You might have noticed a comment now and then on my blog from a person called Driver Dan. He is a real person, and he is a driver for The Red Cross. I am transported twice a week by The Red Cross to swim at a city pool, and often, my driver is Dan. I don’t know his real last name, but I do know that today is his birthday. His pen name is Daniel Boyd, and he has just published a murder mystery. So Dan, since I don’t know a more direct way to wish you a happy birthday, and because this is my blog, and I can say what I want on it, Happy Birthday, and many happy returns.
It’s another snow day for much of the country, but it’s too cold to go out and play in it. Moms and dads are breaking out new packs of crayons, teaching their kids new card games, making fudge, baking cookies, letting their kids watch way too much TV,and inventing games to keep the troops occupied. I remember those days, but now, instead of entertaining little kids, I’m having to find ways to entertain my guide dog, Dora. Yes, my dog is bored. I know. Dogs lie around the house all the time when their people are out working all day, That’s what dogs do. But guide dogs are used to havivng a job to do.
I don’t mind walking in winter weather. I walk every day, except when it is so frigid that you can get frostbite in 10 minutes. Dora and I have a daily routine of playing ball in the back yard and then going out for a walk each morning. Lately, we’ve just been doing the ball-playing part of the routine, and today, she had to wait until afternoon, because it didn’t get up above 0 until then. All morning, she moped around. She kept looking at me with those sorrowful eyes. I know, I can’t see her eyes, but I know they were sorrowful. She even climbed into my lap, which is not an easy feat, considering she is more than half my weight. It was time to get creative and find something for her to do.
After we had played with each of her many toys and exhausted their interest for her, I took her favorite 1 and told her to sit and wait in the kitchen. She wasn’t very good at this part, so I put her on tie-down, just for the minute it took me to go upstairs and hide that toy. Then I’d come back and release her and tell her to find the toy. She seemed to be quite proud of herself when she came back to me with it in her mouth. We repeated this game, with the variation of my hiding it in a different room each time. I don’t know whether she thought that was fun or she wondered why I kept taking her toy and putting it someplace goofy. But it took up about 10 minutes of a long and boring day.Tomorrow, we’ll try a version of hide and seek. I’m not sure how she’s going to do the part where she covers her eyes, and I run andhide, but we’ll work it out. Has this weather really reduced me to that?
You’ve never heard of the airport Package dance? Just ask a blind person who is traveling alone, and she’ll say, “It goes like this.”
AP, (Airport person) approaches and says, “I’ll take you to your gate, assist you onto the plane, take you to baggage claim.” BP (Blind person) says, “May I hold onto your right arm?” AP looks befuddled, tries to figure out which is his right arm, then grabs BP’s left arm. BP repeats, “I’ll hold onto your arm.” AP grabs BP’s left arm again. BP stands still and in an exaggerated patient voice says, “Put your arm down. Good. Now let me take your arm.”
Next dance is when AP leads BP to a chair. Instead of saying, “A chair is directly in front of you, to your left, or to your right,” she puts both hands on BP’s shoulders and turns her around until her back is to the chair. BP says, “Next time, please just tell me where the chair is. You don’t have to put me in the chair.”
Next dance is when AP shows up with a wheelchair. “Right over here ma’am,” he says and gently pulls BP toward the chair. “I don’t need a wheelchair,” BP says. “I’d rather walk.” “Are you sure?” “Yes, I can walk.” AP looks disappointed and somewhat confused. Now he has a much harder task, guiding a BP instead of pushing her.
Another dance is done on the plane. A wellmeaning attendant says, “Here, you can sit in this seat up front. You don’t need to go back to your assigned seat.” Then passenger who has ordered the seat the BP is now sitting in says, “I am supposed to be in that seat.” Then flight attendant says, “Sir, you can sit somewhere else.” BP looks embarrassed, because she is just sitting where she was told.
Final dance happens at the end of the flight. “Just stay seated until all the other 9,476 passengers have exited, and I will assist you.” BP thinks “No way. When there is a break in the line of tromping passengers, BP standds up and walks to the front. Flight attendant, now worried, says, “Just sit here and wait. Someone will come to assist you, sometime in the next 45 minutes or so. BP says, “I can walk up the jetway on my own. My daughter is waiting at the gate.” Flight attendant says in disbelief, “Are you sure?” BP says, “Why would I prefer to sit here while my daughter waits at the top of the jetway, when I’m perfectly capable of walking up there myself?” No, BP doesn’t really say that, just smiles and says, “Yes, I’m sure.”
The reason I call it The Package Dance is that My friend, Deborah Kendrick, one of the savviest travelers I know, says “They want to treat you like a package. I’m not a package. I’m a person.” Deborah has an extra twist to this dance. Flight attendant grabs BP’s carry-on to stow it overhead. BP grabs it back to stow it under the seat in front of her, so she can get to it. Another AP takes her second carry-on and stowes it under the plane, without telling her.
My message in this post is, if you’re an AP, please don’t grab my stuff, or push me, stear me, turn me, or plunk me down like a package. On the other hand, maybe I should be a package. Slap a label on me, and stick me on a UPS truck next time. It would be a lot less stressful.