I wasn’t going to blog today, despite things not being great, but they got worse in the last hour of work, although not hugely bad (trying not to catastrophise).

I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, then fell asleep and overslept. I had a weird dream, which I won’t go into here, which left me a bit unsure of what, if anything, my unconscious was trying to tell me — possibly something negative about myself, but probably just that I have mixed feelings about my religious community, and that I know someone in a position of religious influence who makes jokes that someone in his position should not make, both things I’ve known for a long time. Or maybe it was just a crazy dream that didn’t mean anything.

Work was slow today. It took three cups of coffee, a sandwich and two cups of tea for me to feel alert, by which time it was afternoon. But things were going OK until the last hour.

J has a habit of asking me to do something and then piling on more and more things. This can be a task (“Do X. And Y. And Z.”), but in this case was a phone call with more and more things to say. When he does this, I often don’t realise a long list is coming, so I’m not ready to write things down, then there’s a rush to try to catch up with him or to try to remember everything. I do need to feel more comfortable writing things down, as my memory and processing are not always good. This is undoubtedly an autistic executive function issue. Usually it’s not a huge problem as we’re in the same office so I can ask for clarification, but in this case it was a phone call and I couldn’t ask him for help. I got so flustered on the call, partly from the long list of things to say, and partly because I’m not good on the phone (autism again and social anxiety), that I was not sure if I had told the other person what they needed to do correctly. I also panicked and somehow convinced myself that I didn’t need to say the last thing on the list when it might have been helpful, not the first time I’ve done something like that.

My job isn’t hugely interesting, but I can do most of it after having been there for eight or nine months now (even given that my mind sometimes blanks and I suddenly can’t remember basic things). But I struggle with phone calls and don’t know what to do about them. J is trying to give me more experience with them, particularly this type of call, which I can’t explain here as it will make my job too obvious, but it’s something important that involves government bureaucracy and dealing with stressed, emotional people — not a good mix. But I worry that if the problem is autism, practise isn’t going to make the problem go away. It doesn’t help that there’s a key part of the journey of paperwork between government bureaucracy, our office and various other people that I just can’t get my head around properly, no matter how many times J explains it to me or I re-read my notes. I guess it’s because I haven’t been through it myself and it’s just too abstract for me at the moment. I suppose practise might help here.

I don’t know whether to say anything to J, or, if so, what. I don’t want to sound like I’m not suitable for the job, but I don’t want to monumentally mess something up down the line when I’m in the office without J.


On the way home, J had talk radio on as usual. It seemed a 50:50 split among those phoning or texting in between those who thought it insane and irresponsible that we are coming out of lockdown in just two weeks time (so soon!) and those who thought it insane and irresponsible that we were in lockdown for so many months in the first place (so long!). That’s democracy for you, I suppose. Like most issues nowadays, I have no real idea of what the right answer is and don’t feel myself knowledgeable enough to voice an opinion, but I will be glad if we can safely leave behind some aspects of lockdown, although public transport operators are already hinting at masks remaining compulsory regardless of the advice of central government.


I was pretty drained by the time I got home because of work, the phone call and the journey. I went for a walk in the hope that fresh air and time away from screens would help revive me. It didn’t, but it was worth exercising a bit. I did some Torah study and ate dinner with my parents. I had a long Skype call with E; apparently some screen time isn’t so draining!


A conversation on another platform (Livejournal) makes me wonder whether I left Doctor Who fandom as much because I don’t have time for it as because other fans seem to respond to the programme in very different ways to me these days, not to mention the politics I found on Twitter. I feel like time is a commodity I don’t have much of at the moment and I need to make room for more activities that are being crowded out, particularly fiction reading. I’m thinking of imposing – or trying to impose – some kind of time limit on my blogging and blog reading. I don’t want to give up on it completely, but I definitely need to get more time somehow and to stop idle procrastination. I’ve already become more selective in what posts I read. In the past I used to read all the posts by everyone I follow, whereas now I’m more willing to skip posts on busy days or if people are posting a lot. I enjoy encountering people online, but I enjoy encountering people in books too.

16 thoughts on “Hanging on the Telephone

  1. I’ve been at my job 20 years and still write down what they say because, as you point out, it often morphs while they’re talking to “oh, and then this other thing too.” I also make a list of what to say or ask on a phone call if it’s more than 2 things. Phone calls are unpredictable and it’s easy to forget something. I never thought there was anything weird about writing a lot of things down, but now that you mention it, I do make more lists than the average person… I just find them so helpful!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. When I was in a job where I had to learn a lot of complicated procedural things, I was constantly writing things down, and I don’t think anyone thought it was weird! I really think most supervisors will appreciate that you’re really trying to learn how to do the thing, rather than be put off that you’re not able to instantly memorize all the instructions.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I write down everything! In my case, I’m not auditory and can’t remember lists given to me verbally. Is there a diagram of the paperwork as Ashleyleia suggests or a script that you could follow? (more or less)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Not the same situation, but I always used to bring a notebook and pen to job interviews to take notes (based on reading advice that one should do this), but it never felt natural to me to actually take notes so I never did. The notebook was more of a pointless prop.
    Then, I was hiring for a direct report. I noticed that some candidates would take notes as I was interviewing them…and I loved it! It made me feel like they were really taking the interview seriously and wanted to remember the information.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. In my old job, I had to do complicated government procurement involving a lot of legalese and multiple steps. A trainer for that actually gave each person a flow chart with bullet points of what to do at each step. That helped a lot as I knew I had that chart, although writing all the legalese was still really difficult.

    I made my own flowcharts and checklists too because I’m not particularly detail oriented and I have a terrible memory. Ad for verbal instructions, I always made notes if possible. If anyone remarked, I would be like “it keeps me organised so I don’t miss anything important.” I had multiple people giving me tasks and instructions tended to drag on or have new stuff added in.

    So after I jotted down enough, I’d open a word document to list everything and their steps, with a line for “current status”, then strike off what I’d done.

    Liked by 1 person

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