Something happened at the new escalator…


'blind woman with a strange man'

How many of us know how to react to help a blind person – who may be training the sighted human race – one by one – in how to get along,  for just 3 minutes at a time ?

Central Station in Sydney is the large railway terminus for country trains to the city.  It’s grand design dates back to the last century and its connective power is great with 24 platforms linking country and city trains and people. Over the past year at least, so the flower seller tells, the Devonshire St. Tunnel entrance from the east side has been renewed, and of course today was the first day that the new escalator linking the street down to the tunnel had started operating.  I had seen the inspectors inspecting early that morning, and this afternoon, was the first chance most people had to try it all out for size.

A man’s voice  spoke in my left ear, standing at the crossing this afternoon.

“Can you take her to Central please ?”

I looked over – hating to comprehend [what, which her is he talking about?] – since Central was just across the road.

I saw her white stick – his epaulette – the blind girl standing there – the taxi driver at her side.

He repeated his request, waiting for my slow comprehension to get sorted out..

I took her proffered arm, she looked around – like with beautiful blue misdirected eyes – still with expression – only one way.  Perhaps trying to reassure me – that there would not be a problem.

“Take my arm then !?”  she suggested, as buses were flying past, and the green man came on the crossing light.

We walked – she talked about not having come from this direction before – with the cane touching the pavement all over – and standing listening carefully all the time – I told her – ‘it’s all new, all of it’ == wondering what else == ‘whats your name ??’ .. she told me .. I was struggling to know how fast, how slow or what was the right way to walk, talk with a blind person.

“Well there are new stairs just here, and a new escalator over there to the right ? Do you want the stairs or the escalator ?”

“Lets go for the escalator” she said.   I must have been so stupid to ask about the stairs, but my sense of choice is stronger than my understanding of what a blind person might practically want to do, and up until today there was no escalator anyway.

We made it to the brand new escalator – down – round to the ticket gates – at one point I simply walked off – then with embarrassment realized she was standing still – confused – ‘Why had I left her standing there on the concourse ?”

I rushed back – stupid guy – then guided her over to the gates –

“No the wide gate! ” she said..

I felt so strange – no blind human had ever needed this much attention before – from me – who had not been trained of course.

We finally rounded the corner, and into the entry tunnel. I said to her – “have a happy Christmas”, after she said she would be fine from here – in the safety of the railway concourse and down toward the platform.  I left her, edging her way over to the tunnel wall, and avoiding people with the cane.  It seemed a shame in some respects, that we could not try the whole experience again, and I’m sure I could have done much better a second time.  But life is often that way.  You just get one try, not a second try, so

make sure to switch brain in gear

next time you hear a voice in your ear

your new experience about to begin

just once

take care

jump in


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