I Need To Learn Braille Better

We get on the elevator, Sherlock and me.  Sherlock is my guide dog.  We’re at the third floor of five.  We want to go down to the first floor.  The door slides shut.  Nothing happens.  I press the bottom button.  The door slides open.

“I need to learn Braille better,” I tell Sherlock.

I run my fingertips along the wall.  I think I find the Braille for number 1.  I press the button next to it.  The elevator goes up.

“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, so I drop to all fours.  Sherlock thinks it’s playtime.  He puts his elbows on my back and stands on his hind legs.  Then, God bless him, 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 my back.”

The elevator stops and the door opens.  A woman gasps.  I crawl forward.  She steps backward.  I ask, “Can you help me?”  I hear her heels run away from me, down the hallway.  The door closes.  Sherlock dismounts

I press another button.  The alarm sounds.  I press the button above that one.  The elevator goes down.  “This is security,” booms a big voice from a small speaker.    “What is your problem?” I scramble to my feet, stand tall, remain mute and pat Sherlock’s head.

The door opens.  We’re at the first floor.  I command, “Sherlock, forward!”  The crowd parts.  We stride across the marble floor.  We project nonchalance.  I can tell what the people are thinking.  They’re thinking, “Look at that self-assured blind man and his well-trained guide dog.”

“This is security.”  That voice again.  We keep walking.  The voice gets far away.  “What is your problem?”

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


[NOTE:  Sherlock was Jeff’s Seeing Eye dog from 2003 to 2010.  A version of this story was published in Kaleidoscope magazine in 2012.  Used with permission.]



This entry was posted in Braille, Guide Dogs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to I Need To Learn Braille Better

  1. Kent Flodin says:

    I have always loved that story. Good to read it again, and to share it.

  2. nbollero says:

    I read this while waiting for a meeting to start. A colleague then tells me a complicated serious story, but I keep thinking about the elevator scene. Soon, “WHY ARE YOU SMILING?”. Oops. Your fault! You have a way with words.

  3. bethfinke says:

    Love it, and I gotta ask: have your Braille skills improved any since this appeared in Kaleidoscope magazine?!

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