Why little blind girls don’t travel much

A CTA Brown Line train leaving the Madison/Wab...

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With the holidays coming up, my friends are all talking about their travel plans.  Me, I’m staying put for various reasons, but I keep thinking about the time I wanted to see my father for his sixtieth birthday.  Now, I don’t drive, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, and I live in a fairly rural area without mass transit or a train station.  My father lives a couple of hours away near a Major Metropolis, too far away for a taxi.  So what is a little blind girl to do?

Well, hey, there’s this bus that runs from our town to a neighboring town that has a train station.  Would I be able to take this bus to that town and catch a train to somewhere near my dad?  From what I heard, the train only hit that town about once a month.  I’d have better luck riding there on a cow.  Plenty of those around.  But wait!  The train was leaving in the middle of the afternoon on the actual day my father turned sixty; perfect!  So I’ve got it all planned out:  taxi ride to the bus stop, bus to the train station, train to Major Metropolis, mass transit to a stop near my father’s house, and then my stepmother can pick me up and give me a 5-minute ride to surprise my father for his birthday.  And it will only take four hours!  That’s only twice the amount of time it would take to get there if I could drive!  It’s the little things in life.

Now, I really should have seen this next part coming.  The day came; I took off work and was waiting for the train, for which I had already purchased a ticket.  Clutching said ticket and two forms of identification, I waited, waited, waited…checked on the train status…the train was expected to be an hour late.  Sigh, call stepmother, let her know.  I waited, waited, waited…checked on the train status again…the train was expected to be three hours late.  Panic, call stepmother, eat lots of junk food.  This is what I do when I’m upset.  By rights, I should weigh four hundred pounds.  Finally, three and a half hours late, the train pulled into the station.  I threw myself on board before anyone had a chance to leave me behind, curled up in my seat, and thumped my head softly against the window.  There’s probably a scientific explanation for why that seems to help with stress.  Maybe to give you a physical explanation for the pounding in your head? But I was on my way.

Glitch #2:  Fare cards were required for mass transit.  Crap.  What, seriously?  You don’t take credit cards?  Detour to ATM for cash withdrawal and fare card purchase.  Pounding in head near critical levels.

I arrived at Major Metropolis a mere six hours after leaving home, exhausted, wrinkled, and thoroughly fed up with my fellow human beings, especially the ones in the travel industry.  My stepmother had been delaying dinner and attempting to keep my father from getting suspicious, but even stepmothers can only be so devious.  She snuck out on a pretext, snatched me up, and bundled me back to the house driving at what seemed significantly higher than the speed limit, but I couldn’t be sure because it had gotten dark out by then, despite my having left before noon.

By the time I showed up on my father’s doorstep that night, I’d taken a taxi, a bus, a train, mass transit, and bummed a ride from family.  I felt like I should have thrown in a canoe trip somewhere, just to complete the list.  You know the stress most people get from traveling?  Yeah.  Multiply that by about fifty thousand.  So I rummaged through my bag, pulled out my father’s slightly squashed present, walked through the door, and said “Surprise!” to my darling dad.  And you know what?  He was really surprised and really happy, and it all became worth it right then.  It wasn’t until I smelled dinner that I remembered that I’d only eaten a banana, a muffin, and five pounds of sugar over the course of the day.  In retrospect, maybe not the best diet while traveling.

So remember me when you travel during the holidays, you lucky b*stards.  When you’re in your comfortable cars and planes and going straight from point A to point B, think of me.  And all you guys who have to travel from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles to eventually get to Atlanta, I feel you.  And bring painkillers, because it’s going to start hurting after a while when you’re banging your head against the window.  Oh, and go easy on the sugar.  Trust me on this.

Bags of boxes and boxes of bags

This is a joke that my mother and I have with each other: Because I can’t drive to the store (no licenses for the legally blind) and I get tired of calling a taxi for every little thing, I order a lot of stuff on the internet.  Delivery has gotten super-fast and you can usually get free shipping if you try.  Even if you can’t, it’s still cheaper to ship than to pay for a taxi.  So the UPS guy knows me really well.  He actually saw me walking home from work one day, turned the truck around, and pulled over to give me a package that had just arrived.  If for some random reason he’s reading this blog, thanks UPS guy!  That was really cool.

Probably the most annoying part of all this, other than endlessly signing those “Please leave at the door” slips, is the number of boxes I end up with.  Our apartment building won’t let us throw boxes down the trash chute and we only have a dumpster outside the building on Monday evenings, and it’s a tiny dumpster.  So I inevitably end up with this big pile of boxes and no way to get rid of them.  Why not cut them up, put them in garbage bags, and put them down the trash chute that way, you ask?  All perfectly legal, all management-sanctioned, all a really bad idea.  I can’t cut up most of the boxes with scissors, so I would have to use a box-cutter, and after the incident where I accidentally stabbed myself in the wrist and had to spend a week explaining to the people I work with that I wasn’t attempting suicide, I decided that was not a viable option.

Hence my joke with my mother.  Every time she visits, I put her to work knocking down the boxes with a box-cutter and putting them in garbage bags so we can put them down the trash chute.  We end up with bags of boxes, and of course we get boxes of bags to put the boxes in, and after a while we started making up a song that goes, “Bags of boxes and boxes of bags.”  That’s it, really, lyrics-wise.  We think it’s hilarious.  We dance around while we sing it.  What brought this to mind was the unfortunate run-in I had with my current pile of boxes this morning.  My mother hasn’t visited in a while and there’s been a bit of a pile-up, so to speak.  I wasn’t paying enough attention to where I was going and knocked into the pile.  The boxes came crashing down around me–I thought I was being attacked at first, they all went for my head–and when they settled, the boxes literally came up almost waist-high.

Mom is coming to visit next weekend.  I think I may have to take her car keys before she sees the pile of boxes waiting to be put into bags.  But if they decide to attack her, at least she’ll have the box-cutter to defend herself with.