Early in my new life in the big city, I’m seated in my disabled/geezer/pregnant woman seat on the 146 bus when, at a stop, the bus erupts in bells and whistles. What’s going on? Other passengers stand and mill around like it’s a fire drill, but I stay put and pat my sociable Seeing Eye dog on the head.
I hear the motorized wheelchair advancing up the aisle. OK, fine, a wheelchair. It stops right in front of me. Silence reigns.
“Well…” a voice says. I detect petulance.
Is he talking to me?
Let me stop the story right here and get to the point. And the point is that blind people need only two simple bits of information in order to keep the peace and promote the general welfare. First, we need to know what the hell is going on. Lacking traditional sources of sensory input, we rely on others. Second, we need to know what is expected of us in any given situation.
My unintended showdown on the 146 needn’t have turned awkward or contentious had a fellow traveler or, God forbid, the bus driver said, “A wheel chair is coming onto the bus. We need to get up, flip up this row and move across the aisle to other seats.” Not that it’s the other guy’s responsibility to wise me up; I could have asked no one in particular what was happening and what to do about it. But sometimes I get tired of being the person provided the least information, then expected to make the quantum leap to the perfect solution.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that if I felt any sorrier for myself, I’d break out the violin to accompany my whining. Perhaps you’re right. Still, let’s call in an expert on etiquette. Emily Post said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”