Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Great things about being blind. Bad bus experiences turned good.

I've had many city bus experiences over the years. Most good. Some not so good. There was the time when I was headed for a job interview and the driver let me off at the wrong place and I wandered the neighbourhood looking for the interview spot. Then, my briefcase strap broke, a button popped off my jacket, and it started to rain. I didn't get the job. One time last summer when I was meeting friends for lunch, I asked the driver for a very specific stop. We got to a stop and he said it was mine. As I got off, I asked again if it was the right one and he said yes. On exiting the bus, I found myself in the middle of residential nowhere. No one around to ask. Nothing around me. I called my friends on their cell phones. Cell phones can be life savers for people who are blind. I asked if they could see me. They said the couldn't. They drove the bus route looking for my guide dog and I and we were at least ten minutes driving time away. I wonder if the driver didn't want a quietly-listening-to-podcasts blind woman on his bus with an extremely well behaved golden guide dog? Very strange. Anyway, now we have automated bus stop calling. This is generally good. In the past, especially if I was on a route where you couldn't identify stops by the turns of the bus, the climbing of a hill, etc, bus riding could be very stressful. I would sit and feel for turns, for clues, and I would ask drivers to remember my stop. Most drivers are very good and do so. But now with the automated system, I can hear each stop announced and know where I am. Unless, as happened yesterday, the name of the street I wanted wasn't called out. I knew we were getting close and so I asked the driver repeatedly what stop I needed. He didn't answer until it was too late and then he had turned onto another street. Then, he further infuriated me by saying I could stay on his bus until he came back to that street. 45 minutes later! I don't have better things to do than sit on a bus when I need to meet someone in ten minutes? I got off the bus. This is where the bus journey turns very very good. A woman got off and said she had heard me ask repeatedly for a stop, that she lived right near where I was going and would be happy to walk there with me. She asked if I wanted to take her arm. She chatted naturally and animatedly to me all of the way back. If I had gotten off at the right stop, I would have known exactly where I was. As it was, I did not. I don't know this area of the city well. She was so great and natural. If you ever read this, I'm the woman with the little black lab guide you helped on March 8 international women's day. Thank you so much. And to all of you wonderful bus drivers who have helped me over snowbanks, given great directions, etc, thank you too. My friend Lisa has a great blog at
This woman did a great deed for me yesterday so thanks to her.
The bus journey was not great, but the great conversation and natural and nice help I got from a total stranger, made up for it. No bus trips today for me. Off to do some accessibility training. Remember if you want to book me as a storyteller, disability awareness presenter, please contact me at

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