Sometimes the environment gives me a rude reminder that I have an autistic rather than a neurotypical brain. While I enjoyed last night’s Sugar Land/Stafford Houston Atheists Meetup, once again at Bombay Pizza Co. in Sugar Land, instead of being seated in the main area of the restaurant, the group decided to ask to use the private room. Ostensibly sounds like a good idea. However, this private room was really poorly designed. It was a long rectangle with bare walls and it echoed like crazy. Our people were talking in loud, boisterous voices and the echos were a horrendous cacophony. I sat at the head of the table nearest the exit, next to my friend Nancy. I was able to hear and converse with her, and the people nearest me at the table, nobody else, though in this room even that was not without additional effort (and exhausting). I was initially amazed that the rest of the group could even stand it; why didn’t they moderate their voices accordingly? Then it hit me: because they’ve got neurotypical brains and you don’t. Ugh. It got better when the majority of the group departed and we were reduced to around 5 people, who consolidated at our end of the table. We all were able to speak at normal levels, with pauses, all part of the same conversation.
I had had a much better time of it when we met previously in the main open room of the restaurant. Out there, there wasn’t that horrendous echo. I’m sure we were quite loud then, too, but at least that noise wasn’t reflected back upon us nearly as much as in the private room. I was also disappointed that our ex-Muslim contingent did not return to this meetup. I was looking forward to further conversation with them. Some British people came to this meetup (I picked up on their accents), and had we been in the main room, I probably would’ve tried to shift around to talk to them, but with my sensory overload in that private room, that just was not going to happen. The service was agonizingly slow last night as well, so not only was the noise overwhelmed, I was tired and hungry and generally irritable besides. I did my best to smile and luckily was with longstanding HA friends. I hid my irritation and sensory overload, though I did complain to Nancy about the echo, which she agreed was bad. Nancy said the room should’ve been designed better, with tapestries on the wall to dampen the noise, and better seat design (Nancy used to work in the restaurant biz herself). If we schedule another meetup there, I do hope we stick to the main room going forward.