I’d heard the backstory about the founder.

She had behavioral problems and she’d been kicked out of every group in town.

So she went off and founded this place. It helps thousands of people every month.

I knew it was her when I saw her.

She had a couple stacks of paper for a staff training exercise.

She started to explain it, and I said “these are hexidecimal color codes.”

She lit up.

Each piece of paper was broken up into a grid representing a master code with the hex codes for all 256 shades of grey. In HTML and graphics, colors are represented by a hex code , with #00 00 00 being black at one end and #FF FF FF being white at the other end.

The other stacks of paper contained variations of greys in the 16K color range. (The color range can actually extend into the millions. On older computers/graphics processing hardware, they’d pruned that down to about 256 colors on your screen… over time that became 32,000 colors, then 64,000 colors and so on and so on and so on .. my Mac can display millions of colors with four or five scaled resolution options.)

What’s the point of the exercise?

Survivors of abuse and trauma are prone to “black and white” thinking, that is to say, “I like you right up until the point that you do or say something that I don’t like.”

And then it isn’t “I’m upset about this thing you said.”

It’s “I don’t like you anymore.”

(Mmmmmmhmmm.)

I watched this sweet old lady describe the exercise.

She’s adorable.

I tried to imagine some hateful support group deciding that she was garbage and should be thrown away.

I just loved how she basically said “fuck you” and created all of this.

I teared up a little.

The point of the exercise was to get the staff to “match” shades of grey in the range of millions with the 256 shades of grey in the master sheet and then explain how they are not in fact the same color.

I didn’t have it in me to pull the weaponized autism card and tell her that the printer in the office is only capable of printing about 32 shades of black and that the variations come from the ink, the paper, and imperfections in the printing process. It’s very imprecise, if you printed the exact same document five times and held them up side by side none of them would match each other anyway. Should have printed it in color!

“Okay, you’re going to explain this one to the other staff.”

Very well, then I will explain it to you as well.