….and I swear this is true, I had to drive a blind girl to math class.
I left home too late to take the bus, but early enough that by driving I got there quite a bit early. I got a good parking space in a side street (you guys, my parallel parking is perfect now) and was excited that I had time to take a little nap and listen to NPR.
I saw a girl who appeared to be blind coming toward me with a seeing-eye dog who was clearly new on the job. She (the dog) looked like an adolescent and apparently thought she was out on a walk since she kept wandering off the sidewalk to sniff stuff and almost leading the girl into the street, and generally not keeping her mind on her job. We were all young once.
So that was a little concerning, but I figure she knows her business and it's probably bothersome to have strangers coming up to her assuming she doesn't know what she's doing. However. Just as she drew even with my car her phone rang, and as soon as she answered it she started sobbing and shouting. I heard her say, "I don't know where I am!!!" and, "I can't be late again because of this!"
Well, shit. This is basically my nightmare. Going blind is probably my greatest fear, and while of course there are lots of different degrees of blindness and tens of thousands of people in America alone get by perfectly well, it just strikes terror in my heart in a really primal way.
So obviously I had to get out and help, and at first I thought she just needed to give directions to the person on the phone and maybe be walked to the intersection. Actually, apparently her jackass friend had dropped her off with the dog and then just left, I guess? The dog, it turns out, is new, and they had only had a couple of weeks of training in New Jersey and the dog was totally unfamiliar with Austin, so I have no idea what anyone was thinking to turn her loose downtown, alone.
She really needed to get to her math class at the community college whose branch was just a few blocks away because she was afraid they'd drop her if she was late again (but, seriously, does she not get special accommodation or something?), so I told her we had plenty of time and I'd drive her. We got there in time for her to be early to class, and she was so grateful and, I dunno, humble, that it hurt my heart. We chatted in the car a little about how she'd come to be in this predicament, but I'm not too clear on the details because I didn't know how to say, "Why is your friend such an asshole?"
I'm not posting this for, like, congratulations. This was such a small thing that really any human would have done, and actually I deeply regret not giving her my phone number in case this happens again. The image of her crying in the street with basically only a puppy to help her has been haunting me and I guess I just needed to tell someone about it. I want to get her my contact information, but there's really no way to call her school and be like, "so you have a blind girl in one of your math classes at 9am? Could you give her my number?" She also had an old-style flip phone and I wonder if there's a way I can get an iPhone for her from work so she can maybe use Siri at least. Because how would I even have given her my info? Just program it in her phone for her?
Anyway, this turned out to be a longer story than I thought. I'm just really shaken.