime after that, I think it was like a week or so, on a Friday, Misti tells me she’s quitting the agency and I’ll be getting a new PCA. I was disappointed because even after all that we were still friends. Good friends, I thought. Well, by the end of the visit (which was just her on the phone making personal phone calls cause I got free long distance, and playing cards and drinking my coffee) she told me she had changed her mind. She wanted to stay being a PCA because while they didn’t NEED the money from her job anymore, she needed the job for her sanity—to get out of the house. I asked her to make sure her boss at the company knew she had changed her mind. She said she would.

The following Monday, I got a call from her sister-in-law saying she had been in the ER the previous night from dehydration. I asked if she was coming that day or not (as I didn’t believe this to be true but rather that she was quitting after all). The SIL said “Well, if she does, she’ll be there. If not, she won’t be.” What the heck does that mean? How long am I supposed to wait? So, in the afternoon I called the agency.

I told the boss lady that I knew Misti had said she wanted to quit but that she had changed her mind but called in sick today after all. Before I could finish, she cut me off and said nastily, “What do you expect after you treat a PCA that way?” and preceded to tell me my PCAs are not there to clean up after MY kids, MY pets, and so on. She’s not a waitress to be bringing me coffee and taking my kids on errands with her, etc. I cried. I couldn’t even talk. I hung up the phone.

I called my husband into the room and told him what went on. I talked to my case manager and told her the truth-the WHOLE truth. It came down to that I don’t keep healthy boundaries. I needed to remember that my PCAs are there to work, not to be my friends. Okay, lesson learned.

Now whenever someone is telling me their life story and I see the same thing happening again and again, I tend to think “Yeah right. Always someone else’s fault and never your own. Why don’t you wake up and smell the coffee?? You can’t ALWAYS be the victim.”

Well, even as hard as it is to believe, and I’d have trouble believing this if someone else were writing it. But it happened again.

We met a new PCA. She seemed really good and nice. Knew her about a week and I started asking if her and her husband were interested in being roommates to help us out. Hubby said “Aren’t you kinna pushing it? Moving too fast?” I told him I was just feeling them out. We’d get references and such first. But it might behoove us to see if they’re interested since they didn’t seem to like living where they were living—with his mom and her boyfriend. Said his mom was always questioning their business, where their money goes, how much they got, etc. Didn’t think nothing of it really but felt kind of bad for them.

Well maybe a day or two later, after they had stayed for dinner with us and played cards with us after work, she called us and asked if we had room for them cause the husband and step-father got into it big time. I said, okay. It was snowing out. That was when we actually got a real snow storm. Didn’t mention dogs but they brought two dogs and a cat with them. I felt they were a good fit because they were kid-less. Should’ve made sure they were animal-less too. But, we let them stay the night otherwise they’d be in their truck in that weather. And he’s a big guy. I mean, big. No way. Couldn’t be that heartless anyway.

So, we had a talk the next day. Struck a similar deal. They donated food to the house ( we let them keep some for just them to buy their own snacks and stuff that we don’t like, etc). In exchange for living rent free he had to keep job searching as he was currently unemployed, and after work hours, she had to do extra work around the house WITH HIM.  They agreed. They took over the spare room. It was… cramped in there with stuff we were storing, so they cleaned it out. We went through it and the remainder we didn’t get to going through sits in our office to this day. Wow, we’re pack rats for sure!

We eventually loaned them a lap top that was old to use to play videos games on, job search, whatever. Also loaned them a TV and hooked up the extra box for their private use in their room, as well. To be  nice. Otherwise, they’d have to wait to use our computers and/or watch whatever it is was we were watching. After the way they acted while we were trying to watch O’bama’s State of the Union Address (talking the whole way through, rolling their eyes, etc), we decided it’d benefit us too.  That was not the original deal, mind you. But we wanted them to have all the comforts they could have and feel welcomed here.

We live in the county and do not get trash pickup. It had backed up on us and filled up our back porch area. Our burn barrel had well… burned. LOL It was beyond usable. So we asked if they knew what his parents did for trash (since they live down the street). They said they didn’t know but they’d ask. Well, not too long later, after running errands in our van for us, they came back and said “oh, by the way, we stopped in at Tractor Supply and those burn barrels cost $85 plus tax.” Okay, that was pricey! No big deal right?

Later that week, her and her husband went into Ft. Smith, A.R. just over the border, about 22-25 miles from here. Turns out, their tags are expired, he doesn’t have a license and he was driving (it was suspended for not paying tickets), and they had no car insurance (or truck insurance, whatever). So he got arrested for all that plus he had a warrant for his arrest… “Criminal mischief—Destruction of property.”

Well, my Pops loaned us the money to get a burn barrel so we could hurry up and get our porch back. We went to the Tractor Supply store and the manager there tells us they don’t carry them, not now and not ever and not likely to in the future. We went to the oil change place and got two. They were $4 each. FOUR DOLLARS. I think they were trying to scam us. What do you think?

Well, when we got back, we told her about the difference and that Tractor Supply manager (who’d been working there since it opened) told us. She said “Huh.” And that was it. We let it drop. Ain’t that some shit? That’s where that catch-phrase came from. I was shocked. Here it is… lie straight to my face, have your husband back you up in it, and when you get told the truth, all you can say is, “huh?” Ain’t that some shit! Funny thing is, by the end of their stay with us, even she was using that phrase.

Well, for the entire 18 days her husband was in jail, her day/night went like this: 1-6 a.m. she was on my computer playing Facebook games. She’d sleep until the middle of the day. She’d get up, sit in my comfy recliner and watch TV until about 10 p.m. or so. Then she’d get online and do something on her game. Then I’d get it back and she’d watch T.V. until about 1 a.m. and then get on and stay on all night until 6 a.m. again. Rinse and repeat.

There was ONE exception to this routine. One of her dogs is a pit bull. They get such a bad rap but it really is the owners who teach them to behave poorly. Ordinarily, they’re pretty good dogs. Jerry was loathe to let her (the dog) stay but he did.  The roomie lady spoiled that dog, even over her other dog. This dog could do no wrong. She’d yell at my oldest for correcting her dog. She claimed he didn’t do it right and she might turn on him if he doesn’t do it right. Well, Jerry’s thought was, if she has that potential, maybe she shouldn’t be in the house.  My thought was “So teach him or correct your dog yourself.” Well, one day, Thomas was in our office, on the floor, looking as his Wild ‘N’ Weird Creatures cards. The dog kept getting in his face, wanting to play. He kept saying the dog’s name and pushing her away from chewing on his cards. Finally, he’d had enough and yelled her name and pushed the dog away really hard. Unfortunately, right into the glass of our fireplace. It didn’t break, but still.

Both myself and roomie-lady saw what happened. She yelled at Thomas. Jerry yelled at her. His back was turned and didn’t see what T had done… but he yelled at her “Well, correct your dog then. Don’t keep yelling at my son!” Well, that pissed her off. She didn’t get it. The point was this: you won’t let him correct her when she misbehaves, then correct her yourself. It doesn’t matter what that dog does—she never corrected her when it involved my kids. If the dog chewed up something, or wouldn’t come to her, she’d spank the dog. I had bought a large animal crate and told her about crate training. After all was said and done that is. We agreed to teach T how to do it while I taught her. I don’t believe in spanking kids or animals!

But that whole day she was pissed off. Mumbling under her breath about being “nothing but a live-in maid” and how she would just stay in her room by herself with her dogs except when it was time to do her chores. She had put her two dogs in their bedroom (they need room to run-duh) and they would whine. She’d yell “Shut up dogs. You’re stuck in there. You’re not allowed to come out and BOTHER anyone.” Trying to make someone feel guilty. Don’t know who cause Jerry went to lay down and neither one of us told her she had to make her dogs stay in a bedroom. She did.

Her reaction, or over-reaction, should’ve told me something then, huh?

Little things like that would happen. Her husband wasn’t much better than her sometimes but in different ways. For instance… before she quit being my PCA (because it’s against policy for her to be our PCA, she quit her job, and took over nanny-care for my boys in the afternoon/evening…more on that later), she had worked at another client’s house one morning. Then she came here and worked five hours for us. Then she cooked dinner (if I recall correctly). After dinner was done, she was taking a rest on my computer, playing a game called The Sims. She had JUST sat down. I do mean JUST sat down and got the game to load. Her husband turned to mine and asked, “Would you like coffee?” He said “Oh I would love some” as it was already made. Her husband turns to her and says, “Get him a cup of coffee.” C’mon!! Even sillier is, she got up and did it.

Towards the end here, as I mentioned, I did ask her to stop being our PCA. She could’ve still been a PCA for the agency, but she couldn’t be OUR PCA. But I could tell she wasn’t really digging the job anyway very much. The agency she works for—well, let’s just say has issues. So anyway, she quit and her husband was to keep job-searching. He did put in a lot of job applications. We worked out a schedule where the kids would come home at 3:30 p.m. after school. She’d get them their after-school snacks (for us all really since that was part of our diet). She’d then have them do some of their chores. Bboy took out the trash if it needed it, and T did the kitty-boxes.  She’d then sit with T and make sure he did his homework. I was usually napping during this time because of my medication. Afternoons are the worst for me. 

I’d get up soon after and talk with my kids. Ask them how their day way, etc. She’d cook supper. I told her we HAD to be eating by six p.m. every night because my son’s bedtime is 7. Six p.m. was the latest because he also needed “evening snack” as part of the diet. He needed some time in between meal and snack, plus time to bathe, brush teeth, read before bed, etc. His whole bedtime routine takes about an hour in and of itself. Well, we kept eating later and later. One night, we didn’t start eating until 8 p.m.  That was on a school night!

I remember one night, Jerry got a bit pissy and went to bed because it was almost seven and there was no dinner on. She was sitting in our office watching TV. She got pissy back about being on a “clock’ and how she didn’t like it that other people would get mad at her but she was doing her best and she couldn’t do it all. I didn’t know what to say. I saw both sides. On one hand, my sons and husband need to eat on a regimented status, ya know? Their diabetics. Their health depend on it. For that matter, so does her husband! But… yes, at that point in time, she was doing quite a bit more than she had been. I’d need a day off too. But it blew over.

So, from 3:30 to about 4:30 p.m. she was with my boys.  Between 5 and 6 p.m. she would start cooking dinner. We’d eat between 6 and 7 p.m. She would then help Brandon with his bedtime routine (which, while appreciated, he didn’t really NEED the help. He could bathe himself, brush his own teeth and get dressed on his own. Who cares if his PJ’s were on backwards?) and put him to bed.  This routine also included chores which was picking up the ‘family room’ where Bboy hangs out during free-time playing video games. Boys also unload the dishwasher after supper  (from what the new PCA does during the day)and T burns trash for his nightly chores. She would then go into her room with her husband or stay with me in the office/living room to watch TV for awhile. Rest up after dinner. She’d then go into her room and go online for awhile. I’d not see her again until about 2 or 2:30 p.m. the next day. But according to Jerry, she’d come out at about 3 or 4 a.m. and do dishes.  All I know is they’d be done by time I woke up at six or six-thirty a.m. to get the kids off to school. And that’s how the day would go during the week.

Now, our agreement was that she would clean certain rooms in the house in addition to cooking supper and cleaning up after supper. She would clean her own room, wash her own clothes (in our machines of course), she would keep her bathroom clean for guests as it was a guest bathroom, she would help the boys keep their rooms clean and she would help the boys keep their playroom and family room clean. By help, I mean by vacuuming it as they’d pick up any messes on their own but they’d need dusting and vacuuming. Well, instead of doing that during the week every night, she chose to do it on Saturday. She could’ve done it any other day if she wanted to but she said it was part of her routine no matter where she was living. She’d get up and cook everyone breakfast and clean all day. So I said okay. I don’t care when she did it!

She did that for two weekends. These past two weekends not counting the Saturday I’m writing this. They’ve been here for… two months? Thereabouts anyway. And two Saturdays out of all those days, she’s actually done this.  The first Saturday she even cleaned out our fridge. I was impressed. Of course, our office/living space, dining room, bedroom, and bathroom weren’t done cause our PCA takes care of our living space areas.  Delicious breakfasts, too. Fattening and not good for diabetics, but tasty! She did take the day off on Sundays, as we all do to respect the Lord’s Day of rest.

Okay, so that’s about how it goes. Of course, there is the arguing. She argues more than my niece ever did! She argues more than a person with oppositional Defiance Disorder does! My word. She actually argued with a 41 year-old man who is our friend about who is a bigger slut. I swear to Gosh from the land of Golly-Gee!! Who argues about that?? Seriously? For one, he has 20 more years of getting-around experience anyway and for two… that’s what you want to be known for??

Then, she argues with our new PCA about who smokes the meat up at the BBQ place near our house. Even when the PCA says she has family working there, this girl continues to argue with her. She argues with me about legal stuff (and then has to admit I’m right), she argues with my kids! Of course, T likes to argue himself so they’d go at it all the time. Debating… bickering… whatever ya want to call it. They’re doing it.

That was one aspect of her personality that I couldn’t stand. You knew she was bullspitting you. You knew it. She knew it. She knew you knew it and she still did it. What the heck? When confronted with those types, I often let them talk to the wall. I don’t care as it usually doesn’t matter to my life. It’s usually about her past, such as where she’s worked, how well she’s worked for someone, etc. It’s all talk. I let it go. I guess that should’ve been a clue too.

Well, earlier this week, we had to tell them they had until the end of the month to get out. The problem is, if we have live-in help for our kids, the person or person could help us too. We’d lose services. Didn’t want that to happen! Nor did we want to take advantage of the ‘system’.  We were just trying to help out some people and ourselves in the bargain.

Well, sometime this week, she mentioned how she’s not trying to make nobody happy no more cause she can’t do it and they’re gone at the end of the month anyway, and she needs to spend her time searching for jobs and somewhere to live. I let the comment pass as it wasn’t technically directed at me but at her husband. They were in our office area.

My husband suggested a certain management company that rents houses and apartments in this town. That’s when we were informed “oh, we can’t rent from them. We owe them like $5,000 in damages from when me and my old roommate trashed the place cause they were evicting us. “ My jaw dropped.  Here’s why.

The criminal mischief/destruction of property charges? They told us they stayed in Fort Smith and had a slumlord of a landlord and the place was falling apart when they moved in. She said the landlord was claiming damages for what termites did to the doors (which she claims they told him about) and damages that weren’t them, such as graffiti on the wall. Well, it came down to her husband being held legally responsible for that stuff because his name was still on the lease when the landlord claims he saw the damage. They never gave notice; they never took their name off the lease; they just left, according to them. According to them, they let a roommate stay one more day and HE did all the damage. They were letting him stay there even though they knew he had a drug problem, etc. and that he did all the other damages they were now holding her husband responsible for.

And now, come to find out, yet ANOTHER apartment got damaged? She CLAIMS there were issues with the apartment and they withheld rent until the landlord fixed the problems. But, instead of fixing the problems, they were served with a ten-day notice to quit.

I know this area of the law—especially well. Some parts due to my sister who worked in this area for non-profits and organizations protecting tenant’s rights. Yes, you can withhold rent if there are problems that the landlord is responsible for and not fixing. However, the rent MUST go into an escrow account, and then if you get served with eviction papers, you go to court and prove you wrote to the landlord about these problems BEFORE withholding rent and that you notified the landlord BEFORE withholding that you would be doing so and why. And you better have that account statement proving you have the money in an escrow account.  If the judge finds in your favor, the landlord has to fix up the place and you can stay. If he doesn’t, you have to pay all that rent anyway and still move out.  That’s the way it usually goes by law. Sometimes tenants are fined; sometimes the landlords… but pretty much cut and dried. She tried to argue with me about this!

So, now I know what happened to that first place!

Well, yesterday, they left to go to court for him on those charges.  They came back after the kids had gotten home, shortly thereafter, about 4 p.m.  I had already started the boys’ afternoon routines (chores, homework, exercise outside, etc). It was challenging for me because I had to skip my meds which keeps chronic pain away in order to be up to do this but his court date was important.  They were in their room and I noticed I had taken our status on the internet down to 32%.

We have satellite internet. We only get a certain amount of internet per day. MBs worth of uploads and downloads. Every time you open a page, it’s uploading/downloading internet. That costs us status. We have a meter on all the computers that tell us what is left for that 24 hour period of time, except for the lap top we loaned them.  

I have a download manager for a game and I had accidentally un-paused it and didn’t notice until I saw the status. I sent my youngest to go tell them that the status was 32%. Katie came out to apologize for using so much and I explained to her that it wasn’t her or him but that it was me and what had happened. She realized the time and ended up starting dinner. It was around 4:30 p.m. A good time to start! I was quite pleased actually. Was afraid she wasn’t gonna keep up on her end of the bargain cause she knew I was mad at her from the previous night’s disaster and her earlier comment about not going to work so hard to please other people.

You see, she ruined another pot of mine. A $45 pot of mine. This after her husband ruined our $65 toaster… by trying to cook a grilled cheese in it. And she had almost ruined another 10 qt dutch oven pot of mine  the week before. And then another pot on Thursday night/morning.

See, the week before she was gonna “show me” how to cook Mexican rice (is that different than Spanish rice?).  She was gonna one-up me on the Spanish rice dinner I made the week before that. I ran out of Sazon seasoning and didn’t use enough so it came out a little blander than normal. Sue me. It happens.  Well for some reason, her rice wasn’t cooking. We were waiting for HOURS. Turns out, we later learned, that she was using whole cups instead of half cups measuring cups. Well, she gave up on it and had gone to her room and the rest of us had sandwiches that night. It happens, right? Well, later on, I noticed she forgot to turn off the burner! Burned rice right into that pot! We had to soak that pot until I washed it tonight (Saturday night).

Now, Thursday night, I don’t know what she was trying to make, but Jerry told me she put cheese in the bottom of my non-stick pot, turned on a burner and went into her room and didn’t come out until the smoke filled the air. She burned my pot beyond fixing. I had to throw it away. I swear, I thought she did it on purpose. Who puts cheese in a six quart pot, turns on the burner, and walks away? What was she trying to make? Nothing else was in the pot apparently. WTH??

But yes, when I woke up that morning, I was upset about the pot. I was running out of pots and no money to replace them. But I wasn’t THAT upset about the dang things. They are just things after all. Oh yeah, her dog also chewed up my husband nebulizer cord so he has no way to do breathing treatments and right now we think he has pneumonia. Not good. Also, my son’s biological father gave him a GameCube the week before he died. Their dog chewed up the cord on that, too :-/ As I said though, these were just things.

Now, before her husband went to jail they would often use up all our internet status. To the tune of $75 on last month’s internet bill for example. Tthose restore tokens are expensive after awhile!! You can purchase “restore tokens” for $10 each or 3 for $25. The company does give you one free token a month. We warned them that if they did it again, they’d have to pay the $10 to restore it. This was before she quit her job.

Well, my son sat down at my computer about 5 p.m. and said “oh wow, we’re restricted!” I was like, “what?” and Katie was in the kitchen cooking, heard him, and came in and asked too. I told her “Go tell him (meaning her husband) to get off the computer, now.”  Well, we checked our company’s website and got the time it went over status. None of us were online at that time. I was in my recliner doing my mending; she was in the kitchen cooking, my youngest was in the play room playing video games on a console that does not even have access to the internet, and her husband was in the room when it occurred. Katie later claimed that when she “barged” into the room, her husband wasn’t even on the computer.

After dinner, she returned to their room. My husband got our internet restored. He told me he planned on restricting access to the internet via the router to that laptop because he was sick of this going on. I asked if he planned on telling her, and he said he would. She came out of her room later to make brownies for dessert. She wanted to wake the boys up so they could have some. I said no, because people with autism need to stick to their routines. No matter how late they stay up, they’re going to get up at the normal 7 a.m. and then being unmanageable the rest of the day. She understood and asked “Can I feed it to them with breakfast?” I laughed and said okay.

I went and laid down for awhile. When I got up due to night sweats, he told me that she had come out and asked if the internet was working and he told her he restricted them and why. That if it made her feel any better, he also did it to my son’s computer as well that’s in his room. She told him that was unfair.

I thought everything was okay but as she was cooking something in the kitchen and I went into the kitchen and she said “I really think Jerry’s being unfair. He’s punishing me for something I didn’t do.” I said “I don’t know what to tell you. I know WE didn’t do it.” That’s when she told me her husband wasn’t even on the computer when she went in there and if he had been, he’d have been busy clicking things closed. He was on Real Player which had already downloaded videos to it and doesn’t take internet status at all, she’d told me. I kind of shrugged it off as “Don’t know what to tell you.” And went back to lay down.

I noticed the computer on the table. He told me how she’d reacted—not kindly. She had brought the laptop out because they might as well not use it since they could only use it after 1 a.m. (during free internet access time) and they go to bed at 2 a.m. Jerry had asked her how could she when she’s up doing supper dishes at 4 a.m.? She went storming in to her bedroom and a few minutes later came back out and accused my oldest of stealing her last $10 out of her wallet.  We’re talking minutes after her finding out and not getting the restriction lifted, all of a sudden… my son stole her money. She demanded, and I complied, that we wake my son up and ask him if he took her money and to search his room. Of course, we didn’t find it. She claimed her husband had caught my son in her penny jar before but she didn’t tell on him because it was only pennies, after all. Thomas, my son, told me that never happened. I believe him.

She returned back to her room after her $10 didn’t turn up. I had Jerry hook up the lap top. I checked all the machines in this house. All of them. I was able to ascertain that at the time the status went over (from the hour before to the hour after) no one was on any of those  computers online. I tried to do that with the lap top but the settings were set to delete after exit. So, couldn’t check that one for definitive proof-but as process of elimination—if the other computers have history and it doesn’t show—it makes it more possible that he did in fact do it. Right? Right.

I went to bed. I woke up at 11:30 a.m. or so this morning. She was in the kitchen, cooking eggs. It was just for her and her husband, Robert. Nothing for us even though it was Saturday and her “routine” to do so. No biggie.  My kids had had their cereal. My husband and I went hungry. We do that a lot when we’re not feeling well. Jerry, who was already awake with the kids since I get up early M-F with them, told me she must still be pissed off cause she hasn’t said a word to him and stuff. I said “whatever.”

At 1:30, two hours later, she comes out and cooks them lunch. Burger patties. Greasy, nasty things to make! But I was surprised cause they had just ate. She still hadn’t cleaned up last night’s dinner dishes and here she was, making more, for the second time that day. I thought, “Okay, she wants to make a point.” I told my husband she was making lunch now and also informed him if she STILL doesn’t do those dishes, I’m going to speak up to her and if she didn’t like I was going to tell her to leave, in not so nice words. He agreed.

Apparently, my son T was eavesdropping and heard me say that to him from our bedroom door. I didn’t know. He then went into the kitchen and said something to her while she was cooking.  I was sitting in my recliner, relaxing after having done some laundry, and standing up talking to hubby. I was wore out. My son said something along the lines of “I think my mom would like it if you’d clean up after yourself today” And she replied “I’ll talk to her about that and besides, I don’t do shit for people who treat me like shit.”

First all, don’t swear while talking to my son. He has a bad habit of his own with those words that you KNOW I’m trying to curb him of. Secondly, you should’ve stopped at “I’ll talk to her about that” and been done with it. He doesn’t need to be involved, even if he did involve himself.

I started coughing somewhere in there and didn’t quite hear everything. I had a really bad coughing spell and couldn’t catch my breath. I got up and went to my desk to find my inhaler. My husband must’ve heard me because he also came out to check on me. My son came over to me. I asked Thomas in writing, sicne I couldn’t stop coughing, if she said blah blah blah (I wrote it out as above). He said “Yeah, she did” and nodded vigorously.  I then wrote to my husband and told him what had transpired. At some point, she had come into the room and stood in front of my recliner, putting it between her and I.

She said, “I don’t think I’m being treated fairly. I work my ass off for you, taking care of your kids to the best of my ability, and I don’t think it’s right of you to punish me for something I didn’t do.” My husband tried to explain to her again what was going on. It wasn’t to PUNISH her. She’s not a child. We weren’t taking away privileges to punish so much as we were protecting ourselves from an internet bill like we had the last month. We *are* on a fixed income after all.

Well, Jerry couldn’t get that out though. She kept talking over him. She talked over me. Finally, she said “I feel y’all are taking advantage of me and Robert…” and that’s when I lost it. I totally lost it. I open up my home, ask her to work 2-3 hours a day, and *I* am taking advantage of HER? Really?  I said, and I quote, “Well, if you honestly feel that way, grab your stuff and get the BLEEP out.” I said a few more things that I don’t recall so exactly but basically gave it to her. Told her she’s lied to us, we know she’s lied to us, I can’t trust her to tell the truth, and she needed to get out.  Now.

So, she did. She packed them up. By this time, our voices were raised and her husband had come out and sat at our dining room table, which he could see us from there. There’s no walls in the way, in other words.  Jerry told him what had been going on, what the argument was about. Robert said he’d go talk to her since she’s obviously overreacting. Well, apparently that didn’t work because they left anyway.  Jerry did go tell them that if there was any damage like they left in the last place, he wouldn’t hesitate to press charges.  But we left them alone to pack.

I came to my computer and put up a status about all this. I was beyond mad. Jerry was shocked at how mad I was and if the WHOLE truth be told, if I was physically able to, I would’ve decked her in her face for saying WE took advantage of her.

That internet usage was NOT part of the agreement. The laptop and TV was NOT part of the agreement. We could take it away any time we wanted to or not have given it to her in the first place. I had already told her the previous night that Robert could use my computer to search for a job during the day. The only thing we asked was that during the status time was that they use one of our computers in the main living area so we can keep track of who was doing what when. I still don’t think that was unreasonable of us. I really don’t.

Oh and the taking advantage of? Mind you, they didn’t have jobs, okay? No income whatsoever. She had had one more paycheck after they moved in, and they spent it on doggie grooming stuff and other junk.  They’re smokers. Guess who supported their habit? You betcha! I did only buy them roll-your-own tobacco and filters though. Can’t afford anything else! But she would bum cigarettes off of me if I had any store-bought cigarettes. Even if it was my second-to-last one, she’d still want it. They had use of our vehicle, since there’s wasn’t legal. See, it turns out the person who sold them the car wasn’t the legal owner.. . always someone else’s fault, never theirs.

You know, there were lots of things that we did for them, big and small. And I have a huge heart. I love helping people. I get a kick out of it if ya really wanna know. It makes me feel good to make other people feel better. I can’t explain it. It just does a heart good to be kind to others. Yes, I got some benefit out of it this time. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I thought it was a fair enough deal. And we were going to let them live rent-free even after they got jobs, if she kept helping. Just so they could save money. I didn’t think we were being unreasonable in any of our requests. We didn’t push her when she didn’t do a dang thing for 18 days. We didn’t push her in any sort of way really, until we put our foot down that is, about the internet. And the time we pushed her about not letting her dog rule our house. And both times? She overreacted.

After they left, she called from his mom’s house. She asked if she could return for their vacuum or I could pay her for it. I said she could come and get it any time. I didn’t care. I hung up on her.  When she got here, she tried again talking to us. Or Jerry tried talking to her. I’m not sure as I was at the dining room table, folding laundry, and pointedly ignoring her. If I didn’t, I was afraid I couldn’t keep it together and not wail away on her. I was trying to be an adult about it all. Trying, I said, trying! I was still quite upset, ya see.

She said what she was mad about was her missing money. Jerry reminded her we didn’t take it. She said, no she wasn’t saying that. She was saying that maybe our YOUNGEST son had taken it out of her checkbook, out of her wallet, and played with it and lost it. He’s got a more severe form of autism, and yes, if he found money lying around, that is something he would do. NOT if it was inside a checkbook flap, inside a wallet. He doesn’t go through things. That’s not his way. Jerry tried explaining that to her. Then she said “No one was remorseful that our last $10 went missing!”  *jaw drop*

No one was remorseful? You weren’t remorseful when you ruined two pots. You weren’t remorseful when your husband tried to use a toaster (not a toaster oven) to make grilled cheese. You weren’t remorseful when you removed the finish off of my ceramic stove-top by scrubbing it with a Brillo pad because supper spilled over because you weren’t paying attention. You weren’t remorseful when something my son’s dead father gave him got ruined. You weren’t remorseful when my husband’s breathing treatment machine was ruined. You weren’t remorseful that you ran up our phone bill accepting collect calls from your husband who was in jail. You weren’t remorseful when your husband kept using up our internet causing us $10 a pop. You weren’t remorseful about crap. Why? Because it was never your fault, right? That’s pretty much what I said to her then although a little more poetic now. She took her vacuum and left.

The previous Monday to all of this, a therapist told me some people with Autism get easily taken advantage of. He felt we were being taken advantage of by our roommates. That perhaps I should have listened to Jerry about them as he was uncomfortable with this situation from the start. He told me I should trust those around me who love me and treat me well when they say something isn’t right about a situation. I may think I’m smart; and I may be book-smart, but I am not street-smart.

He said people like me, people with autism, often have a big heart and good intentions but often find themselves in predicaments because they are not good judges of character. We have a tendency to see the good in everybody and always want to give them a chance, and second chances. And third chances. There are people out there without autism who are like that, too, but he has found in his time of working with those with autism, that most of those he treats have that problem.

I have learned my lesson. Again. I won’t say I won’t ever help a body out again. I’m just not like that. But I will listen next time when my husband, or my father, or my friends, or my other family members tell me I’m making a mistake. I’ll at least take the time to consider that they just might be right and I might be wrong. For once. Well, I may not always be right, but I’m never wrong.

Tonight, after I finished cleaning up all those dishes (took me hours), I got a call. Caller ID said it was the Motel 6 here in town. I answered it. It was her husband, Robert. He said Katie had left to go get ice for his foot, and he wanted to call and apologize for his part in it. The using of the internet. That took us over our allowable status. I told him, we didn’t really have a problem with him at this point. It wasn’t him screaming at us that we victimized him, after all. That was what our problem was. He said he didn’t want to burn any bridges with us. He wanted to remain friends with us. Another friend of theirs paid for their hotel room for a couple of nights.

He said that he had told Katie he wanted to remain friends with us but that she said “Fine. Do whatever you want. But I’m not. They took advantage of us.” He also said she told him when she came to pick up the vacuum cleaner, that we threatened to take her to court for the damage to our floor and the above-mentioned damage to our things. The word “court” never came out of our mouths. Not once.  I told him that.

I also said, that I knew she had done damage to the apartment that he went to jail for, just like she did the one she told us about here in Sallisaw or wherever it was. That she’s going to continue costing him friends and his relationships with his family until she gets psychiatric treatment. She knows she has a mental health problem (she told me the name of the one she was diagnosed with), and he knows it too. The proper thing to do was to get her to a shrink and put her on meds for it. Although, I wasn’t so nice in the way I phrased it to him. I’m not a big advocate for medication for any problem. But there *are* certain mental health issues that one just knows that needs medication as well as therapy to treat. She has such a one.

He agreed with me and then had to go cause she had come back into the room with the ice for his foot.

You see, early in the day today, sometimes between their breakfast and lunch, he had fallen through our kitchen floor’s soft spot. We all knew it was there. Anyone that comes in to our house, no matter how many times they’ve been here before have been warned about that spot. We haven’t been able to get anyone to fix it yet. So, we warn people not to step on the soft spot. I guess he stepped wrong and stepped on it and fell through the floor. He hurt his foot doing so. I feel sorry for the guy.  I’m sure that had to hurt like crazy.

He later called back. He asked if I knew where they should go for emergency housing. I told him Monday morning go to the local DHS (Department of Human Services) and tell them at the window that he and his wife are homeless and need shelter. They should be able to help him.

I sit here and shake my head. I have no doubt she put him up to that call in an attempt to guilt trip us. I have no doubts whatsoever. She often does that to get her way. She makes the person she argues with feel guilty in an attempt to get her way. I’ve seen that before. I recognize it easily. It isn’t going to work. They aren’t going to smooth this over no way no how.

They would’ve had to move out anyway. I’m just glad now that it was sooner rather than later.

And, I may not always be a good judge of character but if Jerry and I ever consider roommates again, I’m getting references.


4 Responses to “Autism, Roommates, and Judging Characters.”

  1. March 13, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Wow, that was longer than I meant it to be!

  2. March 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Yes, it was long — but you DID have a lot to say…

    I’m glad you got it all out now, honey. You have a bad habit of keeping it all inside and making yourself miserable.

    And no — no matter how “sorry” either or both of them are, we are NOT going to let them back in, not even until the end of the month. I wouldn’t trust her not to try and get ‘revenge’ on us, so now that they are gone they can stay gone…

    • March 13, 2011 at 9:40 pm

      You’re right. I couldn’t believe they actually called this afternoon asking to stay until the end of the month. I didn’t even consider the revenge aspect to it. I should have. But I was just thinking: “Hey, no one wants you to be taken advantage of, Katie, and since you believe you were taken advantage of in this home, you can stay gone.” Okay, I wasn’t that polite in my thoughts, but you get the gist.

      I hate to say it but i did bring this upon us and for that I’m sorry. I will listen next time, dear. I love you!!

  3. March 19, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Thank you so very much for posting this… Absolutely LOVE it!! Wish there was a way to “fav” individual posts on WordPress, would definitely favor this post.

    All the best, A
    check my site

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