By Wendy Joevenazzo
A few years ago I went for my annual eye check-up at the specialist’s office. I had hoped that they wouldn’t use those eye drops that dilate your pupils and make your eyes very sensitive to light for hours — but they did. I came out of the office into bright afternoon sunshine.
To catch a train back to my job in downtown Calgary, I headed toward the LRT (Light Rail Transit) station. But half blinded by sunlight, I stumbled off the curb and fell. I made a very undignified landing on my knees and elbows, and my glasses flew off my face. I looked around for them, or rather felt around for them, found them and picked them up.
They had landed in the worst possible way and the lenses had shattered. That was a nightmare come to life for me. Without my glasses I’m so nearsighted that I’m legally blind. I cannot see the big E on the eye chart.
There I was in an unfamiliar part of town, eyes ultra-sensitive to light, on a sunny day, couldn’t see a thing, all alone. I couldn’t help it: tears trickled down my cheeks.
I have enough vision to see a colored blur. I knew the general direction of the LRT station. I headed in that direction and as I got closer I could see where it was. I climbed the ramps to the platform but I was scared. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see where the doors of the train were or what stops we were at. Even validating a ticket was going to be a challenge for me. I was getting pretty panicky.
It was about then that a young girl, somewhere in her teen years, asked me what was wrong and whether she could help me. I told her what had happened. She helped calm me down and offered to call someone for me. She put the coins in the pay phone and dialed my husband’s office number; things I couldn’t do for myself. He said he’d come get me. Then she waited with me until he arrived and handed me over to him.
That girl was a complete stranger. I could not recognize her if my life depended on it and she must have known that. She could have taken advantage of my situation and stolen my purse and all its contents. She could have ignored me. She could have left me to wait for my husband alone. She certainly missed whatever train she had been waiting for.
She’ll never know how much I appreciated her kindness. It didn’t cost her any money and not a lot of time but she was there. She didn’t make me feel foolish. She made me feel safe. She’s probably forgotten the whole incident, but I sure haven’t.