I don’t have to be good.
In my long-legged life I have met some extraordinary people. One that always amazed me was a Japanese woman who would come into the coffee shop to study. She was working on her doctoral dissertation and enjoyed the atmosphere.
Probably the first time I noticed her was when she went to the ladies restroom. As she opened the door, the barista called out, “The light switch is on the outside of the room.”
The woman walked into the dark and closed the door—without turning on the light! I was concerned that she had not heard the warning. Before I could get to the other side of the room to turn on the light, she exited. It was then I noticed her dog. Her seeing-eye dog. She didn’t need the light because she had been blind from birth.
That first day after introductions, I said, “I bet you save a lot of money not needing to turn on the lights at your home.”
“Oh no, quite the contrary. Turning on the lights is the first thing I do when I walk in.”
I gave her a puzzled look even though she couldn’t see it. “Why is that?”
“Well, I don’t need the light. But robbers need the dark.”
She went on to explain that she could tell when a light is on as she enters a room. “It feels different. It hums.”
I closed my eyes and tried to listen for the lights. But I didn’t hear anything but the espresso/cappuccino machine as it frothed milk for a customer.
As she sat at the table, laptop open, dog always at her side, we became friends. I always enjoyed talking with her.
I was not the only one who didn’t notice she was blind. One evening as the store was about to close, as young man approached her and said, “It is dark outside and the alley way this time of night always has unsavory characters. Would it be okay if I walked you to your car?”
Without skipping a beat, she replied, “I didn’t drive tonight. And I already have a ride home. Thank you though.” She usually took the bus to her apartment. The young man kindly told her goodnight, yet left somewhat rejected by the woman he was hitting on.
She laughed. “Didn’t he see my dog?”
One slow evening, while I was bored at the cash register on the book side of the store, she approached me.
“Hello, Oklahoma.” Not her real name, I couldn’t pronounce her real name. That was close enough. She always knew me from my voice. Maybe my smell too.
Holding out her cell phone she asked me to take a picture of her for social media. Someone had sent her a shirt and she wanted to show them she had received it. A conversation ensued about her loving to take photos. Someone would say, “Wow, what a beautiful sunset!” She would take a picture of it and post it online asking people to describe it. Sometimes she aimed incorrectly and missed the sunset. Her friends were always honest with her. She loved posting pictures of the meals she had made. She was a good cook.
“I like trying things sighted people do,” she said.
Probably the most unique thing she showed me was a picture of her doing archery in medieval period costume! I found it funny that she chose the Age of Enlightenment. She belonged to a LARPing group in the area. Live Action Role Playing. The picture showed several arrows on a target.
“Are those your arrows?”
“How do you know where to shoot? Is there a bell or tone sound on the target?”
“Oh no,” she said, “I listen to where the other archers hit the target with their arrows, and I aim for that sound. I don’t have to be good. They do.”
The day we said goodbye was a sad day. From her strength and good humor, as well as her excellent attitude toward her “handicap,” she always encouraged me. Some day I plan on shooting a bow and arrow. I’m going to close my eyes and see how I do. Please dial 911 before I start that.