My days are usually quite uniform in terms of scheduling and sequence. I have a “condition” called Asperger’s Syndrome, considered a form of high-functioning autism, and that means that I am not much given to surprise. I prefer to know what is coming next, and to prepare for it.
So the day will begin simply. My mother does almost all the cooking in our home. She will rise and prepare breakfast for the two of us, after which we both prepare for the day. I have showered and dressed before the morning meal, and while I am cleaning the kitchen, Mother does the same. Then she drives me to my office in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Questions Answered is located in a former pizzeria in a strip mall on Stelton Road. I leased the space because it was relatively inexpensive and could accommodate my needs, which are minimal. From there, I answer questions for clients when asked, and when the question is of interest to me. The business has been open only three months, so it has been difficult to establish a routine, which is something of an irritant for me.
Still, when I arrive I read any emails that have accumulated overnight and check the voice mail for new clients or established ones who might have a need. Then I begin my research for the day. I rarely contract to answer more than two questions at a time because I must be sure to give each client the attention his or her question deserves. This is part of being a good businessperson and providing a reliable service.
Every twenty minutes I stand up from my desk and walk the perimeter of the office six times while raising my arms above my head. This is done on the advice of a doctor I consulted in order to elevate my heart rate and keep my systems running smoothly. I am able to consider questions while exercising, so my efficiency is rarely tested.
Once I have circumnavigated the office space six times, constituting one-third of a mile, I walk to a vending machine left by the owners of the pizzeria that preceded Questions Answered to this space, and I buy a bottle of spring water. Some of the money will be returned to me when a man named Les arrives once a week to restock the machine and retrieve the coins used to purchase drinks.
The day progresses until twelve-fifteen, when my friend Mike the taxicab driver arrives to take me home for lunch. Mike rarely stays to eat with Mother and me, but he is reliable and will often drive me back to the office—a trip of only seven minutes—if he is in the area when I am ready to return.
I do research and walk the office until five, when Mother usually arrives to drive me home. After dinner, I often watch baseball games on television with the sound muted (the crowd noise is disturbing to me) and, when the season has ended, I read or play music by the Beatles until it is time to sleep.
My routine is quite important to me, but it was recently disrupted rather severely. It began when the telephone rang.
But then, that story has been told elsewhere.
Samuel Hoenig appears in THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD: An Asperger’s Mystery from Midnight Ink, the first in a series by E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen.
Donation: Anyone who buys a copy of THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD on October 8, its pub day, then takes a picture of him/herself with the book or the first page of it on an e-reader should post that picture to Facebook or Twitter and make sure I see it. I’ll donate $3 for each person who does so (up to 100 people) to ASPEN, the Autism Spectrum Education Network here in New Jersey.
About the author
Jeff Cohen and E.J. Copperman are collaborating for the first time on THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD: An Asperger’s Mystery, coming this month from Midnight Ink. E.J. Copperman is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime, and Jeff Cohen has written the Aaron Tucker and Double Feature series as well as two non-fiction books about raising a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism.