Monday, September 26, 2005


the blind leading the blind

Lately I've become this blind person helper. I don't know what it is, or why it is, but when I see a blind person it's like I'm drawn to asking if they want help.

I'm not sure when this thing happened, most likely last year when a "seeing impaired" girl moved into a dorm near mine. If I recall correctly, one time I was walking along the sidewalk and I passed her tapping away. I felt a bit guilty prancing along my merry way, jumping over cracks and avoiding deep puddles, so I asked if she wanted help, and she said sure. I swallowed my trepidation and offered her my arm, she took it, and we walked into the pryz together.

Dear Abby's advice was ringing in my ears "Most likely people would like your help, so don't hesitate to offer it."

Since then, being a seeing eye dog has become a fairly regular occurrence, and the good deeds most usually happen on the Metro. Something about someone tumbling off the platform onto the tracks generally shocks me into action and prevents me from looking the other way. During my June trip to DC, I led a man off the bus, down the ramp and to the turnstile. When I was there two weeks ago, I walked with a man named Dan from the red line to the yellow line downstairs. C-note helped out by running ahead and determining if he was waiting for the train that would come on the left or the right side.

Then a few days ago I saw a blind man tapping the gate at the metro gate, while the station manager was sitting in his box 15 feet away, doing the crossword or something. I went up to him all "Can I help you sir?" and he said, "I'm looking for the station manager." So I loudly said "EXCUSE ME?" in the direction of the oblivious worker. The station manager heard me, looked up and started coming over.

I said to the blind man "oh, he was slacking off, reading the paper or something."

and the station manager came over and said to me "I heard that." All nastily. But like, whatever. If you're ignoring your paying customers with disabilities, you deserve to have someone call you on it.

So, after helping one blind person, you feel like a good person. And after helping a second, you're like "okay, I'm doing this because no one else is." But when it becomes a habit? Am I really doing it because I'm nice or is there some other thing motivating me? Friday night I had a semi-deep moment at the Times when a guy I was talking to

*Sidenote. Bub. Just because I was talking to a guy DOES NOT mean that I'm desperate for a relationship. It's calling mingling.*

...said that some people may say that there's no such thing as a selfless act. I have no idea how we got on that topic, but I said that I disagreed and gave an example as a rebuttal. But me helping the blind community of D.C. is possibly indicative of no such thing as a selfless act.

Am I helping these people because I don't want them to die on the tracks? Because I see other people swarming around them on the platform, not even casting a glance?

Or do I do it because it makes me feel useful? Good-hearted? Because I get shot of endorphins when I give someone an arm and lead them through the huddled masses? Do I secretly have a Jesus complex, carrying my candle along the tracks of the Metro?

Okay, so that last sentence is a bit ridiculous. But it would be nice to determine if this was an entirely selfless act...or a secretly selfish one.

I don't know what you're talking about, I don't do mingling, every person I have the smallest of conversations with is someone I desperately want to hook up with. Especially if they are handicapped.

Funny story: I went to Sonic with a friend of mine one time and a blind kid came up to our car to try to sell us some kind of Blind Awareness pins. I bought a pin from him, and then she tried to do sign language to him. He ignored her, of course, and walked away and she got pissed about it, like "I bet he wasn't really blind if he doesn't even understand sign language." I looked at her for a minute to see if she was joking, and then I said "You know, with a blind person you could probably just speak English to them." Pretty funny stuff.
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