Saturday, September 27, 2014

Salutes and Handshakes Under Pressure

No, I'm not going full political with this entry. Just partial! A news article making the rounds is about President Barack Obama and his salute to the troops while holding a beverage. Certain people are, naturally, bothered by this development. I frankly don't understand why it's a big deal. President George Bush (II) held a dog during a salute (which wasn't addressed until it became a counteroffensive to this), and the commander in chief didn't even make saluting a custom until Reagan. There are other issues open to criticism of a country's leader, which is why I had nothing to say on the subject. What this piece of "news" does for me, as an Aspie, is realize how easy a slip of conduct can be taken as an insult. That, and how hard it may be to have an autistic president.

The President of the United States has to deal with multiple issues happening at one time. Not that I know what the job is like, but the sensory overload is pretty huge from all accounts. When you're trying to meet with someone over important matters, it is easy for one to be unable to watch his or her candor. I'd have to command the armed forces, task my staff and the Veep with federal departments, and then assist Congress in getting deals done, which can be complicated by the majorities of each party (what every president went through at some point). I relate this differently to being the Chief Executive Officer and being an Aspie, as the CEO tasks are usually insulated to the company itself and the agreements with other companies and markets. Still very complex, but to me it seems more manageable and has slightly less of a public spotlight versus other cases.

Going back to the salute issue, I can relate. There was a moment a few years back where I attended a gathering of spectrum teenagers, and I was one of the panelists/speakers. I had to run out to catch my train at the end of the session, and while rushing out I shook hands with the owners who let me present. My last handshake, with the event organizer, was rather quick as I had to run along; almost as if I slapped his hand away. Apparently one of the people who also joined me was annoyed that I made my handshake so quick. She asked me the next time we met why this was, and quasi-lectured me that they were thankful to put us on. I explained the situation to the organizer in a thank you note, noting that maybe I should have taken a bit more time on my handshake in my mission to catch a train. That being said, I did have my reasons for committing an unintentional faux pas. Thankfully, I was clear with the organizer on my gratitude for the event.

I have had other similar moments in my life where I didn't understand the ramifications of missing a social convention, even down to quickly under-tipping a pizza delivery man. However, this first one comes to mind because the two events seem rather similar in nature. Often we have the main objective in mind, and these social conventions become secondary. Once again, I don't think President Obama is on the spectrum, but it's similar to how we occasionally deal with other things loading our minds. I do not envy the responsibility of being the elected leader of this country. The nervous breakdowns would make for some serious public fodder.

That all leads me to ask, how would a president on the spectrum handle major conflicts?