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

If a Company Can’t Even Accept Dreadlocks, How Could It Ever Accept Autism, Bipolar Disorder, and Other Forms of Neurodiversity?

I just came across this story about a woman who was denied employment because she had dreadlocks. I find it notable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the EEOC deemed it worth taking to the Courts back when Obama was President, but rejected my own (autism related) case under President Donald Trump. But perhaps most significantly, the story reminds me of yet another of MetLife’s dirty little secrets:

MetLife Has a “No Hats” Policy.

cute_baby_with_hat_315x210NO HATS??? That’s right, MetLife employees are in violation of the company grooming policy if they wear hats during the work day. It’s OK to wear them to and from work, apparently, but if you’re caught sporting a fashionable beret or deerstalker while working, you can be written up for violating the company’s dress code.

With the dreadlocks case, the EEOC tried to argue along the lines that dreads were commonly worn by African-American people, so discriminating against dreads was effectively discriminating against African-Americans, and the Courts rejected that approach because dreadlocks are a choice, while being African-American is not a choice.

But I think another argument could be made based on the premise that company policies against trivial stuff like dreadlocks and hats gobble up limited policy-enforcement resources that would be better invested into enforcing the company’s policies against discrimination. The idea here is that if a company is wasting its limited policy-enforcement resources on hairstyles and headdresses, then how on Earth can it hope to enforce more important policies, such as those that prohibit discrimination against, say, people with Autism, Bipolar Disorder, etc.

dreadlocks-business_woman_315x210I don’t remember if MetLife discriminates against people with dreadlocks, but I do know the company discriminates against people who like to wear hats. Perhaps if the company could be persuaded to allow hats (dreadlocks, etc.), it might subsequently become more tolerant of the neurodivergent…

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

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)

White Men Go To Jail Sometimes Too, Don’t They?

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Image Credit: Shutterstock

It’s been a week since I publicly confessed to stealing a laptop computer in protest of what’s actually the second time in the past year or so that a company has fired me illegally for being autistic. Here I wish to confess my astonishment at the fact that I haven’t been arrested yet.

Folks, what the hell is going on? I’m pretty sure this is a felony I’ve committed here — a cyber crime. Heck, it might even be an act of “lone wolf terrorism” for crying out loud! Isn’t somebody going to waterboard me?

Yes, yes, I’m a white man, of course, but still — surely at least some white people go to jail, don’t they? What about — what’s that one guy’s name? Who was that?…he was white, for sure. Dang…what was his name?

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Anthony Hopkins as the fictional character Hannibal Lecter in the film Silence of the Lambs. Image Credit: MGM Pictures

Oh, right — Hannibal Lecter! There, see? Sometimes white people do go to jail. But of course that guy ate people. Must I actually eat someone in order to be held accountable for my actions? Would my victim also have to be white? Can I at least use a condiment — perhaps some honey mustard?

What if I just chewed for a while on some of the guy’s toenail clippings, would that count?

Just spittballin’ here…

Anyway, keep in mind please that the computer in question also happens to be loaded with all kinds of customer data that is protected by law — Social Security Numbers, etc. My newly ex-employer cannot just go around letting people access this data willy nilly. And yet, at this very moment I can both willy and nilly all I want with this data. I could go into it right now if I wanted to, look at the data, run my fingers over it, cover it in whipped cream. Sexy, sexy, data! Ooh, baby, yum!

sexy_mouth_strawberry_cream_315x210Heck, I could have your own birthday and Social Security Number on there, by which I mean you, yes you — the particular she or he reading these words right now, whoever you may be. My ex-employer’s database is enormous. Heck, I’m pretty sure Elvis is in there somewhere. I might have Elvis Presley’s Social Security Number on this damn laptop.  And if I have Elvis’s data, why not yours too? In principle at least I could use this data to steal your identity. I could go out and get a fake passport, birth certificate, credit cards etc. with your name on them and run around the country committing all manner of mischief in your name. Oh, the nasty numerologizing I could do to your Social Security Number — if I were so inclined (which I am not, lucky for you).

But that’s the least of it really, because this company’s database is so freaking huge — I mean we’re talking a sizable fraction of a billion customers are in this thing — that it just so happens to have the names, birthdays, and Social Security Numbers of all of the individuals who conspired to get me fired from MetLife last year, which is to say the first time in the past year or so that a company has illegally fired me for being autistic.

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Another example of a white man who went to prison.

How’s that for irony? First these people fire me illegally, and then somehow I get lucky and find a job working with a database that is so huge that it actually contains their own protected data!

But for me, really the most deliciously ironic part of this irony is that I’m actually in possession of this data for for the very man who organized and led the charge on that event, which, by the way, was such a coercive ordeal for my family and me that I now feel entitled to refer to it all as a form of gang rape, even though nobody ever touched me physically, and indeed it all mostly happened via Email.

That’s right, I now have the Social Security Number (birthday, etc.) of Seyfarth Shaw Partner Frederick “Fritz” T. Smith (pictured, right) — a.k.a. “Batman“, a.k.a. a man who raped me (yeah, yeah, “so to speak”).

But it’s been a week since I confessed all of this, and I’m still walking around free. Shouldn’t I be in jail by now? Is White Privilege really that powerful?

 

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”

 

 

Please Stop Using the ‘Going In A Different Direction’ Pretext to Fire People: An Open Letter To Anybody’s Boss

Dear Anybody’s Boss,

Please do not ever again fire or otherwise deny someone employment under the tired old pretext of “going in a different direction with this role” (or any of its cousins, e.g. “internal restructuring”, etc.)

Of course, definitely do not use this pretext to fire someone illegally, but especially if you really do need to let someone go for a legitimate and non-discriminatory reason, then especially in that case, please do not use the exact same pretext that a criminal may use to fire someone illegally without detection.

In short: please do not let someone who would commit such a crime use you as cover for their misdeeds.

Especially because you are not a self-righteous, pathologically ignorant, insecure, and sanctimonious bigot; and especially because you revile the criminal acts of those who commit such crimes; especially because you truly are a good person, then please, please do not ever allow yourself to be mistaken for a common criminal by using the exact same pretext that they use.

Please, please let that be just their thing, so that it will eventually become just a polite way for them to confess that they are firing someone illegally, and eventually used in a court of law as such.

I thank you in advance for your consideration of the above.

Sincerely,

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