Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cheese crackers

My friends ask me about the weekend portion of my job and I tell them the word "job" hardly applies. I work four days with brain injured individuals-again the word "job" seems out of place. We go bowling which I stink at-again the word "stink"hardly applies, but we laugh like hell and have a great time. I swim two days a week with clients. Floating peacefully in the water, I invariably turn to a fellow wage slave and say, "You know, we are getting paid for this." Monday is my day off. I see the smiles out there and hear the wisecrack, "Day off from what?" Tuesday is my long day because of our live radio show. This is an incredible experience. We meet and interview giants in little bodies, scarred heroes who never picked up a gun and I could go on and on. On Friday, after I drop one client off, I make my way to a private home where an autistic man in his late forties lives. A characteristic of autism is that they find safety in fixed routine that takes place in a remote world that Captain Kirk will never find. He waits for me and only wants to know if "Ronde" will be their tomorrow. The words take a trained ear to decipher, but I know what he is saying. Assured that all is right with his world we part, but not before I give him a dollar for a diet coke. A practice I began a year ago that probably breaks some obscure rule.. In five years our routine has not varied. I was off the last two weekends for various reasons and when I arrived this Friday he was waiting for me as usual in the kitchen. In his hand was four cheese crackers. "You eat crackers" and he stood and made sure I did. Then he walked down the hallway to his bedroom where he would blow bubbles and marvel at their floating beauty. Each a world he could enter--or not. People spend small fortunes to take exotic vacations to remote areas of the globe, but I doubt they experience what this man experiences gazing at a bubble. This was an almost shocking learning experience for me. For years, Karen would ask me how my weekend was when I returned home Sunday morning. I would say something like, "You know, the same.", but this weekend I thought to myself, "It was nice. I had a bite to eat with a friend."

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