Thank You! — An Open Letter to Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison

Dear Sheriff Harrison,

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Image Credit: Pixabay

I wish to express my gratitude for the outstanding professionalism and humanitarianism demonstrated not just by your Detention Officers at the Wake County Detention Center on Hammond Road and my own arresting officers of the Cary Police Department, but equally for the kindness, helpfulness, and camaraderie of my fellow arrestees and the few inmates I had the pleasure to meet. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting before my arrest, but it certainly didn’t include any of that, and I must tell you that I was quite pleasantly surprised to discover it as part of the overall arrest/booking/charging experience.

Now, before I convey the wrong impression, I should tell you that despite that very pleasant surprise, overall I actually found thoroughly unpleasant the 13 or so hours between the moment the cuffs were placed on me at about 9:00 AM Friday morning and the moment I was finally granted release at 10:00 PM Friday night. Although as it began I was quite curious about what would happen next, it only took about two hours for my curiosity to be completely gratified, and then it all became thoroughly unpleasant. Although the anxiety was fairly mild, the 11 hours of uncertainty and chilly, gelatinous boredom were all but excruciating.

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Although my own jail experience involved clothing, plenty of light, and absolutely no bars whatsoever, this picture does convey the intense boredom I felt for, like, 11 hours! Image Credit: Shutterstock

I tried to transform it all into a kind of meditation retreat, but my meditation skills are sorely lacking. For the most part I was bored, bored, bored. Oh, my goodness, the boredom. If that’s all by design, then kudos to the designers. Eleven hours of sitting or standing around in a jail cell with a bunch of other equally bored arrestees, all of us waiting, waiting, waiting for the next step in the process, or at least for information about when it might take place.

That is actually not a complaint, by the way. I wish to express my gratitude even for that aspect of things. I think jail should definitely not be seen as pleasant. Really nobody should enjoy jail. Of course, nobody should be gratuitously tortured — even psychologically — but I see nothing wrong with boredom, even though I find it very uncomfortable. I actually think perhaps the best time to meditate is when one is bored, so when we bore prisoners, we’re actually giving them a chance to practice meditation, which is a good thing, I think, and could lead to less crime, to the extent that the prisoners accept the opportunity to practice mediation.

Of course, I realize that’s easy to say from the comfort of my own home, but still, as I reflect back on it all, I have to say that I find myself actually looking forward to going back to jail for more of the same. I am actually excited about my upcoming trial, and half hoping that I lose badly. Part of me seriously wants the full Orange Is the New Black experience. Naturally I’d write my own memoir. I even have a possible title for it already: How to Help Save the World and Make An Honest Living as an Ex-Con.

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To be clear: I’m only half-hoping for that. I actually have plenty enough to write about, so the possible 3-months maximum sentence I could receive is definitely not something I really need. And of course there are many ways in which even a brief period of incarceration or a small fine would be extremely inconvenient for me and my family. I’m not too concerned with the criminal record I would have (this is probably an autism thing, but I actually feel proud of my new arrest record, and will probably feel even more proud of an actual convinction record) but I do have two young children whom I love dearly, would miss terribly while I was away, and who would no doubt suffer from my absence. And of course, their mother would suffer too. Obviously, she needs my help to take care of our children.

So…there’s that too. I guess my real point here is that I’m feeling quite ambivalent about the outcome of my upcoming trial. However much I may actually want to lose, I also have a lot of good solid reasons for winning too. I’m not quite sure yet what to make of all that, but I suppose “time will tell”, as they say.

But what I’m not ambivalent about is my gratitude for all that I experienced last Friday as a result of my charges (“Breaking and Entering”), my arrest, and my day at your Wake County Detention Center.

Once again, I thank you, your staff, the Cary Police Department, and everybody else who helped make the day such an amazing one for me — including the inmates and my fellow arrestees.

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”


Image Credit: Pictures of Sheriff Donnie Harrison can be found on the Sheriffs official campaign website.

 

Busted: I Got Arrested Yesterday!

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I spent all day yesterday (Friday) at the Wake County Detention Center in Cary, NC getting booked and charged with misdemeanor B&E. Image Credit: Cornerstone Detention

I have a lot more I want to tell you about this, but for now suffice it to say that I actually got arrested yesterday and spent the whole day in the Wake County (NC) Detention Center getting booked and charged with misdemeanor Breaking and Entering.

The charge is greatly exaggerated, really. Although I definitely did enter MetLife’s new Global Tech & Ops center in Cary, NC (where I used to work before the company fired me for being autistic), there was really no “breaking” involved. The company’s security system there is just so awful that all I had to do was politely “tail gate” my way in behind a couple of MetLife employees who chose blithely to ignore the company’s doomed and ridiculous “no tailgating” policy. There’s nothing at all unusual about the fact that these employees chose not to ask me to produce an ID badge. All MetLife employees at the Cary facility refuse to follow this policy. It’s a total joke of a rule, and in fact, the whole “no tailgating” approach to building security is a fine case study in bad behavioral economics just waiting for some clever innovator to come up with a good nudge to replace it.

[Note: If you actually do consistently follow your own company’s “no tailgating” policy, please let me know in a comment below.]

I have much more I want to tell you about this whole experience, and to show you too because I recorded every minute of what I actually did in the MetLife buildings on my GoPro Hero5 Black action camera. But for now I’ll leave you with this brief video in which Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison gives a nice virtual tour of the Wake County Detention Center where I spent yesterday. In particular, I definitely feel I personally witnessed the kind and compassionate characteristics of the detention officers working there, as Sheriff Harrison describes starting at minute 1:48:

“…It takes a unique person to be a detention officer because you’re dealing with people that’s made mistakes. Some of the people that they see they only see one time, they made a mistake and wound up coming to jail,…but then again there’s people that they see on a regular basis….it takes an officer that’s got to be professional, got to know the policy and procedure, do his job, do it professionally, do it humanely, and treat the person knowing that he is a human being….just like anybody else…..” Donnie Harrison, Sheriff, Wake County, NC (min 1:48)


Image Credit: (Daniel L. Scholten) Busted Newspaper

Agenda: A First Open Letter to the Mysterious Mr. Phicks

Hello Mr. Phicks,

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Even though it makes it seem cool, this is not intended as an endorsement of smoking. Nor is it a picture of the mysterious Mr. Phicks. Image Credit: Pixabay

Thank you for accepting to continue our conversation later this morning. I realize that now that I’ve given back your client’s laptop, this is all basically volunteer work for you, so I want to do want I can to make it worth your while. Toward that end I will sketch out here an agenda for our meeting, although I hope you will see this purely as a recommendation and feel free to modify it or even just to set it aside in favor of other discussion points that may be more important for you.

  1. For training and quality assurance purposes, I would like to record our conversation and possibly to post either the whole recording or segments of it on my personal blog at autistickish.com. I also wish to write about our conversation and to post what I write there as well. I believe our conversation presents a valuable learning opportunity, not just for the two of us, but for others as well, and I would like to make this opportunity publicly available to others. Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or reservations about my doing this. In order to protect your anonymity (if such a thing is necessary), I have assigned you the pseudonym “Mr. Phicks” and will refer to you as such during our conversation and in my writing.
  2. I’m attaching two documents which I hope to discuss with you. The first is the EEOC mediation agreement I signed on April 24, 2017 alongside MetLife’s contracted Seyfarth Shaw attorney Frederick “Fritz” T. Smith; and the second is the Settlement Agreement that MetLife has asked me to sign last March, 2018 in exchange for $37,000.00. Please note that I have not yet signed the settlement agreement or received any money from MetLife.
  3. Please note as well that in the EEOC mediation agreement MetLife makes at least the following two promises which remain unfulfilled due to the fact that the company fired me for being autistic before they had a chance to fulfill them:
    1. That I would be assigned a new role within 1 to 3 months;
    2. That MetLife would work with my Autism specialist to determine the correct Reasonable Accommodations I needed in order to be successful at my job.
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I know Mr. Phicks is a busy man, but this is not a picture of him looking at his watch. Image Credit: Pixabay

My hope is that the above 3 items will provide us both with plenty of opportunity for an illuminating exchange, but please feel free to suggests other topics you might wish to cover.

I look forward to speaking with you.

Best,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”

 

 


Image Credit: (embedded brick statue) Pixabay.

 

 

 

 

Does MetLife Really Reject Autism, but Accept Man-on-Man Sodomy? — An Open Letter to MetLife Exec Geoffrey Lang

Trigger Warning

Although I do know the basic rules and make every effort to follow them, I should confess here that on occasion I’m not 100% certain that I use semi-colons correctly.

Hello Mr. Lang,

Back sometime before you all fired me illegally for being autistic last year, I remember reading an internal memo in which you publicly declared yourself to be an “ally” to MetLife’s LGBT community.

At the time I understood this gesture of yours to be a sincere and altruistic expression not just of your own humanitarian values, but in fact part of MetLife’s own more general Diversity & Inclusion efforts,

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Image Credit: MetLife blog

and in particular the company’s own public embrace[1] of the increasingly popular but by no means universally accepted idea that a person’s atypical sexual preference and/or gender identity should in no way prevent their being considered and treated as a legitimate human being worthy of the same dignity, respect, and human rights traditionally granted most readily here in the USA to straight white men and perhaps their luckier sycophants, idolaters, and imitators.

But then you all fired me for being autistic — a psychologically debilitating, emotional meat-grinder of an ordeal that was so very harsh on me and my family that I have actually described it as a form of gang rape — and now I don’t know what to think of your apparent “alliance” with LGBT people.

On the one hand, it seems to me at the very least that being such an ally must mean that you find it perfectly acceptable, say, for two grown men to engage in consensual sodomy (a.k.a. “butt-fucking”). Perhaps not during business meetings, of course, but certainly at home in the privacy of their own bedroom (see photo).

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If MetLife can accept the sort of behavior pictured here, then the company should find it easy to accept Autism. Image Credit: Icon Male

Although the acceptance of a male professional colleague’s fondness for “taking it up the ass” (see photo) is for sure just one aspect to your commitment as an LGBT ally, I figure at the very least it is an important one. Surely you’d be the most pathetic sort of ally if you conditioned your support and endorsement of consensual and mutually gratifying homo-eroticism on the promise that gay men stop poking their penises in and out of each others’ “poop-chutes” (see photo, again).

If I’m right about that and you really do think man-on-man sodomy is acceptable, and given that a hefty percentage of the World’s human beings believe fiercely to the contrary that such acts are highly unacceptable, then really you’d have to be petroleum jelly not to recognize the egregious hypocrisy of the decision you all made last year to fire me for being autistic.

Yes, yes, I know. That is not the narrative you want everyone to believe. You want the world to believe it was somehow all my doing — that I deserved to get fired. You want the world to believe that a lone autistic man’s so-called “inappropriate” and “unprofessional” behavior so totally overwhelmed the coping resources of a billion-dollar multi-national insurance company like MetLife, that the poor, defenseless billion-dollar multi-national insurance company (MetLife) had no choice but to sack the lone autistic man (me).

Bullshit.  You don’t even believe it yourself, which is why you all tried (and failed) to buy my silence with $37,000.00 and why your Seyfarth Shaw lawyer had to lie to the EEOC investigators about the facts of what really happened. He had to lie, because had he told the simple truth, MetLife would have gotten caught (with it’s pants down, so to speak).

You guys fired me for being autistic. Period. You know it as well as I do. And I’m not going to be silent about it.

But then, apparently, you’re all totally at ease with a little frolicksome fudge-packing?

You do realize that lots of people think sodomy is just downright disgusting, right? You do know that lots of people — no doubt lots of MetLife customers even — find it positively abhorrent, do you not? You have to be aware that some people find sodomy so very evil that they’re actually willing to beat, torture, and murder gay men in retaliation for doing it?

For many, many people in the world consensual man-on-man sodomy is horribly unacceptable, but somehow you and MetLife are all OK with it. Somehow you and MetLife are OK with sodomy, but Autism is just too much for the company to handle.

Did I get that right? Did I understand that correctly?

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”


[1]For example, here is an exuberantly LGBT-friendly MetLife propaganda video. In my opinion it should be called Bring Your Whole Self To Work, As Long As You’re Not Autistic.

Diversity Acceptance Consultant, At Your Service! — Another Open Letter To The Folks Who Recently Fired Me Illegally For Being Autistic

Dear Folks Who Recently Fired Me Illegally For Being Autistic:

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This is not really a picture of the laptop I’ve stolen, but it does exemplify the kind of excellent care I am taking of the real device. Everyday I take it out for some fresh air and sunshine. Image Credit: Pixabay

First, it’s been a good 10 days now since I’ve confessed to stealing your laptop in order to protest your decision to fire me illegally for being autistic, and I must admit that I feel surprised but fundamentally relieved that I haven’t been arrested yet.

Although I am psychologically prepared to “do the time” for this civilly disobedient cyber crime I’m committing, of course I’d much rather you all just come to your senses and give me back the job you stole from me. But if you really want to send an autistic man to prison over this, well, then rest assured I’m really prepared to go. But in the meantime, every day that I don’t go feels like a gift, and I’m grateful and fundamentally relieved to receive it.

I don’t know what’s taking you all so long to figure out what to do about our predicament, but as long as you’re mulling things over, I would like to suggest a third option — a kind of compromise, really — if it will make things easier for everybody. Basically, I’m wondering if you might like to become my very first paying clients for my new Diversity Acceptance Consulting business.

Please allow me to elaborate:

The obvious (to me) fact that you all fired me for being autistic strongly suggests that despite your company’s being one of the more autism friendly places to work, it nonetheless has some growing it might do with respect to its current Diversity and Inclusion Strategy — especially as this strategy addresses the autism issue, specifically, but probably also the more general issue of psychiatric disability as wellIn my opinion, and I hope you will agree, your company could really benefit from the help of an actually autistic person such as myself — someone who has the skills, background, and experience necessary to challenge your own complacent (let’s face it) and self-congratulatory (just being honest here) status quo, and to lead you all towards greater awareness, understanding, and especially acceptance of autistic people and more generally the psychiatrically disabled as well.

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Again, not your laptop, per se, but yours is comfortable and in the company of friendly and familiar objects. Image Credit: Pixabay

Now, I realize you’re probably skeptical, of course. I know my methods are somewhat eccentric or unconventional. Heck, I bet I’m the only service provider you’ve ever encountered who is actually willing to risk going to prison in order to offer his services to a prospective client, am I right?

But if you know anything useful about autism, you know that if I were truly capable of doing things the way normal people do them, I would have done so long ago. I didn’t choose to be the way I am. Nobody chooses to spend his life with his nose pressed to the glass wondering what its like to be a “normal” person. And nobody should be surprised when an autistic person does something unconventional, eccentric, or just plain weird. If my methods surprise you, then clearly you haven’t spent enough time with autistic people, and that’s a problem I was born to help you solve.

Also, I think if you are honest with yourselves — if you take a good hard look at the facts —  you’ll see that much of my work with your company has already been completed. I’m sure that if you all take careful stock of what you’ve learned about autism in the past few weeks — learned with my help, and, I might add, at great personal risk to me and my family — if you really open your eyes to how you now feel about autistic people (perhaps not me, per se, but at least other autistic people) and especially the whole situation vis-a-vis autism in general, I’m quite sure you will see that I definitely deliver the goods. I’m sure you are now much more aware, understanding, and accepting of autistic people than you were.

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Image Credit: Pixabay

I’m all about customer satisfaction, and oh, did I mention that I offer a 100% money back guarantee?

Yes, that’s right, you understood correctly — a 100% money back guarantee!

Due to the unorthodox nature of the service I offer, for now at least I have chosen to use an entirely tip-based business model. Like a waiter in a restaurant or a street performer, first I deliver my service to my customers for their complete enjoyment, and only after they’ve had a chance to fully benefit from that service do I offer them the opportunity to pay me, with absolutely no obligation to do so.

Yup, you understood that correctly: if you are not completely satisfied with my Diversity Acceptance Consulting service, then you don’t have to pay me a dime. Of course, if you are, say, 30% satisfied, then my hope is that you will pay me 30% of what you would have paid me if you’d been 100% satisfied, but I will leave all of those details entirely to your discretion. The upshot here is that because I’m running a tip-based business with all this, my customers have total control over whether and how much I get paid or not.

In any case, that’s the compromise I’d like to offer you. If you simply cannot give me back my job, and you simply cannot bring yourselves to press charges against me, then how about taking a middle road by becoming my first paying customer for my Diversity Acceptance Consulting business? If you do that, I will still keep your laptop as a souvenir, but you can definitely deduct the cost from whatever you were going to pay me.

I hope that makes things easier for you all. As I said, I am all about customer satisfaction!

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”

Diversity Acceptance Consultant — at your service!

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Image Credit: Shutterstock (colored blocks)

Tilting At Windmills: How To Turn Just About Anything Into A Civil Rights Issue

 

defiance-386x500In my opinion, and especially with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, we all just don’t do enough public protesting, and I suspect it’s because we tend to think that we are just too busy working to pay our bills and to keep food on the table. But this is too bad because the two goals need not conflict, and can in fact be pursued simultaneously and with little extra effort, simply by making a conscious decision to re-purpose into spontaneous mini-protests all our mistakes, bad habits, shortcomings, etc. — basically, all of the ways we might frustrate, annoy, or cause discomfort to another person in some way — and this simply as we go about the ordinary humdrum business of our daily lives.

A few examples will make the general point. Imagine you or others saying any of the following under suitable conditions:

“Defend free speech by farting — often, loudly, odorously!”

“I’m chronically tardy in protest of the Trump Administration!”

“Their armpits stink in defiance of the way animals are systematically abused.”

“What do you mean you forgot to invite me to the party as a gesture of good will toward all sentient beings????”

“Your willingness to just accept that I’m a terrible kisser in the name of Nuclear Arms Reduction is a noble sacrifice for a worthy cause.”

“I have not shaved yet today because I’m hoping it will help raise awareness for diabetes.”

“Let’s all show our disapproval for Trump’s sexist behavior by talking too loudly on our cell phones in public!”

Now, you may find this technique a bit odd, but that’s probably just because it’s such a great idea. Great ideas always seem a bit odd at first, until they catch on and then everybody’s like “wow, that’s a great idea!”

Or maybe you think it’s comical? I agree! Which is partly why I think it can be so effective too. Nothing starts a conversation like a good joke — especially a good fart joke! Jokes always set everyone at ease — especially fart jokes! — and make it easier to keep the conversation on a friendly, collaborative track, rather than letting it veer off into mayhem, murder, or negative attitudes.

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The link between a symbol (green light) and it’s meaning (go/move forward) can be completely arbitrary. Image Credit: Pixabay

One thing to notice with all this is that the link between a given act of protest and the thing being protested can be completely arbitrary. It can be based on nothing more than the occasional need for a good excuse for some random gaffe or foible that might otherwise make you look ignorant, incompetent, or insensitive.

Looking through the examples above, although farting may plausibly be a form of free speech (especially for anyone who talks out of his ass — badump bump!), what’s really the link between animal abuse and stinky armpits? Or between beard stubble and diabetes? None, really, but that’s OK, because the protest is a symbolic gesture, and symbols are often quite arbitrarily linked to what they symbolize.

Consider, for example, that a green traffic light symbolizes that it’s time to move forward through an intersection, but it does so purely by convention and not for any obvious connection between green and forward movement.

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Why does this circle with lines in it symbolize peace? Image Credit: Pixabay

Or notice that only rarely do words have any clear connection to the meaning they symbolize. For example, the word snow itself isn’t cold or white or fluffy, but we have no problem using this word in English sentences as a linguistic symbol for the actual cold, white, fluffy stuff. And consider that the famous peace symbol is just a circle with some lines in it (flowery lines in the one shown here). What does that have to do with peace? Again, the connection between the symbol and its meaning is arbitrary and conventional. So why not take advantage of that basic semiotic principle in order to be more politically active?

In summary, political activism need not be limited to voting or riding 15 hours on a bus to attend a rally in Washington, DC. Virtually anything that someone else finds unpleasant in some way can be re-purposed and politicized into a Civil Rights issue of your choosing.

One caveat: the people that you annoy, frustrate, etc. in this way are probably not going to like that you’re doing it and will likely try to fight back and do their own counter protesting. They may try to trivialize your protest or characterize it as “silly” or “childish” or both. They may try to convince you that you are “insane”, or being “utterly ridiculous” or “infantile” or “irrelevant” or “acting like a complete fool” or making “mountains from mole hills”, a “tempest in a tea cup”, or “tilting at windmills”.

But don’t listen to them. Of course they will say these kinds of things. When they do so it likely means that you’re protesting effectively. Especially if they play the “tilting at windmills” card — that’s when you know you’re doing it right!

What about you? Can you think of any more examples to add to those shown above? If so, please let me know in a comment!

 

 

 

 

Please Don’t Send Me To Prison For Being Autistic Too! — An Open Letter To The Folks Who Just Fired Me For Being Autistic

Dear Folks Who Just Fired Me For Being Autistic,

Please don’t send me to prison for being autistic too!

What’s that you say? “Why would we do that?”

Heck if I know. Why did you fire me for being autistic? What’s your problem with autistic people anyway? Just how deep does your hatred go? Would you actually send me to prison just for being autistic? Do you really hate us that much?

I’ve decided to test this hypothesis. My goal here is to see if you’ll actually send an autistic man (me) to prison simply because he’s autistic. I don’t believe you will, but feel free to prove me wrong.

In order to conduct this test, I’ve decided to simply not return the company laptop you lent me when I started working for you last October. Yup, I’m going to just keep the darn thing, along with all of the protected customer data in contains and to which I still have free and easy access — including the birthdays and Social Security numbers of everyone who raped me last year, all of whom happen to be in your database. I won’t name all of these individuals quite yet, but you can confirm that Frederick T. Smith (CC’d) is in there. I’m pretty sure the simple fact that I know that will be enough to give probable cause to law-enforcement agencies to investigate, and all you folks (or Mr. Smith) need to do is report the crime.

But please don’t do that. Instead, just please recognize that I don’t actually deserve to go to prison simply because I’m autistic; nor do I deserve to be fired for that reason. What I’m really hoping you’ll do is just recognize that you shouldn’t have fired me for being autistic in the first place, and then rehire me back to my job, which was really perfect for me — it was perfect both for my autistic limitations, and it was perfect for my technical skills as well.

Instead of sending me to prison for being autistic, please just let me come back to work.

Sound good?

Let the experiment begin!

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”