As someone over 30 who writes about what it’s like to have ADHD, I sometimes assume I’ve run out of surprises. It’s easy to think I’ve learned all the little ways ADHD affects my behavior.

That’s simply not true. It probably isn’t true for any of us.

The other day, I had a revelation — an, “I can’t believe it’s ADHD” moment — while paying for food at a local cafe.

For some reason, I paid with cash — something I rarely do — and noticed I could give the cashier a few coins to round out my change.


I’ve never been able to abide coins. In my retail days, I’d suppress the urge to yell, throw a stapler, or punch the cash register while watching customers pluck coins one by one from overstuffed purses.

It was excruciating. I wondered how they could inflict this kind of torture on another human being. From then on, I resolved to use coins as seldom as possible. I apologized every time I found myself breaking this rule. When I sensed people looking at me as I counted my change, I withered inside and berated myself for causing such a holdup.

On this day at the cafe, it hit me just as I muttered my reflexive, “sorry!”: the coins have never been the problem.

It’s me.

I feel this way — I’ve always felt this way — because I have ADHD. When I count out a few coins to simplify the change a cashier will give me, I’m not forcing an awful feeling upon her. She’s probably not about to start tugging her collar and frantically glancing around the room, as though her skin might leap off her body if she’s made to wait any longer.

Well, unless she’s a 17-year-old with undiagnosed ADHD. But I can’t assume that of everyone I meet. I should probably just stop feeling guilty about giving cashiers exact change.

How about you? What surprising manifestations of ADHD have you discovered lately?