Stepping Out in Faith
FROM THE TOP TO THE TIP OF THE BOTTOM
All right.” I let out a long sigh. “I can at least try using a cane.”
Bob winked as if he were certain all along that he’d win me over. He bent down and felt around his feet, lifting a large black nylon bag I hadn’t even noticed him carry in. How could I not notice that big bag? “Superb.” He smiled confidently. ”Now what size do you think you’ll need?”
“Size? What do you mean?” Would I need other equipment, like special shoes?
“I’m referring to the length of the cane you’ll need,” he explained. “How tall are you?”
“Five foot one.”
“Fifty-two inches would be about right then.” He rummaged through his bag and extracted a folded cane, then slid his hand down the length of that section. “Yes, this is the one.” He seemed to be feeling for something else. “This cane has a marshmallow tip. That’s because it’s small and shaped like a marshmallow. Here, feel it.”
I tentatively reached out and slid my fingers over the smooth white tip.
He poked around again, his fingers feeling for a specific texture. In spite of myself, I was intrigued. He withdrew another cane. “Now this one has a more rounded tip. It’s called a gliding hook tip.” He held out the bottom to me. “Feel the difference?”
I pictured myself gliding effortlessly down the street. Gliding seemed good. Like ballroom dancing.
Bob took out another. “This one has a pencil tip. Feel how long and narrow it is.” I politely touched the pencil-like tip, which made me think of my teacher pointer. Bob went on. “This tip can fit into smaller areas, giving important tactile information.”
He surfaced again with yet another cane and tip. “This particular one comes with a roller ball tip. It’s perfectly round. See how smooth that is. It just rolls down the sidewalk.”
I noticed his voice took on that admiring tone sports car aficionados use as they describe the attributes of a 1965 Corvette. They rattle off any number of details about it. I almost asked how much mileage he thought this particular cane would get.
He explained how each cane was divided into four sections. “See this?” He stretched an elastic cord outside the red casing. “This enables the user to fold the cane up into neat sections. Isn’t that nifty?” Bob’s eyes sparkled.
For a moment, I softened toward him.
Bob, the Cane Man.
His voice took on a persuasive tone. “Want to try a few canes?” And go for a spin?
“Ah, well, hmm.…” I couldn’t get out of this situation without being outright rude.
“Try the fifty-two inch,” Bob said, deftly unfolding it. “Are you right-handed or left?”
He placed it in my hand, straightening my thumb and index finger while curling my others around the top. “Don’t worry about this elastic strap. It’s necessary to store the cane compactly when you aren’t using it. For now, let it hang. Just walk around the room,” he encouraged. “Back straight, head up.”
Was I a model now?
“Is that the right length? Would you like to try a shorter one? I have an excellent forty-nine inch. Lighter weight, too.”
I stretched out my hand to take the shorter cane. “So many choices and decisions!”
“Amy, fitting yourself with the best cane is key in how you progress. Ideally, your cane should be a little longer than you are tall to give you a better reach. You can experiment with length and tips until you find the one you feel best most comfortable with–then stick with it.”
“So Bob, your advice is to stick with one stick, is that it?” I grinned then frowned again. Comfortable! What was he talking about? I’d never feel comfortable with a cane of any kind.
“The cane you’re holding has a roller tip. Let’s try that now.”
I stepped out onto my hardwood floor. Roller Derby, here I come!