An Orientation and Mobility instructor – a person who provides assistance to people who are blind or vision impaired to travel independently, once said to me that a person with a vision impairment has the right to travel with grace, dignity and efficiency.
My daily commute to work starts out like this but is usually interrupted along the way. A person yelling ‘OVER HERE’ when you walk towards the wrong barrier at the train station, someone grabbing you by your backpack to guide you – without initially speaking or communicating, a train driver explaining where a door is like he is giving instructions to a 4 year old child and my favourite – the constant belief that you will need to sit down on the train, bus or tram.
On the flip side, there’s the people that just ignore you completely, treating you like you are not actually there. A woman – rushing for a train, slams into my shoulder, but says nothing, keeps running, she crashes in to a woman further along her path, and apologies heartedly to her.
Yesterday on my way to work, I hopped on a bus parked in my bus’s bay – I had suspicion it wasn’t my bus – this was quickly confirmed when I enquired with the bus driver ‘Excuse me, is this the 902?’ to which he barks ‘NO!’ – clearly not in a chatty mood nor possessing any of the social graces that society may expect of him. But at least what he says is quick and to the point. Though I did miss my bus, which had pulled in to the bay before, and had departed by the time I’d hopped off the ‘NO!’ bus.
I remember last year on my walk to the train station, being confronted by a bike rider who felt the need to instruct me to ‘KEEP LEFT, KEEP LEFT’ so he could ride along the footpath.
Lectures on social étiquette are all too common in my expereience – like bus drivers who seem to feel the need to tell you, in a loud voice, to wait for passengers to exit the bus before you board.
And why people feel the need to physically grab you, to move you to that train door that you couldn’t possibly find on your own. I call it Compulsory Physical Assistance, because it’s like you have to accept it or people get angry or annoyed or confused. Its funny how also when you pull away, they grab you again, because clearly you don’t know what you’re doing. One morning at Camberwell station – it happened four times before this guy finally worked out that maybe I don’t need help.
So yes – one day I will complete an entire journey with grace, dignity and efficiency. One day.