It has to be said that Nick is anything but polished. He finds it hard to sit still when talking, twisting the telephone cord around his neck or fiddling with his fingers. His words sometimes come out in fits and starts, and another special education teacher, Paul Mifsud, says for a while Nick was hoarding leftover food in his locker.I identify very strongly with Nick. I sought refuge in maps the same way he does. But I always had a home in which to seek it. That's a fact I should spend more time remarking. It's certainly a lot more useful to contemplate than my own navel.
"A lot of things made kids look at him as a pariah,'' says Anzaldo.
But then he'll ask you to test him. Name a place, he says. Anywhere in the city. Ask how to get there on the bus.
How about Coit Tower?
"Simple,'' Nick says. "You take the 38 Geary, get off at Third and Market. You walk to the 30 Stockton and take that north to Union and Columbus. Then catch the 39 to Coit Tower.''
Don't bother trying to stump him. He knows all the routes. For some reason, Nick has always had, as he puts it, "incredible taste for public transit.'' Living in Seattle, he memorized the public transit map. He can still recall most of it, as well in the other cities where he's lived.
"I have always been a map kinda guy,'' he says.
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