This was originally posted on February 22, 2016 at 9:00 PM on Blogger.
On Saturday, I was going to hang out with some friends after music school. But I’d arrived at our meeting point earlier than the other two (it took them an HOUR to get there), so I was just hanging around at the station.
I stood, leaning coolly against the side of the staircase, with my cane tucked beneath my left arm and my phone in my right hand. I was also staring, listlessly, at the yellow warning strip through my lashes (I was really excited when I figured out what that phrase meant).
I was approaching the half hour mark when a woman came up to me.
“Um, excuse me?”
I look around. The three trains that come to that stop had all recently come and gone so there were very few people at the station.
“Yeah?” I asked, a little hesitant in case she wasn’t speaking to me.
“Yeah, um…” I stopped squinting and turned more fully toward her. “Oh! I—I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine,” I say, though what I should have said was “for what”. “What was your question?”
“Oh.” She says. “I, um, was just, um, wondering how I get to the to Flatbush.” Involuntarily, I raise my eyebrows a little. As I’m getting ready to tell her I’m not sure how to get there from the station, she clarifies. “The um Flatbush train.”
“The 2 train,” I ask. “The Flatbush Avenuebound two?”
“Yes!” she says.
“Oh,” I say, turning slightly and gesturing down the stairs. “Just go down, around, then back up.”
“Oh okay.” I hear that hint of surprise and trepidation that colors her tone as she heads down the stairs. “Thanks.”
While I realize that this is similar to my other post, wherein I discuss the benefits of asking a blind or visually impaired person for assistance, in that story, I had no idea how to direct the girl, and this time I did.
We really are good people to ask for direction. More oft than not, we make it a point of knowing exact locations, or we at least have landmarks to look out for (after you pass the garbage, you’re at the right room). Sometimes I don’t know exactly how many buildings from the corner my destination is, but once I know how to get to the right block, I have no qualms asking questions (or using the map on my phone). But I can at least point people in the right direction.
Now, I know some Sighteds who give great directions. They’re really attentive to/aware of their surroundings, they can even give exact direction when exiting train stations (all of that was about my sister, by the way). But I also know people who can’t even get out whether or not to go right or left while they’re watching you do it (that’s for my other sister, love you!).
But don’t be afraid to ask. Or, if the blind person offers information, don’t ignore it.
There was another time, a few months ago, as I was waiting to cross a street, I heard a group of women arguing behind me.
“I’m pretty sure it’s that way,” one said.
“Avenue of the Americas? No, I think it might be this way.”
“You’re looking for Sixth Avenue?” I ask, turning slightly toward them.
“No,” one of them said, in a slightly condescending tone. “We’re looking for Avenue of the Americas.”
“Yeah, Sixth Avenue,” I said, I have sort of elitist tendencies (sometimes) so I matched her tone quite nicely as I pointed them in the right direction.
“Oh, well, thank you,” one of the other said as they headed where I pointed.
For any of my readers not in New York City, I think it is officially called Avenue of the Americas, but (usually) only tourists call it that. We generally just say Sixth Avenue.
So, in an instance like that, if they’d asked me for a specific address, I couldn’t have helped, but I got them going in the right direction.
Blind (and visually impaired) folk, we’re people too.
I plan for my next post to be the mending of one of many misconceptions about us blind folk. But that may be subject to change if anything particularly noteworthy happens to me. Or you’ll just get two posts.
Well, till next time
(Japanese for goodbye/see you)