"You'll fall. You shouldn't be up there!" said Bill, my neighbor. His words floated up to me from where he stood by his side door.
Long white cane in hand, I was up on the roof of our one-story home walking along the edge of the roof checking the gutters for leaves and other debris that could impede drainage. We had been experiencing frequent summer rainstorms with heavy downpours and strong winds. Homeowners from around the community reported wind-driven leaves causing water to back up and leak into the interior of their homes. That was a problem I wished to avoid. I couldn't very well avoid Bill but I didn't answer him right off. He had voiced this opinion on several occasions and we had talked about it more than once while cooking brats on the barbeque while our wives made the side dishes.
My method for checking the gutters for debris is this: on the right arch, dip the tip of the cane down into the trough of the metal gutter, scraping along its floor searching for whatever may be there. On ground level I didn't often use my cane when I was moving around my property doing whatever, but up here, absolutely. Don't leave ladder without it, to coin a phrase. When Bill had called up to me I was nearing the end of the side of the roof facing his property and needed to pay attention to my location a lot more than his misguided, but well-meaning, comments.
At the corner of the house where the east-west and north-south gutters joined at a right angle, I felt a soggy clump of debris. (My home has what is called a hip roof, meaning that on all four sides the roof slants down to the same height, verses most houses that have a V-shaped roof requiring guttering only on two sides.) Kneeling, I carefully laid my cane securely down within the confines of the gutter, placing it so not to lose it over the side. (Having to maneuver over the roof without the aid of my cane was a slow and ignominious crawl, and a process to be avoided).
My fingers found a foot-long soupy collection of leaves and maple seed pods, those twirlly things that spin their way down each spring). Pitching it all over the side I answered Bill, who I could hear had followed along with my progress. “Boy, if I had a nickel for every one of these maple twirlly-whirlies that I've cleaned out of these gutters, I could hire someone to clean this mess out.” Actually I enjoyed being up on the roof, high over the clutter of all things that were grounded. There was always a breeze up here and a totally different auditory perspective.
“You really should have a service that can do all your outdoor work and home maintenance for you.” Then in what I took to be a stab at making amends for his obvious reference to my blindness, a topic he knew that I viewed differently than he, Bill said, “We aren't getting any younger!” (He was ten years my senior, but more to the point, greatly overweight while I'm still pretty fit.)
Well, I'm finished with my search and cleaning of the gutters. Found one additional gutter and drainage job that will take a bit more work, so guess I'll scare neighbor Bill one more time. There's a partial blockage in the north-west corner downspout at the back of the house. This job will require a screwdriver to disassemble the elbow piping which connects the gutter to the downspout.
Down off the roof, cane in hand, up the steps of our raised deck (the roof of this covered deck gives the best access to my roof), I headed into the house to fetch the screwdriver.
Coming back out, my head was into everything I had to squeeze into less than an hour --- my wife and I had to be at a friend's daughter's graduation party, a mental note to remember my cane was in the kitchen, I'd have to put tools away, put up the ladder, shower, dress, and don't forget the graduation present, and... "Oh no!" I was at the stairway before I was ready for it. My brain went from its state of preoccupation with future matters to the instance of now --- it was six feet down, I was totally out of control, falling, and there was no time to do anything.
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**1. In your fall, I'm not sure how much good the cane would have been because your brain was disengaged from the travel which your body was attempting. I have taken two falls down the stairs in my home, each stairway consisting of eight (8) steps. I've not broken anything, but have bent several fenders and fingers. In both instances I was preoccupied; my body and my brain were in different places and the automatic action of traversing steps which have been traversed a million times was not automatic. My lesson is to be more alert, just as if I were traversing the local street or sidewalk. In fact, I was not using my cane, because these were such a routine. When I depart or add another element to any routine, I seek out ye ole cane.
In a general sense, the lot on which my home resides has a garden, flower beds, picnic table, potholes, short steep rises, etc. I always use a cane, although when I work in a location for several minutes, I have been known to "lose" ye ole cane. I find that in routine travel my steps are of amazingly consistent length. I also find that I must carefully define routine. My bet is that I fall a lot faster than I walk. At least it feels that way when I hit the ground or floor.
Getting bent up is no great fun. But it reminds me how human I am, which I am glad to be. My job is to travel safely, not to increase my own danger.
Tom Stevens Mo
**2. Bill is obviously a good, concerned neighbor. But, I wonder if it ever occurred to him that his talking while you're on the roof, concentrating, could do more harm than good? Yes, there is the chance that a blind person, working on the roof, will fall. But, how many perfectly sighted people have fallen off their roof?
Personally, it's not something I'd like to try. But, this isn't because I'm blind. I don't think I would like it up there, even if I could see, and maybe especially not if I could see. But, home maintenance is something we all need to deal with. We either try to do it ourselves or hire someone to do it for us. But, just because we're blind doesn't mean that we're more likely than a sighted person to fall. Of course, if we're not paying attention, as happened as you walked to the steps, yes, there's a good chance of falling. But, I suspect that with the added height of the roof, most people are much more likely to take extra care when getting near the edge than they would just walking along a deck.
Cindy Handel Willow Street, PA
**3. I had to respond to this Thought Provoker in part because my husband, who has some remaining vision, hears things like this constantly from our neighbors, or at least did for a time. His hobby is caring for our half acre of land, all the trees, gardens and other landscaping. Mowing the lawn relaxes him. He cuts down branches with a chain saw, something that makes me cringe, but not because he is visually impaired. Chain saws period make me cringe. The neighbors used to comment about various things he'd do out there, asking how he did them or if such and such was safe. Now the wives use him as a prod to try to get their generally overweight, under enthused husbands to do their own yard work.
I think the most interesting thing my dear spouse tried to do was to figure out how to make a circular garden around the trees. He wanted it to be round on the outside, not to follow the shape of the tree or ground contours. Using the tree as the axis, he took a piece of rope and some flexible pipe and made a giant protractor to draw the circle. It was as if the tree had been set down into this circle of earth. The neighbors, and the lawn care service that does our major fertilizing were both stunned at the simplicity. Interestingly enough, the lawn care guy commented and when Kent said, "Well, leave it to the blind guy to get something aligned well." He noted that he hadn't even thought about Kent's vision problems, just that this was a really good solution to a problem.
Though Kent has enough vision to get around the property without a cane or his dog, I do not, and will use both when necessary, but not always. And just like the story, it's when I'm not paying attention without one or the other that I do something incredibly stupid, like running into a porch column and nearly breaking my kneecap.
**4. I always use my cane no matter if I am at home or going out. After all, I am blind no matter if it is while moving about my own grounds or going to the store. This habit came early on in my adjusting to having to travel differently and wisely.
The story as it unfolds in TP 135 shows me a man who apparently is a good cane user, but someone who has not committed to the use of the cane in all situations. I do not know this individuals circumstances, as to why he does not use his cane while working about his grounds, though it is clear in the story that it is a conscious choice he has made; speaks to that reality on two occasions within the short confines of the TP. And we see what happened to him. Going further with this, I will say, that even though a person has a cane in their hand, it does not guarantee his safety. As we saw in this scenario, the man came out of the house and was greatly preoccupied and so one might wonder, if he have employed the cane effectively would he have caught the drop-off? But I beg to offer this, for most of us who use the cane on a daily basis, it becomes a part of our system of awareness, almost one element that becomes automatic in its employment and within a source of stimuli which makes up our basis for special awareness and guidance in travel.
In summery, with this individual's refusal to use a cane while moving about on his property, he is a knowing gambler of life and lim. And that for the want of a cane, he fell. The question now is, when he gets back up and the lord willing he will be able to, will he take this as a lesson, "no cane and you will fall," and will he start using a cane in the future?
**5. I couldn't help but comment on this one. I think all of us who are blind have had disasters large or small happen as a result of not seeing that put a negative spin on blind independence. Some might say this is a vote against the protagonist making an effort to be independent, but I say it is all part of the process, even if sometimes (as is hinted at in this story) the disasters are major and debilitating. I myself fell down a flight of stairs my senior year in college, and ended up with 2 serious fractures that required surgeries, and landed me in a wheelchair, which is where I still am today. But while this was traumatic, I would never regret the years I lived independently on my own, and took the chance to explore the terrain with my cane, and learn new things that some thought was beyond my reach. Until that stupid stairway incident, I was succeeding. However, everyone, blind or not, has to take chances, and sometimes this leads to disasters. So why should blindness make a person's outlook any different? I have a brother (not blind) who went hiking himself (a real no no) and fell and seriously fractured his shoulder and had to wait for someone to rescue him. Whenever I talk to him and start complaining about my life activities being precarious, he reminds me that it is the same for everyone. No sympathy whatsoever... So I say bravo to anyone, blind or not, taking chances to achieve reasonable goals, where reasonable is determined by the individual. And if there are disasters, that is part of the process and should be prepared for.
**6. You have got to do what you have got to do. There is a certain satisfaction in doing things yourself, even when there is a possibility of getting hurt. I have often been in this position, and have had to learn to do things for myself. I can't always get someone to do them for me. If I do it I know it is done right. I applaud any blind person who takes a risk and does for themselves. Sighted people are always going to be skeptical of whether we can do things or not. I'm not sure I would get up on my roof, but this guy did. It is too bad he fell, but he did do the work himself. If the neighbor didn't think he should be doing it, he could have offered to do it.
Toni & Lenore
**7. Good thing you were not preoccupied on the roof. Which is my point. There are situations where a sense of urgency is essential. Being up on a roof would be categorized as one of those times and therefore, you were probably on hyper alert and being extra careful. Strolling through the familiarity of one's home, brings that level down a bit. There is a sense of being grounded, thus a sense of security. Falling several feet is dangerous, for sure. Falling from a one story building is quite another story. No pun intended. I have several observations to make:
1. As a visually impaired person, the thought of you on a roof sends shivers down my spine, but I do understand the need to feel competent and in control. The desire to maintain your home is understandable. Being able bodied, despite any number of visual issues, does not mean you can't clean gutters or do a myriad of other things. Your neighbor probably does not understand that you may have needed his assistance in helping you be safe, not help from hired services to do things for you. It would be nice if he could have been your point man. He distracted you with useless commentary about what you should and should not do instead of guiding you in a productive manner. It feels marvelous to complete my own tasks capably. My own personal example is that my sister will not allow me to bring my groceries in after I shop. I am strong and able bodied though I am visually impaired. It makes me crazy because I am certainly able to carry my own purchases. It was only after I had a calm, quiet conversation with her, did she realize what she was doing. I still have to remind her on occasion, but she just loves me and is concerned for me.
2. Perhaps a cane can be invented that has a multi tool feature attached?
**8. The moral of the story is simple: A blind person can do almost anything, as long as he's cautious and attentive. In fact, the whole thing is like an absurdly exaggerated "crossing-the-street" story (Thought Provoker #125), in which a sighted guy "marveled" at how a blind person could be a pedestrian. But it is also like "Pay Attention" (Thought Provoker #110), in which the man almost fell into an elevator shaft.
A simple rule of thumb applies here: No matter what a blind person is doing, if he has no bruises, cuts, or broken bones, then it's a safe bet that he can do it safely on his own. Even so, he is still just as likely to have an accident if he is distracted. Simple logic.
**9. I generally have my cane with me when outside the house especially if I need to go into the yard or go to the mailbox. If I'm just taking trash to the trash can in the carport, I don't bother with my cane. I am sure I could get around my yard without a cane, but it would be slow and my cane helps me keep from making a misstep off the edge of our driveway. Everyone has to do what they feel comfortable doing.
**10. Wow, you never can tell where you'll fall. A sighted person is terrified of a blind person working on a roof. He has mastered a technique that he's comfortable with and he has gotten the job done. He walks in the house and is getting ready for a party and absent mindedly falls down the stairs. This seems to me that anyone, blind or sighted could have this happen. I've been up on our roof with my dad there to see what it is like with that different hearing perspective, but I wouldn't want to be there alone. I'm glad this man's friend was watching him. I guess he lived to tell the tale when he fell down the stairs. He told us the story. I wonder if he had any injuries.
Leslie Old Hang
**11. I frequently encounter Bill's neighbors, and I suppose Bill has the same feeling as I. There is a point to where patience wears thin, and sometime even wears out. Well, Bill did fall but not because he was blind.
**12. I am always impressed with blind folks who move rapidly along streets and by-ways with perfect ease and control. I am impressed until I hear them tell stories of falling, landing in a ditch, construction site, etc. Still, they still do not slow down, but regain their footing, pay their hospital bills, and start right back up again.
There are a lot of ways to clean leaves from a gutter rather than walking over the roof with a cane. The lovely auditory sounds and the breeze might well be the last one enjoys before stepping off into eternity, splattering brains on the dog and driveway, and being the center of attention in a funeral, hopefully in a crisp and clean shirt and tie.
Never rush has been my own rule. I have a rolling ball on my cane and instead of tapping, I roll and have never fallen down even once for some years. If cleaning leaves from my gutter, I would use a ladder and move it from place to place, rather than walking the roof like a man who has paid up a large life insurance policy. Don't rush in dangerous conditions! Don't be distracted in difficult positions! Concentrate on what you are doing!
The hero of the story gets rushed, forgets his cane, and falls down six steps. In falling down the stairs, he kills the beloved family dog, Checkers, lands smartly on his head, and steps into eternity with a sudden sinking feeling-if he feels anything at all. So our hero has set himself up to star in his own funeral.
Heaven is for non-smokers. Hell is the "smoking" section. On his gravestone are inscribed the words: Here lies a blind man in a hurry.
Dr. Scott Wendell Bray
**14. You should have admitted that you needed to put off cleaning the other drain on another day. There was already too much to do and you were just adding problems by trying to get the roof drains cleaned before all the other things, so you were distracted and thus fell down the stairs. I had a similar thing happen to me one time as I was trying to get too many things done before leaving for a trip and missed my stairwell at home. I fell and almost broke my ankle, thus ruining my trip, which I went on but should not have done as my ankle was twice its size.
**15. Climbing up on a roof even for a sight person is tricky, but a blind person that is crazy even to give the idea to blind person of trying that.
Yes, most of us we do not use our cane or dog inside the house and yard where we live. Even my brother wonder why I did not use cane in the house because it get in the way. Using the cane or dog outside of house and yard is for both public and your protection. Yet we need to all time kept our mind on where we are going at all time or we will end up at the bottom of stairs wondering what happ4en to us.
So any you thinking about climbing, please do not live a little life, please.
**16. Oh God I hate when that happens! Thankfully I've never gone down more than 3 feet.
**17. That is a pretty good story! I wish I could say I was that brave! I know a lot of blind men who are pretty good at doing their own maintanence on their homes. Not me, of course I am not that young. I did pull my own weeds, most of the time.
**18. This must be the same guy who insists on shoveling two feet of snow by hand. He must be a constant source of amusement to his neighbors. Whether sighted or not, one must know his limitations. Once again he seems more intent on impressing others and proving a point rather than actually doing any work. I know my neighbors fairly well, and I am sure that very few of them would try his gutter cleaning stunt.
His satisfaction with his accomplishments and plans for the evening were enough of a distraction to create a disaster. Fortunately, a six foot fall should not have caused major injuries, so after his recovery, he might feel like buying a motorcycle and taking it out for a spin.
**19. I must say that I don't have the problem of well-meaning neighbors as no one on our street speaks to us, I think they are frightened they will catch something! as we all know blindness is very catching (smile). the issues that stands out for me in this story is that bill was only seeing the blindness as a risk. anyone can fall blind or not and other factors such as age and physical condition can be more of a risk than the blindness. however, I think speaking from personal experience that as blind people have to concentrate on getting through the environment safely as well as the task in hand, its important not to try to prove that tasks can be completed as well or if not better than a sighted person. if your confident and competent at what your doing fine. but if someone was attempting to complete a task they have never done before to prove to others that it can be done this might be dangerous.
bye for now.
Alison Jayne Connor REHABILITATION SPECIALIST Visual Impairment Team Carlisle Adult social care UK
**20. First off, Robert, I'm glad that you weren't seriously hurt. As for the discussion of my thoughts, they are controversial. Concerning what sighted folks, those people, you will never convince them that you didn't fall due to your blindness! I know differently and appreciate you are saying, about not paying attention to what you were doing. That happens to many times in my travels, tripping, walking into metal light poles, which, I personally must say, is not fun and it really hurts . Physically as well as embarrassing. For the sake of emphasis her, I will elaborate further. Sighted people are clueless when it comes to focusing on our other senses! In our world of blindness, that is the real key in accomplishing the every day challenges that we face. We all want to multi task to complete projects, work assignments and etc. Sighted people, those other folks, get themselves into as much troubles when they multi task and are not paying attention to what they are doing! What is their excuses? Dumbness, stupidity, silliness, how about I just wasn't pay attention. No difference from the blind and those other folks.
I could go on. I won't. Anyway, Robert, I am glad you were not seriously hurt.
Sincerely, jack e. mindrup
**21. When little kids learn to walk they fall several times. Falling is how they learn. When learning how to walk with a cane we run into things. This is how we learn. When learning how to cook we may burn our fingers or spill something. This is how we learn.
I bet the next time this guy goes back on his roof he will clear his mind and be focused.
He might also make sure that he is not being rushed with time.
Any one could of fell off that ladder with or with out sight. Just because someone tells us that we cannot do something or we shouldn't. Sometimes we need to be assertive and say with a smile, I thank you for your concern but I need to learn one way or another. If we are not assertive how do you think people are going to understand? If we do not address our thoughts when appropriate no one will for us. People are more comfortable when we express how or why we do things.
**22. I prefer cleaning leaves out of the gutter from the top of the ladder. I think we all have acquired voluntary deafness towards people saying 'be careful, you might get hurt'. Everyone gets hurt now and then. I once ended up into the emergency room because I slipped while making kindling for the fireplace. I got so sick of hearing how I shouldn't have been doing what I did because I couldn't see. finally I said they had a beautiful emergency facility just for blind people. The doctor asked what I meant. I said well if I have to be so careful because I am blind, what about all the sighted people that end up in the emergency room, shouldn't they have been careful too? Do sighted people have a monopoly on accidents or are just blind people suppose to get hurt because they can't see. He saw my point.
We can get hurt in accidents just like the best of them.
JODY Ianuzzi**23. Your thought provoker has me humming James Taylor's "Up On The Roof"! There are many reasons why you will never find me working on a roof, but blindness isn't one of them--a fact that I'm confident not many well meaning sighted folks could ever comprehend. As for our story's protagonist falling, well, he took the gamble anyone going up on his or her roof takes, and in this instance, he lost. It's just that simple. Lose your concentration on the task at hand, and you pay the price, whether you can see or not. What is always so horrific is when you can feel the eyes of someone else upon you, just waiting for you to commit that fatal flaw. I've been blind all my life, yet I will never, ever get used to this and I suppose a part of me will never accept it. Well-meaning as people are, it still makes me angry when people stare.
Kimberly in KC
**24. "Don't leave ladder without it" I always figured that it was respectable to be blind. So, why no cane? Especially when distracted by so many things to do. We all get distracted, and we all make mistakes. Now Bill will think he was right after all. Where was that good old NFB cane? Something sounds inconsistent to me, sweetie.
**25. Anyone can fall. Doesn't depend on sight at all.
Lori Stayer Merrick NY
**26. I enjoyed your Thought Provoker. That's exactly how life often works; you successfully negotiate the difficult or risky task and fail at the mundane task. Also, I agree with Lori. This could happen to anyone, sighted or blind.
Kerry Elizabeth Thompson
**27. The blind man in the story was doing what needed to be done. I couldn't climb up onto a roof because my balance is messed up and I am afraid of unprotected heights. I couldn't handle it. I am so glad I live in an apartment complex where I don't have to worry about ground maintenance and upkeep.
**28. The smart blind person will use his or her cane no matter where they travel. That is the short and long of it. One other point- it is possible that when we use the cane, we may be distracted so much that we do not react to what it is telling us, but that is rare.
Miles Long Kansas US
**29. The responses in this update are very interesting. It's surprising how many people assumed that you fell from the roof, rather than down the deck stairs. But, as many have said, you don't need to be blind to fall from a roof. A fully sighted friend was at church today with an obviously injured ankle. He said he fell off his roof. It was starting to rain and he needed to cover part of the roof before the rain came hard. The roof is slate and he fell off, because he was in a hurry to cover the roof and get down; slipped on the wet slate and now has a badly sprained ankle. So, being fully sighted didn't save him from the fate of hitting the ground ten feet below.
Cindy Handel Willow Street, Pa
**30. I doubt any of us blind or sighted, has ever gone completely unscathed when our minds were elsewhere. I am particularly hazardous to myself when I have a cold. My ears are an integral part of my orientation equipment and they contribute to my sense of balance. Get me clogged up enough and I walk in to walls, miss doorways and misjudge distances in very familiar places. I am also more likely to burn myself, drop things or just do things that don't make any sense when I am tired. I remember worrying about an exam, thinking about a dozen things and turning the corner near my high school locker and tripping over the corner of a concrete flowerbed and tumbling in to it. It never fails that the exact person you don't want to see you do something like that is the one who does. Such is life! Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get on with living. You don't need to prove anything to the Bills of the world, because they probably won't change their minds or beliefs since falling is exactly what they expect blind people to do anyway. Hopefully the blind handyman guy wasn't seriously hurt. This probably isn't his first fall nor will it be his last. Did he screw up? Sure, but who doesn't, now and again? Stuff happens.
DeAnna Quietwater MO
**31. I used to fall tripping on the tiniest little cracks on the side walk! When I was young , I used to walk fast, and the fall was hard! I learned to slow down, but now I am not so steady on my feet. My knees are in bad shape and my balance is pretty bad. Now I fall when I am walking with help, for I try to get support from others and it does not always work. I do not fall as much when I use my support cane as well as my regular cane . A walker works better, but it is hard to use it with out vision. I never used a dog, and I was wondering how a dog would work with a support cane. Any ideas? Has any one ever used a dog and a support cane?
**32. The long and the short of it is that anyone, sighted or blind, can be real careful at a potentially more dangerous task, thus not falling, but not so careful at an everyday kind of task, like walking to and from the same flight of stairs you have climbed countless times for many years. Obviously, this man's brain was on something else when he fell down the steps, and that's all it takes, sighted or blind. He knew that being up on the roof clearing his gutters could be more dangerous, and Bill's constant directions may have had the effect of making him especially careful, so he wouldn't have the embarrassment of having to explain to Bill how and why he fell. But in his mind, navigating the stairs should have been automatic, something he shouldn't have had to consciously think about. Well guess what, surprise.
**33. I’ve read the first set of responses and only a couple of people really got the point of this provoker and that is should we use a cane around our personal home ground or not! The man in this story used it for the real scary job, but didn’t have the same mind set about using one down on the ground. Read the story again, he purposely let the cane in the house! That reinforces what he was telling us in the first part of the story, that he normally doesn’t use a cane while working around his property. The author wants us to think about this point in our own lives. We are blind, we will not see things coming up in our paths, that is why we intelligently do use a cane and try and get other blind people to use a cane to get around safely. And on this point, I do use a cane when ever I go outside. Yes, sometimes I wonder why because I’m just going to the mailbox. But how am I to know if something didn’t change between my front door and the box?
We are blind, so when we leave the environment that we know we can control, we are at risk and it is only smart to use the cane.
**34. Your message reached me after I'd returned from a vacation to New Jersey a couple of days back, but I'd like to share some comments on your story.
On your latest writing adventure, I recall a rainy afternoon in New Jersey where I was disembarking a van getting ready to descend a long flight of stairs that led to an underground tunnel that took you from the west to east side of the Bound Brook, New Jersey train station. As it was raining pretty hard, I said goodbye to the van driver and was on my way to the stairwell, hoping that I wouldn't get too soaked by the cold, afternoon's rain.
It happened all at once! My foot was on the top step. My golden Black Lab cross Seeing Eye dog stopped to tell me that I was at the edge of the stairwell, but the sneakers I was wearing said, "go, go go." I groped the wall along side me for support, but there wasn't a rail to be found.
I descended the first 12 stairs quickly, hit the landing and then down the next 12 stairs and landed with a thud on the tunnel floor. I was carrying a steel, Stanley Thermos I used to bring coffee into work, and it slammed into my back as I hit each stair.
Some well-meaning passer-by chuckled as he asked me if I was all right. I mumbled some unmentionables as I struggled to my feet and tried to ascend the stairwell in front of me. My dog guide remained calm, but was at my side at each step, and when I ceased my descent, she was all over me like a cheap lollypop, showing me concern and asking if I was okay. From that day to this, and it's been nearly eight years, I ache when it rains or if I exert myself and carry anything heavy for a long period of time. But, life goes on.
These little hidden pleasures not only afflict blind but our sighted counterparts, and I could relate to this, Robert.
Taking this a step further, one could liken your sense of adventure in cleaning up the roof and the gutters to a view of life. As carefully as you have proceeded in your method to keep your roof and gutters free of debris, I could say that this is the way in which some people try and plan their life's journey. Everything's in order. Life goes on as planned, until that unforeseen tumble takes place, and life becomes something of a tangled mess, until we can put things back together again.
As you, I like to plan, but I like the adventurous side of life as well. Tumbles down unforeseen stairwells or a spill off of a curb or an accidental brush with shrubbery as we traverse the streets on our daily routine are unavoidable. It's how we pick up the pieces and resume forward progress that makes the difference. It doesn't matter whether you're blind or sighted, young or old. We've all experienced these types of situations. In time, all bruises and bumps will heal, whether it be on our heads of in our hearts. But, the lessons learned may not soon be forgotten.
Mike Townsend Arlington, Virginia
**35. And one for all the "you should have had your cane" folks out there. Many years ago on a Saturday, I had to run (literally) back to my office for something I'd forgotten. It was only about a 10 minute walk from my house (lived in a small college town in Upper MI. at the time). Naturally, I had my cane -- I'm a total and there was U.S 41 to cross -- even though the trip was familiar and I did most of it at a jog. Got to my office on the 3rd floor; used the stairs going and coming. The fly in the ointment came as I was skipping down the stairs two at a time. Unbeknownst to me, the university had laid steel mesh mats on the landings to grab the snow and sand from boots. The tip of my cane snagged in the mesh at the top of the landing, and as the handle was rapidly and forcefully driven back into my lower abdomen, I contemplated being scured in a most unpleasant way. To avoid a more serious injury, I vaulted over the top and rolled down the stairs. A few bumps and bruises, but I still had my manhood. I'm just really glad it was a Saturday with no one else around to watch, or maybe it could have gone for one of those funniest home video programs.
**36. Okay. Bill was well-meaning with his comments about how the blind home-owner will fall off the roof. On the other hand, it seems that Bill couldn't understand how, for the life of him, the home-owner could climb up on that roof without the risk of falling since the home-owner's blind. Blind and sighted people are bound to have some kind of accident of one kind or another, equally. Likewise, whether you are blind or sighted, you will zone out for a few seconds or minutes here and there because your mind's on something else at that moment, which will cause you to fall, slam into a door, almost hit something or somebody as you're driving down the street, etc. My adopted stepdad is a construction worker and he can see. I think that he misjudged where he was in relation to the roof's edge and ended up falling off the roof. He landed on his feet, but he didn't suffer any injuries. The point is, though, stuff happens. It's inevitable on the road of life.
**37. I had a similar, albeit not as painful experience. When I was first in Illinois, the house had a basement, but the door to the basement was off the hinges. The house was in the process of being cleaned and we'd gone to get some breakfast at Burger King. Upon returning to the house, we entered through the back door which faces the same direction as the basement door. Several steps straight ahead from the back door and you're at the basement door...or like me this particular morning flying down the basement stairs because you haven't had coffee yet and forgot where you were. As I went down the stairs I had managed to remain standing until I got to the bottom at which point I landed on the cement floor. Thank goodness for winter coats. Anyway, I know how easy it is to become distracted, and you don't have to be blind for it to happen...I know that much. A little bit of stress is all you need.
**38. The only time I don't use my cane is when I am inside my apartment or just right outside of it, either at the front door or the back door. I live on the top floor of my apartment complex. It sounds to me like the person in this story is quite the adventurer if he thinks he can go up onto his roof without his cane. I don't think I'd want to attempt something like that even with my cane, because you just never know what could happen. This reminds me of something I briefly mentioned in an earlier Thought Provoker. When I first moved into this building, our laundry facility was down a very steep and rickety staircase. At the time I was living with another young man who is visually-impaired and is losing more and more sight. Nobody wanted us to attempt that staircase on our own because they were afraid we'd get hurt. Eventually a new washer and a new dryer were purchased for our building, and a community room houses them. In order to get to it we only have to go out back, down our regular porch stairs which do have railings by the way, and turn right and go straight back. Before we had that community room, however, everybody was great about helping us transport our laundry back and forth. I think the main issue to be concerned with here is safety. I'm sure that if I climbed up onto the roof of this building, I'd get a pretty good lecture. I don't think Center for Independent Futures has that much liability insurance yet but I could be wrong about that. I've said this before and I'll say it again. If sighted people have an obligation to be safe in whatever they do, there's absolutely no reason for safety not to apply to somebody who is visually-impaired. On the other hand, most if not all the fuse boxes for our building are located down that treacherous staircase and I did hear a rumor that the staircase has been altered slightly but I've yet to verify that. A few weeks ago I blew a fuse up here in my apartment. It was after a rather busy day at work and I hadn't eaten lunch so I was hungry and wanted to heat something in my microwave. It was also quite hot and humid out so I had both air-conditioners going. Fortunately the problem was resolved quickly when a neighbor went down and fixed things. That incident has taught me a lesson though. Whenever I want to use the microwave I can't use the air-conditioners even one at a time, because it's too much power. I'm going to inquire about the fuse boxes and whether or not there's a way I can use them, and hopefully that staircase will eventually have a railing or two that is continuous. But I was always taught that it is better to be safe than sorry. I'm glad the person in this TP wasn't badly injured, but if I were him I would've had a maintenance worker go up there. That's why God put them on this Earth anyway.
Jake JoehlTOP OF PAGE