I met Duane sometime in 2016. As a customer at my job, we encountered each other by chance one day in my department. He asked me a question, I pointed him in the right direction while delivering my standard customer service. However, Duane was impressed by my attitude and energy and extended one of his mysterious business cards. At first, I was skeptical, having had many strangers offer me vague or misleading opportunities that never went through. That same night, out of curiosity, I visited the link on the card and read a short biography, as well as the stories of former students. Although I was still slightly wary, Duane and I exchanged emails until we eventually agreed to meet up. We had lunch where he asked me questions and even showed me a “magic” coin trick. We have been buddies ever since, as his odd quirks seem to complement mine.
Fortunately, Duane has always been upfront and candid about his intentions. He (jokingly) promised to “ruin” my life, and that he did! He has since corrupted my personal and world views, encouraging me to evaluate my opinions and beliefs. We met a few more times, and together we explored the results of my Myers-Briggs personality test. Somewhere along the way, Duane pointed out that I—like him—may have Asperger’s. All my life, I have always felt different and grappled with the anxieties and isolation resulting from this. Since I was very young I was convinced there was something “wrong” with me, but only ever had my suspicions. I did my research, took tests, and now realize that most of my life difficulties have stemmed from the attempt to not only please others but to categorize myself into the label of “normal” that I have no business being in! Without Duane’s insight, I would never have been able to deal with this life-changing diagnosis.
Among many topics, Duane and I talk about history, politics, ethics, and the future. He has taught me about economics, motorcycles, traveling, and the second amendment. He has instilled in me the value of networking, the essence of integrity, and the importance of believing in my capabilities. Talking with and visiting him regularly over the last two years has exposed me to many ideas and qualities that were otherwise lacking in my life. He is the first person I go to when I have plans for my educational and financial future but need the guidance to make decisions. Because of Duane, I have also realized how our perception is responsible for the world we make ourselves, especially with that of luck and opportunity. He has taught me to gravitate toward the unknown, challenge my beliefs, and move out of my comfort zone for good. I wish I had met him many years ago when I needed a hero most, but I am glad that we met when we did, as fate would have it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Ausherman.
How wonderful your story is. Thank you for sharing it.
All of us are better to have met Duane.
My best……… Mike Cecchini, Bethesda, Md.
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