I Need To Learn Braille Better

So, we’re in the elevator, we are.  Sherlock and me.  Sherlock is my guide dog.  We’re on the third floor.  We want to go to the first.  The building has five.  The door closes.  We sit there.  I press the bottom button.  The door opens.  “I need to learn Braille better,” I tell Sherlock.

I run my fingertips along the wall.  I feel the bumps and the buttons. I think I find the number 1.  The elevator starts going up.  We’re headed for parts unknown.  “I need to learn Braille better,” I tell Sherlock.

I stand tall and the buttons sit low.  It’s hard to read Braille with my finger upside down.  I drop to all fours.  Sherlock thinks it’s play time.  He puts his elbows on my back.  He stands on his hind paws.  Then, God bless his gentle soul, he begins to hump me.  He has assumed the Southwestern Sidewinder position.  While I’m thinking how I need to learn Braille better, I say to Sherlock, “Get off me.”

The elevator door opens.  Half a tick later, someone screams.  I shuffle forward.  The woman steps back.  “Can you help me?” I ask.  The woman retreats down the hallway.  The door closes and we sit.

I press another button.  The alarm sounds.  I press the button above that one.  We go down.

“This is security.  What is your problem?”  The voice bounces around the elevator.  I stand tall, remain mute and pat Sherlock’s head.

The door opens.  We’re at the first floor.  The crowd parts.  We stride across the lobby.  I read peoples’ minds.  “Look at that self-assured blind man and his beautiful guide dog.  We project nonchalance.  “I repeat.  This is security.”  The voice gets dimmer.  “What is your problem?”

“Problem?” I ask Sherlock.  “What problem?  We just need to learn Braille better, that’s all.”

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8 Responses to I Need To Learn Braille Better

  1. Pamela Berman says:

    thank you Jeff…smile I have shared almost that same experience…except Brio started kissing me when I got down on all fours & I jumped up before the elevator doors opened.
    Before I had a dog guide myself, I also viewed blind people with them as being exactly as you described as you exited the elevator. Today, as an almost totally blind woman with a guide dog, I’m so proud to say I know enough Braille to remain standing & truly confident on elevators. These days you could hear me boasting to Brio about how cool it is that I know Braille!…smile

    • susie says:

      What a coincidence to read this! Today, I was thinkig about needing to learn elevator braille! I’m in denial about other uses for braille that I might enjoy. At this point I don’t think I’d enjoy anything about braille but that’s my uncertainty and unfamiliarity to it, speaking for me. Kudo’s to the brave souls that have taken on the challenge and have been happy that they did. Soon, I’m going to give it a try. You neglected Jeff, to tell us if you did learn to get better at braille ???

  2. Carl D says:

    Your right Jeff. Just six little dots, two rows of three. Or is it three rows of two. My uneducated fingers do not stand a chance at reading the letters. If can come up with some faith in myself – then I’ll take a class – and then I will pray my way to some sort of sucess.

  3. Jane Johnston says:

    I laughed out loud when I read this story. I’m not blind and it gave me a whole new outlook on being blind. Great job, Jeff. Really nice, really funny, really eye-opening. – Jane

  4. Jeff flodin says:

    Thanks so much to Pamand Carl and Jane for your thoughtful comments. They run the gamut of experience and are exactly what we hope this blog will be – informative to everyone, encouraging to people facing the challenges of low vision, and testimonials to courage and perseverance that produce enhanced quality of life. Thank you so much for making a difference.

  5. Jeff flodin says:

    And to Susie, my braille accuracy is much improved since the time of this story. Now, I’m working on speed. and location. Is there uniformity among elevator manufacturers that the Braille is placed to the left or right, above or below the corresponding button? I’m just looking for uniformity here.

  6. bethfinke says:

    Yes, and would also like it if there was some uniformity in what the elevator folks label as the first floor: #1? Lobby? Main? At Union Station it’s labeled “s” for “street level”!

  7. bethfinke says:

    And one more comment from me, Jeff. Your loyal blog readers might like knowing that this piece was read aloud in our memoir-writing class Wednesday to great reviews. You know you’ve really hit the writing nail on the head when a piece like this is appreciated “universally,” ie, by sighted and non-sighted alike. Great work.

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