Ronald was a student with autism. I didn’t teach him but we often talked in the hallway. He had a talent for remembering facts and loved to pronounce words as if they were spelled backwards. Over the years we developed a nice relationship.
When he first met me he asked my name:
“I’m Mr. Caines.”
“Caines, Caines – Seniac.”
I did some quick thinking, “Ronald, I’d prefer Retsim Seniac..”
“Retsim Seniac, Retsim Seniac – Mister Caines, Retsim Seniac.”
It was locked in. From that day onward I was known as Retsim Seniac.”
My favourite coffee mug had the words Corner Gas emblazoned on it. It was a souvenir from the Canadian television sitcom of the same name. Ronald would often see me carrying it to or from the staffroom.
“Retsim Seniac, Retsim Seniac – Renroc Sag.”
“Sorry Ronald, did you say Renroc Sag?”
He pointed to my mug, “Renroc Sag.”
I then realized what he was saying. “Ah yes, Corner Gas, Renroc Sag. I like that Ronald.”
One Monday morning my coffee mug went missing. I had bus duty that particular morning and when I returned to the staffroom it was gone. I looked in the dishwasher, it wasn’t there. I then thought that perhaps one of the guys hid it on me. I needed to get to class – I would find it later.
But it remained missing.
I loved that mug. It was distinctive. It was unique. Coffee tasted so good in it.
On Friday mornings Ronald, in the company of a teaching-assistant, would visit each classroom and collect paper from the recycling bags. He was fairly good about entering classrooms without making a lot of noise. That Friday morning, four days after my mug went AWOL, I approached Ronald.
“Ronald, Renroc Sag has gone missing”
“ Renroc Sag? Renroc Sag? Retsim Seniac’s Renroc Sag?”
“Yes, I can’t find it. When you collect paper today, will you look for it?”
As he walked away he repeated, “ Renroc Sag, Renroc Sag.” He was on the case.
Later that morning, as he was making his rounds, he saw my coffee mug on the desk of another teacher. She was teaching at the time but as soon as Ronald spied the mug the alarm went off, “Renroc Sag! Renroc Sag! Retsim Seniac’s Renroc Sag!” Of course the teacher was caught off-guard by this cryptic message.
Things were sorted out and the mug was returned to me later that day. Apparently, while I was out on bus duty, this particular teacher saw my mug on the counter and assumed it was a free-range, public-domain mug. She adopted it as her own and was using it all week. I didn’t tell her that it hadn’t been properly washed since September.
As I type this this, I am enjoying a coffee from that very mug.
Ronald, you came through for me. “Knaht uoy.”
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