Karma Strikes 23rd Street

Posted on September 19, 2008

In case you hadn’t noticed, I love New York City. The neighborhoods are fascinating, the day-to-day pace breathtaking, but it’s really the people who make it live and breathe, each with their unique stories.

You never know which one of them you’ll encounter – not even on the way to work. For all intents and purposes, this morning seemed like any other. Half the F train was comatose, the rest halfheartedly attempting to read a textbook, a pulp novel, or the gaudy ads overhead. Sharing the car with me was a blind man of middling years, who seemed as comfortable with his guide stick as the rest of us are with our thumbs.

Still, sometimes even the best of us needs help. He got off the same stop I did – 23rd Street (where I usually transfer to the PATH). Unfortunately, he started walking in the wrong direction, towards the back of the train – where there’s nothing but a dead end. Without thinking, I gripped his shoulder and turned him in the right direction.

Other than that, it was surprising to see how spatially adept he was. Not that I haven’t seen other blind folks navigating NYC, but between his stick and his sense of hearing, he actually didn’t need that much guidance from me, save for announcing the street, finding the bus stop, and telling him when to cross. We chatted a bit on the way – his name is Greg, and his blindness was a casualty of a tour of duty in Vietnam. When I told him I was a programmer, he said: “It must be nice to have a job where you can stop to help someone like this.” I deliberately left out the events of the last few days…no need to depress the mood! And as he showed me that morning, some of us have bigger obstacles to overcome.

» Filed Under Everything and Nothing, Writing


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