This evening I met Ruth in Islington and we had a great time. On the Tube home I was thinking about how important having a friend with Tourettes is to me. I felt happy and relaxed until three police officers got on and my heart sank. I didn’t want trouble – I just wanted to get home.
Inevitably, one of the officers came and stood directly in front of me. She stared carefully into my eyes, presumably to check if I was on drugs. She then asked if everything was OK and I told her that it was, and that I had Tourettes. She said, “I thought it was something like that, is there anything I can do?” I said I was fine and that she couldn’t help much unless she was a neurologist. She smiled and went back to join her colleagues.
Five minutes later she came over again and sat down next to me saying, “I’ve never met anyone with Tourettes before, it must be very frustrating?” We had an interesting and detailed conversation about it and how people respond to it, including the police.
Her empathy was in stark contrast to my previous experiences with the police. What she did was take the time to find out why I was ticcing, instead of just telling me off for doing it.