The ridiculous thing about the story I told the other day is that the incident described is a manifestation of something I'd previously established: that when faced with a stressful bit of socially performative communication, I defer to the other—even if it means agreeing to something that will be even more stressful, or even damaging.
It was a central part of how last year's vocational rehabilitation job placement process went so bad, so quickly. I don't know why it didn't occur to until today that this was an example of exactly that. Or, rather, an example of managing to avoid exactly that.
What was different?
For one thing, the ways in which this cropped up during my job placement all involved dealing with an authority figure of one sort or another, someone who could determine the course of my life in direct and profound ways.
The other day was “just” an interaction with a server at a restaurant, a dynamic playing out on a much more level field.
I've written before about how there are many situations, when you have an autistic brain, that go stimulus-reaction-response before you even know what's happening. Typically cases where the number or intensity of stimuli is high, where aspects such as dealing with an authority figure or being in a small, suffocating room exacerbate the situation.
In less stimulus-heavy cases, such as simply waiting to be seated for breakfast at a local cafe, there's room to breathe between the innate reaction and the outward response, and time to breathe means time to think, and so time to make a conscious choice.