I know “trust” is a word of almost utmost respect. But having said that, I think you have to earn both things. If I do not know you, I do not trust you therefor I do not respect you as much as I would if I did know you. For me, that takes some time. Now is that to say I do not trust or respect people? No, of course not. There are people I trust with my life and more. My girlfriend is a prime example of that. Allie is my muse and I know I can trust her with anything and everything. I know she will support me in what I do, and if she doesn’t, she will at least hear me out. My family? That kind of goes without saying. I think you are almost obligated to trust your family members. They can lose that trust and respect, however. Granted, it takes a lot to lose that, but it can happen.

Weird as it sounds, the one person I trust most in this world isn’t a person at all. It’s my dog, Dixie. Why do I trust my dog over the people I trust most in this world? Simple. Dixie is my dog and I know she will not pass judgement on me. Dixie loves me regardless of what I do and she will not ever leave or disown me. I could tell Dixie I had just murdered my whole family and she would give me those big, brown “I love you” eyes. (JUST TO CLARIFY: I HAVE A CLEAN RECORD! I SWEAR!) As long as I keep petting her and giving her belly rubs, Dixie is my partner and my best friend.

One of my best friends is a Baltimore City police officer. I have known him literally my entire life. He is more than a friend to me. He is like a brother to me and I trust him. I can talk to him about things, joke around with him, and just be myself.

A lot of times, especially at work, I feel like I have to adopt a persona. I can’t be my “real” self. I can be myself to an extent, but I can’t let loose like I would if I were out having a beer with one of my friends, or even at dinner with my family at home. I mentioned trust and respect sort of, kind of go hand-in-hand. I want to retract that a little for work. I respect my bosses at work. They are “work friends” and not “friend-friends”. Like, if I come into work on Monday and my boss asks me how my weekend was, I have to keep it appropriate. I can get away with saying, “It was good. I went out for a drink and hung out with my girlfriend.” That’s fine. BUT I know damn well I can’t say, “Oh man! It was AWESOME! Allie and I went out drinking, get wasted and I got laid.” Hell, I am not even sure I would tell one of my best friends that. Mainly because I respect privacy.

I’d probably tell my friends I drank over the weekend. Don’t we all? But if I come into work on a Monday going, “Oh God! My head!” and telling my bosses or co-workers I am hung over, odds are I’d be out of a job real quick.

My boss at my advocacy job put it perfectly. I was at a meeting with my boss and some co-workers. One of my co-workers said he was honored that he got to work with his friends at work every day. I said, “I consider them ‘work friends’ and not actual friends. There’s a fine line there.” So my boss goes, “Tom, we are friends. You know any of us would gladly come to any of your comedy shows if you invited us…but there is a difference between saying ‘Do you want to come to my open mic’ and ‘Hey guys. Come to my open mic and we can go for dinner and drinks after.’” BINGO! My boss hit the nail right on the head with that one!

Actually, during one of my hospital trainings, my boss introduced me as “my friend, Tom Whalen”. I was speechless. I thought we were just close as boss and employee. Having said that, I was and still am, so incredibly honored my boss counts me as one of her friends. But again, I know it’s a professional friendship. I can talk to my boss about important stuff, sure, but I can’t call her and go, “Hey, do you want to meet for a beer tonight after work?” That’s a big no-no!

So in closing, I respect and trust my friends. As for my ‘work friends’…I trust them, sure, but not as much as my “real” friends. I like to think I have a good rapport with my bosses and co-workers. We are all so close. At my cleaning position at UMBC there’s not that many of us there, so we really do look out for each other. As for my advocacy job, every single stinkin’ one of my bosses and co-workers either have relatives that are on the Spectrum or have a developmental disability, or have a disability themselves. That’s why I love that job! Everyone there “gets” Autism and developmental disabilities in varying degrees and we can fire off of and learn from one another and create relationships based on that common thread.

So I want to hear from you. Who or what do you trust and respect most in this world? (Hon, I swear to God if you don’t say my name…) Just kidding! What does trust mean to you? Thanks for reading and I trust you will respect me enough to comment!


Author: AuTom Spectrum Blog

I have Autism and am a self-advocate and public speaker. On the side I do stand-up comedy. I live in Baltimore County and have an AMAZING girlfriend