For many years I worked in Downtown Chicago. I didn't like (still don’t) driving to Chicago, so I rode either the train or the bus to get there. I often fell asleep and when I awoke, I didn’t know if I was on my way to work or if I was on my way home, especially in the morning when I rode the train, because the train stopped underground. In the winter, the sky was always dark both when I left for work in the morning and when I arrived home at night.
One morning, on my way to a job interview with a prospective employer, before I even got off the train, a man with a white cane grabbed my arm and asked me if I could walk with him – underground – until he got to street level.
Because I have never been a good judge of character, I wasn't about to allow that cane to influence my decision. He could probably see as well as I could and he was using that cane as a ruse. After my Ted Bundy experience (Ted Bundy and Me), I didn’t trust anybody. The fact that we were underground didn’t help either, and although many people exited the train at the same time as we did, I was a little uncomfortable with this stranger. I was also unfamiliar with this area of Chicago's underground.
“I don’t know,” I began. “My job interview is only minutes away, and I don’t want to be late.” He asked me where my interview was located.
"You'll be there on time," he promised.
He maneuvered his arm so that he could hold onto my elbow. I tried to look through the sunglasses into his eyes to see if he was lying, but he appeared to be genuinely blind.
As we left the platform and entered the underground street, he told me to watch my step, because at the bottom of that first step, I would fall into a pothole if I wasn't careful. Funny. It was so dark down there, I would have missed that if he hadn't pointed it out.
"Do you see stairs kitty-corner from here?" he asked. I did. "We need to get across these streets and climb those stairs."
How would I make it to my interview? Which direction would I go once we reached the top of those stairs? I needed to be on Michigan Avenue, not underground at God-knows-where. I was completely lost, but this blind man confidently held onto my arm, even as I stumbled over loose rocks. He didn't miss a step and patted the pavement with his cane until we reached the stairs.
At the top of the stairs, the sun was shining brightly. I was surprised and delighted to see that we were already on Michigan Avenue. The blind man pointed his finger to a building across the street, and said, "That is where your interview is. Thank you very much for helping me."
I couldn't stop thinking about the irony of a blind man who showed me how to walk through darkness and come up into the light.
Oh, and I got the job.
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