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Monday, March 2, 2009

Ready To Give Up

If you've been reading this blog, you know I'm having
ongoing trouble with the local transporation service. This
is my third entry on the subject and the fourth about
mobility in general. It seems like there's no end to this
issue. After today's misadventure, I'm feeling rather
discourage. I'm about ready to give up.
I knew it wouldn't be easy. I expected some bumps along the
way. I just never imagine it would be so hard. What is the
problem? Pick me up. Drive ten minutes to campus. Drop
me off. Apparently it's not that simple.
In some ways, what happened today was my own fault. I
didn't sleep at all last night. I've been exhausted all
day. I was pretty much in a daze while riding the bus.
And, without realizing it, I deviated from my routine. One
simple little question might have avoiding all the
trouble... but I never asked it.
Sometimes I think my life is ruled by Murphy's Law. The one
time I forgot to confirm my destination, is, of course, the one
time they took me to the wrong place. It's always like that for
me.
I knew something was majorly off from the very beginning.
There was no mat in the entrance. That is always the first
thing I feel with my cane when I enter the Languages
building. But I felt no mat today. Could they have
removed it? Could I be at the wrong door again?
I took a few tentative steps forward. Now I did walk over a
rug. It was in the wrong place and was the wrong texture.
I found the wall. It was brick, not smooth like in the
Languages building. Maybe they changed the mats but I don't
think they changed the walls. I was in trouble.
I went back and explored the entrance area again.
Everything was wrong. The hallway was much too wide. There
were three doors instead of just one. I found a bench to
sit on. Even that was shaped different. This simply could
not be the Languages building.
I called out, "Excuse me? Can someone please help?" I heard
people moving about but no one came to help me. I waited a
few minutes and repeated my plea. This time a woman came
and tapped my arm.
I explained the situation and told her I was unsure about
my location. I told her to tap my right hand to say "yes"
or my left hand to say "no." I asked, "Am I in the
Languages building?" She said "no." My heart sank.
What to do? The most important thing I needed to know was
my location. I explained to the woman how to use her
index finger like a pen and print imaginary letters on my
palm. This is called "Print-On-Palm." It is an easy and
universal way for someone to communicate with a person who
is deaf-blind. Print-On-Palm is something that can be used
for communication in almost any setting when the other
person does not know sign language. It's a good skill to
use in an emergency situation when it's vital to receive
information from people in the general public.
I asked this woman to write in my palm and tell me the name
of the building. She informed me I was in the History
building. Just one building over. So close to me actual
destination. It was a relief to at least know where I was.
I thanked the woman. I really did appreciate her
willingness to help. Some people just won't try strange new
things like talking to a person who is deaf-blind.
I took my Braille Note M Power out of my backpack. How to
solve this situation would depend greatly on if my M Power
would connect to the campus wireless system. It will from
the Languages building but not all buildings have wireless
access. I had no idea if the History building did.
It took me ten minutes to go through each menu and sign
into the wireless. My hands were shaking and I kept making
mistakes. I had to reset the machine twice when it froze
up. If it didn't connect, I wasn't sure what I would do.
Thank goodness I was able to get online. I sent an SOS
email to my father's cell phone. I told him where I was and
let him know I was okay, just stuck. He sent a reply
telling me he'd be there in a few minutes. Whew.
My father called the bus service while on his way to campus.
They told him it was there mistake and their responsibility
to fix the problem. They would send a supervisor to get
me. He went back home.
I didn't know about any of that. When someone tapped my
shoulder, I thought it was my dad. It was obviously
someone else. I took a guess and asked if it was the bus
driver. She said, "yes." So I went with her. She
walked me down some stairs, out the door, across some side
walk, and into a new door. I felt with my cane... there was
the rubber map. I was in the Languages building. It was
over.
I followed the mat and then found the wall. I walked in
front of one of the long benches. I whacked two students
with my cane. (Hey... I had a lot of stress to work off!)
Then I walked over a mat and past another door.... Huh?
It's supposed to be a long hallway. I pass three of those
benches and many classrooms before coming to the second
door. This made no sense. I sniffed but didn't smell
coffee. The bulletin board was too close to the door and
not as long. I tried crossing the hallway but it was too
wide. Where was the elevator?
I went back to the door and tried again. I ran into the
newspaper basket and a recycling bin that shouldn't have
been there. I walked around a corner that usually isn't
there. I was lost! Not again! Not again!
This was the closet I came to panic the whole day. I
thought my ordeal was over but here I was in another strange
location. I leaned against the wall and took a deep
breath. I could do this. I had to do this.
Once again, I used my voice to call out for help. Someone
came right away. I asked this person to lead me to the
elevator. She did so. We were no where near the elevator.
No where near where I should have been. The driver had
apparently taken me to yet another door. This was a part of
the building I had never been in.
The elevator felt like a safe haven. Everything was right.
Every last little detail was as it should be. I was finally
back on track. I was shaken and spooked, but I was okay. I
had found my way back into control.
I'm still pretty shocked by what happened today. This
wasn't just a few missteps. I was actually in a totally
different place and had to get myself back. The fact that
these problems keep happening is discouraging. Is it me?
Am I just not up to being independent? Am I fooling myself
into thinking I can do this?
Here's the big question: Am I really going to give up?
(sigh) No. No matter what is going on, no matter how bad
it seems right now, I won't give up. I'm not a quitter. If
I was a quitter, I never would have made it this far in
life. I would have given up a long time ago.
So my ride is scheduled for Wednesday. Hopefully it will be
better next time. I'll certainly remember to always
confirm my destination before I get off the bus. Maybe I'm
not doing so bad with independent travel. After all, i
haven't ended up in Mexico yet.

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