And That's When It Went All Pear-Shaped

I was sitting in the Super-Duper Mini-Van this morning at an intersection downtown. A scene unfolded as I sat at the red light and it went like this:

Directly across the intersection, a nicely-dressed man, maybe in his 40's, approached the crosswalk with his seeing eye dog. (I've seen this man before and if he has any vision at all, it appears to be close to zero.) The man pressed the crosswalk button then waited at the intersection. Even though the light was red, the crosswalk signal had obviously not turned to "walk" because the dog was watching it and had not moved.

A young woman sat at the red light in her oldish car and obviously observed the man waiting. No doubt trying to be helpful, the woman gave a short "beep" on the car's horn so the man would know it was okay to walk. No doubt the man heard her and probably understood the meaning, but he did not move. (I'm sure a visually-impaired person must be absolute in their reliance upon their guide dog. It would have to be that way to ensure proper training of the dog...and to prevent misunderstandings by relying on other input which might be misinterpreted.)

So, Man #2 approaches the intersection (where the light is still red but the crosswalk light still says "don't walk") and, seeing that it is safe for him to go, crosses the intersection in the direction of Man #1. As Man #2 passes Man #1, Man #2 slows his gait enough to tell Man #1 that the woman in the car wishes to let him cross. Man #1 moves his head in the direction of Man #2, says something, and waves Man #2 away as if he were swatting at a bee. Man #2 walks on.

The light turns green, I pass through the intersection, and the woman passes through the intersection in her car. Man #1 waits for the crosswalk light to change.

What a mess that was. A man uses what is probably the best practice when one is traveling with the help of an assistance animal and wishes to retain his independence. A woman obviously didn't understand these issues and attempted to be kind and give way to someone who she felt might need it. Another man tries to bridge the communication gap between the other two and is rewarded with a less-than-friendly wave off.

I guess all three of them might have learned something (even if it was small) from that 15 seconds of the morning. As for me, I escaped with only some reflected discomfort. The dog ...well, he or she didn't really seem that interested in the whole thing.


Dan Wright said...

What kind of dog was it? Why did the dog not thank the lady in the clunker and go about his day? Geez... wait a minute, what kind of dog was it?

TTHBTK said...

Good question, Dan. It was a Golden Retriever. A very, very apathetic Golden Retriever.

Jennifer said...

That man works in my building. His companion animal is still very young and just out of training (I asked him one day). Honestly, he is nearly 100 percent blind. I am sure he heard that there were no cars coming - but seriously, what the f*@k is the point of the beeping crosswalk? It is to alert crossers when they can cross.

Why toil with that? Why try to mess up the delicate balance of ped-x-ing and driving?

TTHBTK said...

If I were blind, I wouldn't trust a beeping crosswalk, anyway. This one wasn't the beeping type, but I know what you mean.

The multi-level miscommunication was just too bad, since everyone had the right intentions. That being said, I wouldn't usually try to interfere with a handicapped person's independence, either.

So it's a young dog? Why are young dogs these days? (I'm sorry...I really just can't let go of that joke. The dog has become my straight "man.")

spinster girl said...

Not blind (don't tell anyone) but once while crossing Quarrier Street a woman waved me along. i waved her off and she gave me the finger. There was a car coming from the other side. Do not trust strangers.

Jennifer said...

I've had similar experiences to that of spinter girl's. Even without an (obvious) disability, I don't appreciate strangers' input on what action I should take. I never go when somebody waves me on in traffic -- the on-waver never considers oncoming traffic approaching from other lanes, or just anything besides him or herself. I hope the visually impaired man said something curmudgeonly to the passer by who suggested he step out in front of a beeping car.