Today is 10-10-10! Hopefully you will join me and Howard Wu in giving away $10 today. Howard came up with this idea and created a Facebook page for people to share their stories.
The fact that today is a special date, 10-10-10, seems very appropriate for today’s recipient. You will see why later, but Joey has some absolutely brilliant abilities when it comes to dates.
I was headed to the National’s baseball game and got a ride over from my friend and former colleague Rick. He was joined by his brother Joey, who was visiting Rick here in the DC area.
I soon learn that Joey is a remarkable man. The 52-year-old from New Hampshire is autistic. His parents were told to institutionalize Joey, but they never did. He has lived with his parents, who are now in their 70s, all his life.
Despite Joey’s disability he lives a full life. He is a tremendous help to his parents around the house. Rick tells me that he keeps his room and himself meticulously clean, and makes his own breakfast and lunch.
He is a very gentle man. He keeps to himself and doesn’t say much. In fact, he didn’t speak at all until he was about nine. When he does it is usually to answer a question. And he is very decisive in his answer. I often find myself trying to recall things and taking a few seconds or minutes to determine whether I know the answer or not. Not Joey. He either knows the answer or he doesn’t, there isn’t much in between.
For more than twenty years, the Easter Seals have provided a tremendous amount of care for Joey. During the week they provide transportation for him to and from different locations where he works. Usually he sets up tables at local restaurants and has also worked at the library alphabetizing periodicals. When his day is done, he returns to the comfort of his parent’s loving home.
Joey has some incredible abilities. Like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man, he has savantism. When I got in the car Joey quickly asked me my name. I told him and he asked me to repeat my last name for him. I got the feeling that this information was being stored away for future use. He then asked, “When were you born?” I told him that my birth date was January 22, 1974. He took a few seconds and then said, “Tuesday.” Rick told me that he knows the day of the week for every date. WOW! I had no idea if he was right or not, but after checking this when I got home, I discovered he was right! He also told me that my father, who turns 70 this Friday, was born on a Tuesday. He was right again. Rick tells me that if he ever meets me again he will surely remember my name and birth date.
Joey wasn’t done yet. Nope, not by a long shot. He also has a knack for telling you the song name and artist for almost any song from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Rick had on an oldies station and every song that came on Joey would tell us the name of the song and the artist. “I Saw Linda Yesterday by Dickey Lee,” he says. A few minutes later he enlightened us with, “Traces by the Classics IV.” I’ve never heard of either of the artists much less would I have known who they were by listening to them. And I would have never known if he was right or not either but Rick’s radio will display that information if you press some buttons. We repeated this exercise about a half-dozen times on the way to the game and he was spot on.
Joey really likes to swim. Rick told me that he had gone swimming almost every day while he was in DC. Unfortunately, his time in DC was coming to an end. After the game Rick and Joey were driving north to meet their parents half way between New Hampshire and DC. Joey was going back home.
I wish each and every one of you could have met him. Joey is pretty amazing. I almost forgot to tell you what he did with his $10. On their way out of the stadium he bought some gelato. I believe it was chocolate…he apparently eats chocolate every day. He still has the other $4 carefully tucked away in a box where he keeps his spending money. I’ll let you know if I hear what happens to the other $4.
By the way, Joey was born 52 years to the day before I started the Year of Giving: December 15th, 1957 – it was a Sunday.