Cliff was a friend of a friend who got roped into my group of cyclists as we prepared for the MS 150—a bike ride from Houston to Austin. I did this crazy event one time, early in the 1990s. After two days and 160 miles on the bike, I was suitably proud of myself, but my butt did not recover for about six months.
The night before we started, I checked into a hotel near the starting line with Cliff. We were planning to share a room. We did not know each other well, but had done a few training rides together. We lived in the same neighborhood and I had frequently seen his son, about 12 years old, playing by himself in the yard. I had never talked to the boy, but just from casual observation I thought there was something a bit odd about him.
We had booked a room with two beds, but when we got to the front desk, the clerk told us that all of the two-bed rooms were taken. So we asked for a bed and a rollaway. Sorry, said the clerk, all the rollaways are committed also. We asked if maybe there were two rooms available? Nope. Did I mention that Cliff and I did not know each other well? At about this time, he looked at me and I looked at him and we both told the clerk that we would take the largest king size bed they had.
So that’s how Cliff and I ended up sleeping together the night before the bike ride. As we turned out the lights, we talked a bit. Cliff asked the usual questions—what kind of work do you do?
Oh… a lawyer? What kind of lawyer? A school district lawyer! What’s that? Oh….you do special education?
And that’s when Cliff told me that the boy I had seen in his yard, the kid that struck me as “a bit odd” had autism. I braced myself for criticism. I had encountered more than a few parents of students with autism who were quite unhappy with the services their children had received. But not Cliff. He told about how his son was now able to play with other students at school. How he now rode the bus with all the other kids. How his autistic son was accepted as part of the community.
“Those special ed teachers,” he said, “they are….miracle workers.”
I slept well.
DAWG BONE: ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME, YOU CAN WORK A MIRACLE
Tomorrow: Where is your printer?