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Blind Courage

I’m driving home from work through Watertown center, and as usual it’s a clusterfuck.

For those of you who don’t live near Watertown here’s a quick Legend: Red means the areas that are typically high in traffic:

Right when you get off the highway, it’s sort of a rotary but not really. And then when you get past that you get to deal with a five or six-way intersection. It’s like whoever originally designed the layout of these streets didn’t know what to do, so they threw two balls of string into a propeller and modeled the intersection around what happened after. Every other motorist who drives through there is either a Watertown center N0Ob who ends up in the wrong lane by accident or they’ve long since ran out of fucks to give and simply ignore the lane/turn restrictions. Want people to use their turning signals when they turn? You’re in the wrong state, bub. Getting through there unscathed without crashing or pulling some jackhole out of their car and beating them to death right there on the sidewalk in front of everyone deserves recognition.

Thank you, thank you.

My rage sidetracked me from my own point, which is that once you finally get through those two gauntlets, one’s natural reaction is generally to speed away like a cursing-sailor-bat-out-of-Hell and not look back. And that’s where I was, speeding away mid-curse about a quarter of a mile from that nexus of chaos, when I saw something remarkable.

An old blind man just walked right out into the busy street.

” -shitwhoring cockpriest wwwhaaatttt!?”

No seeing eye dog, no helpful human guide. Ironically he was about 100ft away from a crosswalk, but it’s very debatable whether or not he knew that. Just a cane with a little ball at the end of it and a pair of tan slacks that I’m assuming were filled with two titanium bowling ball sized testicles. The cars on the other side of the street all saw him and stopped way back like good little drivers; I theorize this is because they were going towards Watertown center instead of away from it – they were not yet enraged.

The drivers on my side though…one of them stopped a little too close for comfort, maybe just 10 or 15ft away from this guy as he slowly, brazenly made his way to the safety of the sidewalk across the street. What was going on inside this guy’s head?!

The truth is probably a little sad. Maybe this man has no family, or none who live super close by. He’s out and about which is obviously a good thing in itself, but I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around what I saw. Since I was a little kid, “Look left, look right and look left again” has been drilled into my brain when crossing the street. This has actually saved me from getting hit by a car at least once (the “look left again” part. That car would’ve nailed me). But how do you cross a street when all you see is this?

I know I know, just because he had the stick and the glasses it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s 100% blind; it’s possible that he could see light or shapes, but I saw this guy and he wasn’t like, looking at anything. I believe he was completely blind. Now from what I understand when you lose a sense, your remaining senses get heightened, which actually sounds super cool in premise. Again, cars are whizzing along this road at at least 30mph, so even people like me can hear them.

But how might they sound to a person who can’t see?

It’s empowering to see someone with a physical hurdle like that to not cow down to it and be a victim. My friend Erin knew a girl that was blind and on the swim team, which I think is freaking insane. I’ve smashed the top of my head against the wall when I was on the swim team and I can see – that shit hurts. Talk about someone facing their fears.

But these are cars man! CARS! The road is full of them, and each one of them is at least a ton of hot metal and plastic barreling down the street fast enough to launch you into the air. All it takes is one idiot who’s not paying attention, fleeing from the traffic horror that IS Watertown center, and it’s lights out (I apologize) for you. That cane is not a force field; if you get hit all it will do is snap. Shouldn’t you maybe wait until you can hear that the street is empty? Maybe hang out by the corner and press the ‘Walk’ button? I guarantee you’ve got a meticulously detailed mental map of the entire town in your mind that far surpasses even my best mental map of my favorite Halo level.

I’ve only ever heard of one thing that matches that, which is when a blind dude I knew in college took shrooms and freaked out and ran out alone into the blizzard of ’04. Taking shrooms in the blizzard of ’04 is probably risky enough by itself, but you went and tossed being blind into mix. What kind of visuals would someone who’s blind even have? I should also mention that I didn’t like this guy because he had a reputation for feeling up girls who lived in the dorm, one of them being my girlfriend at the time. He got away with it too, because you can’t hit a blind man.

I want there to be a safer solution for this man, but I guess it’s also likely that he’s been employing his “Step out into the street any damn time I feel like it/They will stop” method for years and he’s still here, so what do I know. Sir you are a daredevil, a source of inspiration and a living, breathing reason for me to be uber-aware when driving through Watertown, all rolled into one. But just be a little more careful so you STAY that way, for Christ’s sake. Dumb and Dumber quotes aside, there are a lot of bad drivers out there.

Listen left, listen right and listen left again.

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