You ever work with someone on the Autism spectrum only to find out they they seem to obsess over that one thing, that one thing that they just can’t go without talking about that is of far more importance to them than it is to you, that one thing that after hearing about for a while you’ll want to blow your brains out yet you’ll hear us talk about it long after you’ve blown your brains out?
The thing that makes us people on the Autism Spectrum so unique is that we tend to hyper focus on a subject that is of great interest to us to the point that we know more about it than people we’d ever need to. I’d like to refer to this as the “Useless knowledge Phenomenon”. Useless knowledge is exactly what it can feel like to the people hearing all the incessant blabber that we spew. For some it’s movies, others it could be World War II and for others it could be cars or trains so lets start with an example. Say a kid is obsessed with trains, he or she will talk you to death about trains, they will tell you about every type of train in existence and the history behind that particular train. They will tell you all the specs of each train from size to weight and speed. Now well this type of knowledge is great for someone in that field, people who aren’t in that field however couldn’t give a single shit how fast a train goes or what its specifications are as long is it does the job it’s supposed to.
Now a lot of people who know me or think they know me well will automatically assume that my knack is video games or anything computer related. Anyone who made this guess will sad to know just how wrong they are. Yes I love video games and technology and music and have a rather large skill set but there is one thing that I truly obsess over that even my closest friends wouldn’t guess, something I don’t talk much about because I know for a fact it’ll bore the living crap out people and honestly, people barely care about it yet they see them almost every single day if they are avid drivers. People, my obsession is….. Interstate Highways. A very random interest seeing as the most common ones are WWII history, trains, planes, and movies. It’s hard to explain where it started except to say it’s been there for a very long time.
As far back as I could remember I always loved being on a highway and watching it wind and curve and watching the scenery change as I went from one place to another. I was the only kid in the family who ever stayed awake just to watch the road. Around the age of seven I began reading a bunch of my dads maps despite him getting aggravated every time I got into his stuff, I started familiarizing myself with a lot of the roads we commonly traveled and the ones near us. At some point we flew to Florida as a family at the age of eight and I was surprised to see I-95 down there and come to realize later it was the same one from Massachusetts. I then started reading even more maps, I’d grab maps from every rest area we went to and begged my mother to by me the newest editions of Rand McNally maps. I read and read and read until I understood how the Interstate Highway system worked, why highways are numbered a certain way, different types of interchanges (exits), and various other things. I can’t tell you everything about every single highway but I know quite a bit about the ones I travel on the most and the ones I’d like to travel.
My favorite highway to drive on believe it or not is the Mass Pike and when I have a car and money I hope to drive I-90 all the way to it’s western terminus in Seattle. I’d also like to attempt driving from here to Florida (I did the drive with my family twice before I got a license but I’d like to be able to do it all on my own just to say I did). I also want to drive on I-75 and do a few highways in Canada such as Ontario’s infamous 401. I’d also like to drive on the Autobahn in Germany. I also want to drive the entirety of I-5 and explore the west coast scenery and I’d like to travel the south on I-10. I’d also like to do a cross country trip through Canada and traverse the Pan American Highway (A net work of Highways that takes you through Mexico and South America).
There a lot I could put on here but then I remembered I’m supposed to use this post to inform you, not bore you to death but if there is anything you’d like to know about highways that you’ve wondered don’t hesitate to ask, I promise to keep it brief, simple and avoid talking you to death. I honestly do’t understand why we develop these special interests or obsessions. Sometimes they feel slightly useless socially. I can tell you one thing though, You ride with me you’ll NEVER get lost. You can place me anywhere in the country and I can use my knowledge of roads to figure out where I am in an instant.
Every state has it’s on shields for their local roads so it won’t take long for me to figure out where I am. East/West roads are even numbered while North/South roads are odd numbered. The highways are numbered from smallest to largest going from west to east and south to north with the smallest highway numbers such as I-4, I-5, I-10, etc being in the south and the west while the larger Interstate numbers I-90, I-89, I-80, I-95, I-75, I-91, I-84 being located in the north and the east , exit numbers increase going south to north, west to east, Exit 10A on the pike (the one that goes to 146 and route 20) wasn’t a part of the original highway and wasn’t opened until 1998 (Any exit number with A at the end of it that isn’t accompanied by a B as part of an exit denotes and exit not part of the original highway was labeled as such in order to avoid the costly task of renumbering exits). You’ll also notice that in the southern and western states the exit numbering can be a little weird (the exits constantly skip in number for example, you have exit 172 followed by exit 163 without any explanation as to what happened to the other exits in between, this a millage based exit numbering system where each exit number corresponds to the mile marker on the highway so going up, and exit built on mile marker 3 would be exit 3 and one built on mile marker 10 would be exit 10. This was designed to make it easier for the managers of that state’s highway system to add exits without renumbering them but to those who are used to a more sequential numbering system it can be rather confusing. In states like that the number on the exit is never the physical number so when you enter say Florida and you start at exit 382, there aren’t actually 382 physical exits on I-95 through Florida,there are only 130 physical exits but that exit starts on the 382nd mile marker thus is labeled as such and the number is marked in relation to it’s location on the highway and just like normal exits the increase in number as you go north and east but decrease when you go south and west. 128 in Massachusetts used to be its own road before I-95 was build into it when the Interstate Highway system was green-lighted by Dwight Eisenhower, those who drive in Worcester don’t realize this but I-290 was supposed to be built into Boston and would’ve been a toll free alternative to the Mass Pike but the residents of Hudson and Hopkinton when batshit crazy at the prospect of their houses being torn down, I-95 was originally designed to go inside of Boston and run parallel to I-93 but residents of Dedham, Roslindale, Hyde Park, Readville, and Roxbury also went batshit crazy at the idea of some of their houses getting torn down. For those living in Connecticut, I-95 used to have tolls but removed due to massive backups and accidents, For those living in New Jersey, I-95 in that state is considered to be an incomplete highway due to the cancellation of a freeway that would’ve connected the stretch of I-95 in New Jersey to the stretch that traverses Philadelphia, this connection is made by an awkward junction involving I-95 sharing a highway with I-195 followed by I-295. Those traveling by use of GPS who don’t know any better will make the common misconception that the entirety of the New Jersey Turnpike is I-95 which isn’t true, I-95 only traverses a portion of the Turnpike before it is awkwardly rerouted through Philadelphia. I honestly think that the entirety of the Jersey Turnpike should be signed as I-95, it would be so much easier. Also those who have traversed I-95 will notice that there’s a I-495 in Massachusetts, New York, and in Washington DC in the form of the Capitol Beltway, this isn’t the same Highway, it is a phenomenon known as an auxiliary highway, a deviation of the main route in the form of three digit highways with even numbered auxiliary highways like I-290 in Massachusetts entering cities such as Worcester and odd numbered highways like I-495 going around cities or deviating away from them.
I could go on and on and you’d probably want to kill me but that’s just a small tidbit of what I can recall from memory. Like I said some of this stuff can feel useless and part of the reason I never talk about it is because honestly no one gives a shit and I’ve always thought people would think I was weird for knowing this stuff. I still think people would think I was weird for knowing this stuff I mean honestly, how many women list “knowing a lot about interstate highways” as something they’d want in a man? No one woman ever. I know a lot of women who would choose the douche bag before they chose an Autistic guy that can navigate you around the country without a GPS and that isn’t me being negative about myself, it’s just me being real. This type of knowledge would probably help in career and help me get around and understand the roads I’m driving on but outside of that it feels pointless. Even today as I was explaining some of this stuff to my brother since he asked, most of the time it felt like really useless knowledge. I don’t think I’ve ever met a girl who would be interested in hearing any of this stuff and I could probably put many to sleep with all that I know. To me however it this information can be extremely intriguing thus the reason why I always look it up. I don’t know where this information will get me aside from keeping me from getting lost. I’ve yet to meet a woman that would be interested in this stuff or would find me having this knowledge of great use but let’s back away before we venture into the woes of my love life.
Until now I’ve been very closeted about that obsession but most others will talk you to death about their obsessions so be prepared but most importantly be patient, that obsession keeps us going in way you couldn’t imagine. Well that’s all for tonight, happy reading and stay classy.