Tag Archives: request

Franklin Institute Follow Up

A while back I wrote about an attempt to enjoy a sensory friendly day at the Franklin Institute, and how it turned out Very Badly. To sum it up, since it was over a month ago now, I went to what was billed a “sensory friendly Sunday” at the Franklin Institute. However, it turned out that “sensory friendly day” actually means “sensory friendly morning,” but this information is not necessarily readily available. It isn’t even listed on their website’s page about the event. When I had gone into the electronics exhibit, a large tesla coil went off and, well, that was that. It was painful and horrible and completely without warning.

However, a while after I wrote that post, I actually heard from the Assistant Director of Museum Programs from the Franklin Institute! I wrote back asking permission to share her email in my blog but never did hear back, so I guess I’ll just try to sum it up. Her email covered three basic points.

  1. I had complained in my post that there was only one sensory friendly day every two months, which is not much. She pointed out that there is a lot of demand and competition for different programs and events, and they are happy that they can offer as much as they can. And… point taken. Not exactly delightful to hear (it can sound a bit like “take what you can get and be grateful!”) but honestly, that is sorta where I am at the moment anyway. And it IS nice that they are making an effort – not everyone out there is.
  2. She agreed that the electricity exhibit is a problem. “It is an extremely sensory-unfriendly experience, and based on your feedback, we can begin a conversation internally of how to better inform guests of what they will experience.” That’s pretty awesome, and I hope eventually they are able to make improvements. Heck, I’d be happy to contribute to that conversation, assuming I’d even have anything to add or would be welcome.
  3. The next sensory friendly day (morning) is September 13th, which is only two weekends away. She expressed a hope that I would try again, and if so, email her so she could meet me in person!

That last point is the one that I am most bouncy about. Meet an official museum person? To maybe talk about museum stuff? And sensory stuff? just… wow! I haven’t solidly decided to do so yet, but I think I should. Going on my own is still really hard, but if I can find someone to haul along with me, I think I would really like to try.

I’m writing this for two reasons.

  1. This is pretty cool, and I wanted to share. Yay for hearing from a museum person!
  2. I want your thoughts. What do you think of the points raised? Do you think I should try to meet her? If I do, what sorts of things would you like me to remember or keep in mind or mention?

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I could use your help

I posted this on facebook, but only a few of my facebook fans actually see any of my posts, so I’m putting this here too.

I could use your help!

I want to put together a post (which might become a page, if it works well) of various language codes used by general society. Some examples would be the “high, how are you?” ritual, which actually means “Hi, I acknowledge you as a person!” Or one I’ve only learned fairly recently: “I want to get to know you” is code for “I want to get into your pants/date you/etc.” I am from the US, so I don’t know if these are codes in other parts of the world.

Would you tell me any codes that you know, along with their translation, and the region of the world that it’s used in?

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Are you sure?

“Are you sure?” is such a tricky question for me. It’s an area of politeness that I tend to feel quite conflicted about. It hits my ‘this is offensive’ buttons, but it also hits my ‘this is an important aspect of politeness to participate in’ buttons. So I do it, but I kind of feel bad about it.

I learned to ask “are you sure?” in childhood, in the face of capricious generosity. I learned that offers are not always sincere, and it’s better to check than to take them at face value. This is not a lesson I am particularly happy that I learned, but learn it I did.

A while back this lesson was explicitly reinforced by my therapist. Due to the fact that I take the train to my therapy sessions, it is not uncommon for me to get there half an hour early. One time my therapist had a free slot in the hour before my session was to start, so she offered to let my therapy session start early.

I replied, “are you sure?”

She then proceeded to compliment me on the fact that I asked this. She told me that it’s good to check in like this and doing so showed social skills on my part. I will admit that I was dubious about this compliment. I had actually felt kind of bad about asking, and was not prepared to be told that I had done the right thing.

See, asking “are you sure?” is, at least to me, an insult. It is questioning the offerer’s sincerity and requiring them to reaffirm that they really meant what they said. It is implicitly stating that I believe they may have not meant what they said, which strikes me as an unkind thing to believe. It plays right into the aspects of politeness that actually strike me as being rather rude.

I had a friend who agrees with me on this, and has stated that they have some trouble with the fact that I tend to ask this. From my perspective, that just means that they recognize “are you sure” for what it really is – disbelief in a person’s sincerity. They would rather I simply believe them at face value than question any offer they make.

Honestly, I would rather do that too. I would rather do that with everyone, all the time. Always questioning if a person actually means what they say is tiring and frustrating, and I resent doing it. I resent the way offers and requests are often switched around in phrasing, I resent passive-aggressive ways people sometimes make requests, and I resent that I cannot always believe people’s offers. However, while I can try to keep in mind that this friend in particular makes a point to be sincere in their offers, I cannot forget that most people do not.

When it comes right down to it, I seem to live in a culture of insincerity. A culture that makes heavy use of phrases like ‘let’s do lunch!’ A culture where it’s normal for a person to make an offer that the recipient is meant to refuse, but ‘appreciate the thought.’ While there are other aspects of politeness-via-lying that I can opt out of with minimal social consequences, this is not one of them. I feel obligated to play along, however much I resent it. However much I am disquieted by my own disbelief in other people.

Much of this politeness-via-lying seems to be wrapped up in cultural insecurity around offers and requests. People seem to put so much effort into obfuscating givers and recipients in any situation outside of ritual gift-giving occasions. It is something that, try as I might, I have yet to understand. So instead, I opt out when I can, and do my best to play along when the consequences of refusing to play are greater than I can (or want) handle.

But really, I wish the social protocols made more sense.

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