Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blinder Than a Bat

Yesterday, I was walking down the street here in Salta, Argentina, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man hustling along the sidewalk next to me. He had a long walking stick. It took only a moment for me to ascertain that he was blind. He seemed in an awfully big hurry for a blind guy—it had never occurred to me until that moment that blind people can't usually be in a hurry. This fellow demonstrated why.

As he hurried, almost frantically, down the sidewalk, he was thrusting his walking stick out in front of him and off to the side, at times over the edge of the tall curb—probably a foot-and-a-half down to the street. He was yelling something about "la puerta" or, the door. He was scurrying along to try and catch the bus and was asking where the door was, or that the driver keep the door open—I'm not sure exactly.

The climax of the show came next. On the sidewalk in front of him was a concrete light post. Lucky for the blind dude, there was a large metal sign—probably 3 feet wide by 4 feet tall—resting on its feet in front of the light post. He ran into the sign at a pretty good clip, but managed to stay on his feet and to continue on toward his goal.

By this point, he was next to the bus and people all around were looking uncomfortably in his direction. I saw that there was a line of people shuffling onto the bus and it was clear he would have no trouble catching his ride. I think some of the observers helped this poor fellow find the door at this stage in his race, but I can't be sure, as I never skipped a beat in my normal brisk pace.

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