After a year and a half of working at Gonzaga, I finally decided to find my way to the gym. Well, I did not know where to start and needed to ask a friend for help. You see, sounding much like a character from a Dr. Seuss book I cannot just go from “here” to “there.” I do not know exactly where “here” or “there” is. Yes, I do know that I am standing “here” but once I take one step in any direction, “here” just changed. Being blind, you have no perspective of your surroundings. A blind stick does not tell you where you are located. It is just a tiny little bean size dot at the end of the stick touching the ground, giving you an idea of where you are located and distinguishing surface differences. For example, the difference between the sidewalk and the street or the grass. The fact that you know it is a sidewalk and not the street is because there is a drop off from the sidewalk to the street. How you know the difference from the sidewalk to the grass is the difference in the feeling from the grass to the sidewalk. All visual references are now seen through physical changes. The changes all felt with the bean size spot on the bottom of the stick.
So, now back to the gym. With my friend’s help, I went out the back stairs and took a left. Boom! I ran into some flower pots. I worked my way around them and took a right. I counted about 30 left steps and then took a left across the open sidewalk. I had to step across the sidewalk because the right side had no ability for me to know if I was on the sidewalk or the street. The beauty of the old cobblestone for you has become an added stress for me. I took about 40 left steps and then hit a flower bed that was raised off the ground about 12 inches. I followed this for about 30 left steps and then took a right across the sidewalk and hit the grass. Finally, I followed the grass until I felt a lip in the sidewalk pop up and then took a left until I hit the top of the stairs where the gym was right below.
Now, it sounds quite easy to most of you. The difficulty is that it’s completely black for me and I cannot see anything. Students were walking all around me and I was cutting through them. I kept saying, “excuse me” to everyone I thought I interrupted. I asked my friend if people were angry at me and he said, “no, they just walk around you like nothing is wrong.” That was comforting.
So, after I walked to the gym once, I walked back to my office and did it all over again with my friend. You see, me running through it once is not enough. I have to walk it multiple times to memorize the route. Hopefully, the next time I attempt to wonder my way to the gym I do not get lost.
Asking for help is imperative for me to live a normal life. Never be afraid to ask for a hand.