Despite my introverted and asocial nature, it’s nonetheless true that I enjoy having regular haunts even if my interactions there don’t tend to deviate from the basic social scripts of pleasantries and ordering.

This afternoon when entering my regular coffeeshop where I go to sit outside and read amidst downtown St. Johns, immediately after exchanging pleasantries the barista launched into a series of unintelligible noises. Stymied, I asked them to repeat themselves.

What I realized after was that they very well could have repeated verbatim what they’d already said to me, but my brain would not have recognized them as being the same sounds. My autistic brain was on autopilot, and the deviation from the script meant quite literally that some aspect of its language centers were not in a ready-state for novel input.

Such novel input encountered, some part of my brain needed to “spool up” in order to engage off-script by having them repeat what they’d just said. Reticulating those splines took moments, but nonetheless this need for transition time was very real and quite evident.

Autistic scripting can be a bit like an actor coming “off-book”, in that we can get to the point where executing the scripts comes automatically and with little in the way of active resource usage. The problem (not that it’s actually a problem, per se) is that we can be so “off-book” in this way that sudden improvisation can throw us for a loop.

For what it’s worth, the specifics here were the widespread Square outage that’s knocked point-of-sale systems offline and temporarily rendered the devices paperweights and the establishments “cash-only”.

Still, I did get my latte, because I’m just enough of a regular to be able to make up for it by paying double the next time I’m in.