Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 15: A Tense Day


Never again will I put myself in this situation because it was horrible! All I wanted to do this weekend was to give Jamie McMurray a book. On paper it sounded simple, but the previous two days only resulted in failure and frustration.

I woke up every 30 minutes last night with a new plan on how to get him my book. Words of encouragement rung through my head and dreams as "just do it" and "don't worry about it!" buzzed about.

I had not done it yet and people need to learn never to tell me "don't worry about it". I do worry, and I was worrying as I drove to the track this morning.

It was a cloudy morning with spots of drizzle here and there. The weather was a perfect metaphor for how I was feeling. I practiced what to say, I envisioned the posture I would have, but nothing felt right. I was doing the opposite of all the encouragement I had received because I most certainly was worrying about it.

The pits were mostly empty as I arrived as I had this plan of catching him when he got to the track. Then, there he was! He was walking with three other people though and as he walked by I was able to get out a faint, "Jai" but did not have the power to finish it. It was so silent I think I may have just thought I said it, but however loud it was it wasn't enough because Jamie and company walked right on by. Opportunity lost.

Loitering became my next tactic as I stood by his pit area. I was waiting for the right moment, but I was unsure what it would look like. The problem was I was sure I would intrude and anger him and I don't like making people angry.

7:30 came and it was time to start practice. Mother nature had different plans with a few lightning strikes so we were delayed. Unlike NASCAR, we race in the rain, but not with lightning. This gave me more time in the pits.

I was carrying my book in a protective plastic sack just in case I had the right moment. During a meeting with the track workers Jamie walked right past me and was no less than two feet away. "J" was all I was able to say. Again my presence was not noticed and my attempt to say something was heard only by me.

The lightning quickly went elsewhere and it was time to start the day. As we started it started to rain. Not much, but enough to be noticed. I was now angry at myself for forgetting my rain gear at home because I was starting to get soaked. Again, metaphorically speaking, this was a great example of how I felt.

During Qualifying I was beginning to panic. To want to do something and to be unable is the worst feeling in the world. I had to do it, but it was also impossible for me. I was being torn up and it takes a lot for me to become aggravated with myself, but I was there.

Then the bottom fell out, of the sky that is. A drowning rain poured down and it was enough to put a temporary halt on the on-track activity. During this time I realized I needed help as I would be unable to live with myself if I didn't achieve this small feat of giving Jamie a book.

I sent my dad a message telling him I would not be able to do this by myself and he got in touch with Rob Howden, owner of, and the trackside announcer to help me out. He agreed and said he would get it done at the end of the day.

The end of the day was 8 hours way! My mind went wild with possibilities. I did not doubt Rob's ability to introduce me, but what if Jamie left early? Oh, the possibilities!

Race after race flew by and again, like yesterday, it was a work of perfection. During the TaG Senior final Jamie was right by me as I exited the score tower to give the green from the track. "---" is what I said. I opened my mouth, but not even a faint "J" was heard. This was rather saddening to me. You see, I have learned to place myself it situations where this won't happen to me. I have learned to cope with the challenges and will avoid situations I know I can't do. I had to do this yet I couldn't. If this were a play I think it would be called tragic.

The thoughts of sadness were quickly washed away because I had a race to start and being on the track I must have full attention or risk being hit. After I threw the green I rushed back up into the flagstand and watched the race wondering if I would ever get the chance to hand Jamie that book.

The final race of the day came, and it was the race Jamie was in. I found it ironic that I have no issues communicating to the drivers. If anything I communicate more to them during the race than anyone else. Through my movements and flag waving I express what is going on, in a way. If someone is over the line my posture is my strict. I know how to do this all and it isn't vocal. What I needed to do was vocal, but I was prepared for failure so I flagged that race with a new found vigor.

If I was going to fail I was going to fail, but I was going to flag with passion. I know I can do that so I might as well go all out (well, I go all out all the time, so I went over all out if that is possible). I knew my time was running out, and while I didn't doubt Rob's ability to get me to Jamie, I just doubted if Jamie would still be there at the end as it would take several minutes to get across the track.

It was over. The final checkered flag flew and the SKUSA Summer Nationals were over. I rolled up my flags and took in my amazing view one more time. I was thankful it got dry, but my mind was still in that downpour. I walked into the score tower with my breath held as I hoped Rob will talk to me first about this.

Self advocating is not in my list of things I can do. So many hardships in my life would not have happened if I could simply speak up for myself. In this instance though it was the first thing Rob said and I began to see a sliver of hope. Now, only if Jamie was still on-site (my mind would not allow me to see the logic that Jamie would get out of his suit, get his kart loaded up, and get off-site all in less than ten minutes. In my mind it could happen).

The walk across the track is something I don't remember. It only happened 90 minutes ago, but I don't remember the walk from the tower to the pits. I know I was talking with Rob, but what, exactly, remains a mystery to me. I was prepared for failure and what to write on here and how to defend such a, well, personal failure. I can present to crowds nearing 100, but giving one person a book proved to provide such a hardship.

I don't remember waking to Jamie's tent, but I do remember Rob introducing me to Jamie's dad. It's a shame that I don't remember much, but my mind was racing so fast with anxiety that I guess the ability to process everything was reduced.

After meeting his dad, Rob and his dad introduced me to Jamie McMurray. Rob mentioned that I was the starter and also had Asperger Syndrome and that I was an author. Then he proceeded to tell Jamie that I wanted to give him a book. Jamie saw the name and was amazed that I had written it. He looked through it and appreciated the personalized autograph. He was genuinely grateful and asked the question most people ask when they found out I wrote a book, "How long did it take you to write it?"

The conversation wasn't long as the day was long and karts don't pack themselves. Jamie thanked me again, as did Jamie's dad, and much like a sappy Disney sports movie everything worked out in the end after great hardship.

I was amazed at how warm the reception was from Jamie and his dad. Perhaps people I have heard of (i.e. famous people) intimidate me, or maybe I think they all aren't fully human, if that makes sense, but they were real people, real and thankful. In my mind I am irrelevant. It is hard to put any value in what I do. I don't know why this is, but that being the case I worried myself to a frenzy about giving them my book, but in the end they were happy and thankful.

The 2010 SKUSA Summer Nationals are in the books and there was some amazing racing on the track, but 20 years from now I won't remember any of it. What I will remember is the amazing gesture of Rob Howden introducing me to Jamie McMurray and the fact that it was in the last possible moments that I was able to pull off what seemed to be simple, "A book for Jamie".


  1. I enjoyed visiting your blog. I found the advertisement on facebook. What you're doing is helpful to those on the spectrum and also their parents. My son has high functioning autism and I often wonder what life will be like for him in his future. Those simple things that we take for granted. Thank you.

  2. So many people don't know when to ask for help, Aaron. I am so glad you were able to call your dad for the help you needed. And I am really glad you were able to get the book to Jaimie.

  3. I am so glad you asked for help. We all need help at times and sometimes that is the absolute hardest thing to do. For me that is the most difficult of things, similar to eye contact for you and my grandson Mitchell.

  4. Aaron, I'm so happy for you! It's actually 3:31 am now, because I couldn't stop reading, I really wanted to know how it would end. I'm so happy it ended well and you can look back on this as a personal success!

  5. I hope and pray that you also gave Jaime a link to your blog. I really NEED for him to read your writings of the past few days. NOTHING in his life will give him the same inside look and awareness into the autism world like reading these last 3 days of blogs.

    I am so sorry, so very sorry that you went through all of this frustration and yet this has been your greatest writings to date.

  6. I was unable to get anything written on it, but if I ever hear from him I will most certainly make it a point.

  7. Self advocacy used to be a weakness. HOWEVER, I have turned it into a strength. Part of it is that advocating for clients is part of my job as an occupational therapist. Part of it is that if I can't be an advocate for myself, how can I be an advocate for clients with autism? It's not that I am telling you to raise awareness to everybody. But, there are times where you have got to step up and advocating for people who can make a difference! If doing this kind of thing by yourself is scary, do this with someone you trust from your company. Do this a couple of times before you try to do this by yourself, it maybe a lot easier!