I’m waiting patiently to board the Metra train. It’s hot on the platform and I’m eager to get inside the cool car. A half dozen shadowy figures silently descend the steps and brush past me. I urge Randy to climb aboard. That’s when another gray blob jostles me. I turn Randy around, no small feat in close quarters. We step back onto the platform. The blob passes and I notice it’s dragging something behind. A guide dog, perhaps? A toddler? A chimpanzee?
Then I hear the click, click, click of gears as the blob and his bicycle stroll down the platform. And I call after him, “You know, it helps when people say ‘Coming Out!’”
Now that Randy and I are settled on the train, I start to wonder. Why does it fall to the person with the least amount of information to enlighten and instruct and take charge? I’m blind, right? And I run up against half a dozen sighted people. And I’m the one who it falls to to direct traffic? That’s crazy!
I believe that people, sighted or blind, do not want to be rude or inconsiderate. Most often, they simply lack information to understand a situation and what to do about it. Here we had six people trying to get off the train and a blind guy with a guide dog trying to get on. And the sum total of all that eyesight, intelligence and civilization is silence, misunderstanding and hard feelings.
I believe most people want to help others. Here and now, I’m telling you how. Open your mouths and say something. Inform. Educate. Direct traffic. I’ll tell you if you’re stepping on my emotional toes. We can dialogue and all learn something. After all, I’ve had decades problem-solving this blindness thing and, once possessed of the facts, I might just come up with a good idea.