Scraping By

*scrape* *scrape* *taptaptap*

*scrape* *scrape* *taptaptap*

That is the sound of me walking down the sidewalk.  My cane can be a little noisy sometimes, but it’s use far outweighs any noise pollution I may make.  I’ve seen other blind people use their canes relatively quietly, but I prefer to use the sound as a herald.  It announces my arrival and is an indicator for people to move out of the way.  I don’t like tripping people (usually). When I do it’s (usually) an accident.  People are (usually) understanding, even in the library. One time, however, I was cutting through the building at Georgia State University that houses the school of law as well as the law library and a new sound popped out at me:

*scrape* *scrape* “Shhh!”

I paused for a second because I thought something had gone wrong with my cane, maybe I  swiped over something on the ground, I look and didn’t see anything and proceeded along my path.

*scrape* *scrape* “Shhh!”

This time I look over to see a person in the lobby scowling at me, while looking at me they place their finger to their lips. My jaw dropped so low I bruised my chin and that is when the evil part of my personality seized control.  What followed after being shushed in a public space can only be described as a drum solo with one stick.  Every inanimate object was dinged, banged and scraped as I made my way out, I even purposefully got “lost” close to the shusher just to expand the time I would be near.  I felt I should go out with a bang (literally).

The scrape/tap got me another time when I was apartment hunting.  I was looking at some places that had hard wood floors, after I entered the apartment and was looking around (with eyes and cane) the leasing agent turned to me and said: “that’s not going to damage the floor is it?” I cocked my head to the side and replied: “What? my metal cleats?” and proceeded to ignore his question.  Now, I’ve had some canes where this would have been a legitimate question. I had a cane that was missing the tip and would literally throw sparks when I was walking on pavement, I had an old NFB cane where the metal tip had worn off on one part leaving a kind of opened tin can effect.  This was not, however, one of those canes; this one was fairly new with a nice healthy tip on the end.  Nothing of which to be afraid.

The sound of the scrape/tap alerts the sighted to grab their children, leap to the side or stand dead still. Basically it makes everyone dramatic.  Do you have any experiences like this you would like to share?

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People with disabilities have the right to be independent, make decisions for themselves, have access to their community and to achieved goals in life like any other individual. disABILITY LINK is committed to promoting the rights of ALL people with disabilities.
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