One of the questions on an autism test I took several months ago was if I found it easy to do more than one thing at once. That didn’t require more than a second to answer. I am usually cool, calm, and collected when I am performing ONE task at a time. If I have to do more than one, my chances of making a goof go up tremendously.
On my job as a substitute teacher’s aide, I once had morning crosswalk duty directing pedestrian and car traffic. How did it go? There was a famous baseball player called “Dizzy Dean”. Well, that nickname would have fit me that morning.
I had done crosswalk duty at other schools, but it wasn’t something I had a heap of practice at. I always have a problem doing something I only do once in a blue moon. After all, practice makes perfect or almost. No job training or helpful hints were given by the sixth-grader who gave me the school-issued “STOP” sign. If it was only the incoming traffic I had to focus on and direct, it would have been a breeze. But it doesn’t work that way with crosswalk duty since a crosswalk exists for on-foot traffic.
Pedestrians were coming from two different directions with parents bringing their kids up to the front door and then crossing back to their awaiting cars. I had to watch the cars coming towards me and the foot soldiers to my right and left. Needless to say, my neck got a workout. Then there was the challenge of correctly holding the stop sign in front of cars or pedestrians depending on which one I wanted to stop. Sometimes I got confused and fortunately, the drivers figured it out themselves.
There was the added challenge of having to make decisions on the spot as to when I would stop pedestrian traffic to keep car traffic from backing up too far and vice versa. I must have done okay and didn’t want to wait too long since I didn’t get angry stares from either drivers/pedestrians and above all, no honking horns.
Although my brain isn’t wired to keep up with all these multiple tasks, I survived crosswalk duty without any fatalities or near misses. Crosswalk duty is a lot harder than it looks. I imagine it is challenging even for those who can juggle multiple tasks at once without blinking an eye. Me? I just aim for survival at the crosswalk.