Saturday, August 11, 2007

CTA Stories: Is this a test, and did I pass?

Earlier this week, I was riding the Red Line to the Loop. I took a window seat near the door. A woman sat next to me; she was 30ish, blondish, and had a lot of luggage, some of which directly blocked my exit path. At the next stop, a blind man entered, feeling his way with a long, white cane. He found two empty seats next to the door, and directly kitty-corner to ours. He propped his cane next to him, and took out a braille copy of The National Geographic. It was fascinating to see him skim the raised dots. The movement of his fingers nearly replicated a reader's gaze, pausing to carefully scan items of interest, and brushing past those which didn't quite engage.

My stop, Jackson, was next. I stood and tried to negotiate my way past the woman's carry-on bag. Absorbed in her Blackberry, she swiveled her legs to one side, without standing. That made it extra difficult to get out. I staggered a little and bumped into the blind man's cane, knocking it over. The subway doors opened, which meant I had about 15 seconds to get off the train. I apologized to the man, who I then realized was also deaf. I kneeled down and tried to lift his cane back up, but the tip was stuck under the carry-on bag. While I was trying to do this in time to still make it out of the door, the woman leaned over and said "Excuse me, do you know how to spell 'casket?'" Huh? "Uh...C.A.S...K.E.T." While I was spelling, I managed to right the cane and catch the door just before it closed. "Thanks!"

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