Tuesday, September 11, 2007 (Updated)
His guide dog sat obediently at his feet.
I didn’t really meet Mike until four years later in a graduate seminar in Interpersonal Dynamics. We’d been assigned to the same group and would spend an entire quarter on a project designed to teach us how to work effectively as a team. The task was to pick a project—as banal as putting together a volley ball game or having a dinner party—then observe the process of how we went about doling out tasks, assuming leadership roles, dealing with conflict, and so forth. All skills to be used later when we entered the world armed with freshly-minted MBAs.
Besides Mike and me, our group consisted of an older Asian female mom, a transfer student from Spain, a highly-charged Type-A male, and an easy going young man who always went with the flow.
For some reason, we didn’t take an easy path toward satisfying the requirements of the class. We didn’t just plan a dinner—we planned a 24-hour, overnight stay, at my parents’ house up in Lake Arrowhead.
I’ll never forget our arrival. Instantly, as Mike and his dog stumbled into furniture and as the toddler (brought by the Asian mom along with an adult sister) yanked everything in sight off tables, I questioned the wisdom of having invited this motley crew to my folks’ pristine home. But in the end, we all settled down, accomplished our task, and at the end of the quarter received an A on the paper that I mostly wrote.
Twenty-seven years would pass before I saw Mike again. This time on television. Larry King, to be exact.
A couple days after 9-1-1.
Do you remember the story of the blind man who walked down 78 floors to get out of the first tower?
My old friend, Mike.
Read the riveting account of how Mike escaped on that fateful morning here.
***Edited today, September 9, 2011, to add that Mike has written a book titled Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero. Here's the link at Amazon.
Ground Zero, January 2002.