By Judy Sanders
(Editor’s Note: I have known Judy Sanders since I joined the Federation over twenty years ago. In fact, she was one of the primary people who recruited me into the organization. If you know Judy, you know she is always learning something new and always willing to teach what she learns. In this essay, we discover the importance of keeping track of our possessions, and we also learn how to problem-solve when we inevitably lose track of something., as we all do from time to time.)
We can mitigate the inconveniences of blindness by cultivating good organizational habits. One of the most important habits is to keep everything in its place. Having said that, we all know that we don’t always follow our own rules.
Whenever I come home my cane goes in the corner by the front door. However, there was the time when it wasn’t there. A friend was picking me up and we were in a hurry. I wanted to be outside waiting for her but my cane wasn’t by the door. Trying a methodical search in all corners didn’t work. I was beginning to panic because I did not want to be the cause of us being late. Then came the lecture to myself. “Think back to when you came home! What did you do upon entering the apartment? What else can I use for a cane?”
I remembered that the phone was ringing and I hurried to answer it. I widened my search beyond the corners to the pathway leading to the phone. Bingo! Stepping on it in the hallway made my day.
I now keep two canes in my corner by the front door. A few months ago I was watching The Home Shopping Channel where they were demonstrating a small icemaker. They convinced me that it would be the perfect thing to make ice for my coffee or easily make ice for serving cold drinks to company. They promised that I would have it in less than two weeks just in time for summer.
Upon getting the notice that the icemaker had arrived I headed out the door to pick it up. It occurred to me that the carton would be heavy and bulky; so I unlocked my door for easier access on my return.
Our concierge offered to carry it upstairs but I said I could manage.
He said, “Well, at least let me press the button on the elevator.”
“Sure,” I said. “Please press three.”
With my two hands full and my cane on my shoulder I stepped into the elevator. (Maybe for next year’s essay I’ll write about cane technique.)
The elevator door opened and I stepped out and walked down to the end of the hall.
Entering the apartment I immediately felt that something wasn’t right. I walked forward into the living room and went to place the package on the table—but there was no table! Carefully placing the carton on the floor I cautiously looked around. It took less than five seconds for me to realize that I was in the wrong apartment. Fleeing as quickly as possible with my bulky package seemed advisable.
Heading toward the elevator I knew my first step was to figure out where I was. Looking at the outside marker I discovered that I was on the fourth floor. (Let’s hear it for braille signs!)
I headed down one floor and made the welcome trek to the right apartment. It felt good to be home! I was gratified to know that no one saw me.
I wanted to understand how this happened. Beginning with an examination of my own actions, (or lack thereof), I realized that I did not pay attention to what was happening around me. The elevators in my building announce floors every time we stop. But I wasn’t paying attention.
And then I wondered why the concierge pressed 4 when I definitely said 3. I learned from my reader that the address on my package was Apartment 403. That was the number for my previous apartment.
And now comes the rest of the story.
Two days after this incident I prepared to leave my apartment where the last thing I did was reach for my white cane. It is always in the corner by my front door. I know this because the first thing I do when returning home is to place it there. My corner should have two canes in it because of my extra cane in case one breaks. Imagine my surprise when I found only one cane! After time spent looking around my apartment I sat down to think. Where was it?
The only possible conclusion was that the missing cane was in Apartment 401. I must have automatically put the cane in the corner upon entering the apartment and, because my hands were full and I was in a hurry I left it behind. With much dread, I walked upstairs one flight and approached 401.
Standing outside the door I hoped to hear nothing and that I might find an unlocked door. No such luck. Timidly, I knocked and listened as someone approached.
“May I help you?” a gentleman asked.
Sheepishly, I said that I had a question and then I would explain.
“Would you look behind your door and tell me if you see a white cane that looks like this one?”
In an awed tone he said, “Why, yes there is!”
I began the explanation by saying, “Just like you I left my door open. But I inadvertently came to the wrong floor carrying a large package. When I exited your apartment I left my white cane behind.”
The man exploded with laughter and I joined in.
There must be a moral to this story; I will leave you to figure it out. I just thought it was funny.