MOBILITY MATTERS: STEPPING OUT IN FAITH
A MODEL TO FOLLOW
One of the people I most admire is my former Orientation and Mobility Instructor, who is one hundred percent blind.
For those of you who are visiting my blog for the first time, an O & M instructor is one who teaches you to orient and navigate various, mostly public areas in order to retain your independence. This would be crossing a variety of streets, buses and trains, restaurants, but it can even take place in your home in order to keep you safer.
Once I got past my denial, I could see him in a new way.
I admired him for his not only his cane skills but also his teaching skills. He was tough, no-nonsense and challenging in a let-me-figure-it=out-on-my-own kind of way. He also knew when to calm me down and encourage. Best of all, he modeled a perspective of success. He did not let other people determine his outlook. I will never forget that!
Bob had excellent cane skills and challenged me to solve my own problems in our mobility training. Best of all, he modeled a perspective of success. He did not let other people determine his outlook.
Read the following excerpt and see these traits in action.
As I moved forward again, I caught the tail end of an order. “…So I’ll have a Bud.” From
the gushing that I heard, I guessed the beer was on tap. Some laughter followed, and an old, tinny voice cut through my thoughts. “Ye’re a good fella. Keep it comin’, son.” I heard the loud smacking of wet lips and more laughter.
Suddenly, I couldn’t move. I boxed myself into a corner and got tangled up in the legs of whatever blocked the passage. I longed for a giant hand to lift me out and place me on the path again. Where is the way through? A-m-y, focus! People must be staring. “Uh…uh…Bob!”
“I’m here. You’re doing great. Go ahead. I’m right behind you.”
“No way, I’m stuck. There are like some cords and chairs and something big.” The more trapped I felt, the squeakier my voice became. “Everywhere I turn, I’m just stuck. Why aren’t they helping me? Why doesn’t someone move something so I can get out?”
“I don’t think anyone is there, or they would have.” Bob’s steady voice calmed me. I half-hoped that he would change places with me and take the lead. Obviously, I wasn’t doing a good job on my own. Instead, he began to instruct me. “Can you reach out and touch the chair? You’ll have to move it yourself if it’s light. If not, turn around and inch yourself backward until you find space to move again.”
Geez. He certainly doesn’t mollycoddle me. He just believes I’ll rise to the occasion.
Finding that I couldn’t move the chair—which by now seemed wider and more like a table—I backed up, crossed over some kind of hose in the grass and timidly tapped the round ball of my cane around some bags and boxes before shifting forward. Once I could move, I could breathe freely again, and the claustrophobia receded. My breath came in quick, rasping pants. Maybe I was hyperventilating.
“Bob?” pant! pant! “Are you there? Bob. Where are we?” pant! “BOB!”
“I’m right beside you. Amy, are you all right?”
I trembled for a few seconds. “Yes, I’m fine.”
“Good,” he said matter-of-factly. “Now is the time to ask someone where we are.”
Before I could get the words out of my mouth, I felt a sudden burst of air and a sweaty body brushed up against my arm as wheels whizzed by my now-vertical cane. What was that? A skateboard?
There would never be a good time to ask, but Bob was right, I needed to find out. “Uh…Excuse me? Could you tell me where we are?”
“Now you at Perry Square.”
“We have to cross one more street,” Bob explained as if he’d known our location before I asked. “Lead the way, Sherlock.”
I had almost finished crossing a side street when I heard a tough lady’s voice “Hey, watch it. That’s a six thousand dollar paint job on my bike!” I tilted my head toward the voice. She seemed to be shouting at … who? Me! “Yeah, that’s right, chick-o, you!”
I heard a tough lady’s voice and tilted my head toward it. She seemed to be shouting at …who? Me! “Yeah, that’s right, chick-o, you!”
Me? I froze, terrified to take another step for fear my cane might do more damage. I was probably swinging it like a golf club without paying attention to where it landed. What if I had chipped her paint? This woman sounded seriously aggravated, as if she wanted to beat up this particular chick-o. What was I thinking? There must be a right and wrong way to arc my cane forward in a crowd, one that I hadn’t yet learned. Bob, what about that lesson?
“Did I tell you that this is also the weekend for ‘Roar on the Shore?’” Bob asked me dryly. “Eight thousand motorcyclists are gathered right here in the heart of downtown for the event.”
I felt faint. “Well, I don’t think I befriended that motorcycle mama.”
“Come on, let’s keep moving and find our target restaurant.” Bob’s voice took on a jovial tone meant to spur me forward. I took a long, deep breath and continued. “What address am I looking for?”
I thought about Bob’s response later and learned as much from that as I did my mobility training itself. My trainer had learned to sweep away negative criticism as easily as he took the next sweep of his cane to move forward. The more I thought about it, the more I liked his approach.
We’ve all been criticized for something we had little or no control over. Can you think of a situation in which you wanted to retaliate but kept silent? Share it in the comments below.
You’ve just read, “A Model to Follow” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright October 2, 2014. If you liked this post, click LIKE, SHARE and leave a comment. Thanks!