Too Much Information

Entry by: Sémaigho

2nd March 2018
Too much information.
‘Without my compass north could be anywhere.’ Said the boy.
Jodi was the boy’s name and he had just checked the compass app on his phone. He knew about navigation; like the equator is situated at 0° latitude, and Greenwich is the Prime Meridian. Mostly he liked to check map coordinates and write them in his red notebook. Mum said it was all to do with him being on the autistic spectrum. The coordinates for the White House are 38.8977°N 77.0365°W.
Earlier he had arrived at the New World Retail Park with his mum. They looked in all his favourite shops.
‘I need to go to the toilet,’ he said.
‘Can you wait until I finish buying shoes, Jodi?’
‘I can go by myself, mum’ he said.
‘Ok, but be careful. Just follow the toilet symbols. I’ll wait here in this shop for you,’ his mother said, trying new shoes.
‘Yes I’ll follow the man pictures,’ Jodi said.
He went across the corridor and down two flights of stairs. Then there was another area with shops. The lights were very bright, and the flashing ones hurt behind his eyes. People were rushing past him. They were too near and it was like they were pushing him. A man on a yellow machine with a flashing orange light came around the corner. The machine made a loud noise as it cleaned the walkway.
There was too much happening. There was a lady walking along, banging her noisy high heels, the ones he had told mum not to wear. They sounded like the time dad was hammering and Jody had to cover his ears and run into the road where a bicycle had knocked him down. He had to stay in the hospital for two days. Dad doesn’t hammer nails anymore.
Jodi put his hands to his ears and ran towards the toilet signs. There was a whole line of signs high up on the wall; drawings of a man, a woman, and a wheelchair. Another green sign had a light and a man running. The man was in a hurry somewhere just like Jodi, so he followed that sign. He pushed the bar on the door at the end. The door opened and he ran into a back lane. He saw white lights and flashing orange ones on a lorry that made loud beep-beep–beep sounds as it reversed down the lane. The driver stopped and jumped out when he saw Jodi.
‘What the hell are you doing,’ he said. He said a lot of other things but Jodi’s head couldn’t keep up, so he covered his ears and danced up and down.
The driver man stood quietly and started to nod his head gently. He held up the palms of his hands and they nodded with his head.
‘It’s OK; let’s relax’ the driver said, ‘I understand. Are you an autistic boy?’
‘Mum says I’m on the spectrum.’ Jodi said.
‘Great,’ he said. ‘My sister has a boy just like you.’
‘I can’t play with him today,’ Jodi said,’ I have to find my mum now.’
Jodi ran between the lorry and the wall out to where the lane met the street. He remembered the rule for when you can’t think because there is too much information.
‘Breathe deep and count to ten.’
After he had counted three times he remembered what he should do. He took out his phone and pressed compass on the touchscreen. When he came into town with his mum the compass said they travelled south, and north is opposite. He would have to go north to get home. He found the compass arrow that pointed north, and he could find the coordinates for where he stood, but right then he just needed to find his mum.
He closed his phone and walked up the street to the corner. He would need to find the 44A bus.
‘Are you going North or South?’ he would ask the driver. Then he would show the driver the coordinates from his red notebook; the ones for the bus stop nearest to his home.
When he went around the corner he saw the entrance they had used earlier. He remembered because there was a robot beside the door, but mum said it wasn’t real. He went inside through the automatic doors. The lights were still too bright and hurt behind his eyes; the smell of cooking hurt his nose and all the noises were still going on. Every time the auto doors opened someone said, ‘thank you for shopping at New World Retail Park,’ and then the loud music continued. The ladies were still hammering their high heels, and a voice roared, ‘buy one get one free.’
He walked towards a man wearing a uniform.
‘Have you seen my mum,’ was what he planned to say, but the uniform came running towards him.
‘You Jodi? We’ve been looking everywhere for you,’ said the uniform.
‘Do you have coordinates for my mum?’
‘Stay with me please’ and the man started talking into his radio. Jodi was about to cover his ears when he saw mum running towards him.
‘Oh, Jodi!’ She said, ‘Thank God you’re all right.’
His Mum only ever says one thing at a time so that’s fine with Jodi.
‘Let’s go for a coffee and cake,’ she said, and this time she took Jodi’s hand.
They sat at the back where the café was quiet and not too bright.
‘The lorry driver has a sister and she has a boy just like me. I might get to play with him sometime’
‘You had me worried for a while, Jodi.’ Mum said.
‘Are you having a nice day, mum?’ Jodi asked.
‘At the moment I’m having the best time ever.’
‘Dad will be pleased.’
‘Why do you say that, Jodi?’
‘Remember? Dad said, “You and Jodi have a nice day out. It will do you good, darling”.’
‘You are so right, my love.’
‘Dad is having a nice day too.’
‘How do you know Jodi?’
‘I looked back at our house and dad was at the window with his toolbox. He waved and smiled at me, and I waved at him. Then he took out his hammer.’
The coffee and cake arrived. It was lovely and quiet and mum just smiled as they ate the nice cake.
‘Thanks mum,’ Jodi said.
Then he took out his small case that contained his red notebook, a pencil and his phone. It was time to get back to recording the worlds’ coordinates.