Steph's Friend

Saturday, March 31, 2007

How The Blind Travels

There was once I took the bus 198 back home. Everything seemed normal. The bus was crowded and stuffy. I stood at the standing area and read my book.

Then at this stop, there was this man who walked to where I was with a long stick. He was using this stick to "feel" around the bus. He finally decided to stand in front of me. Since the bus was crowded with a blind man in front of me with a stick, I decided to keep my book. I wasn't really sure that he was blind, so I decided to study him.

I looked at the blind man. He wasn't wearing any sunglasses. Normally blind people wear dark glasses, but maybe he is just blind but doesn't like to wear a pair. Conclusion - Unsure.

I looked a look at his eyes. They seemed to be unfocused. His eyes only look straight ahead which was typical of a blind person since his eyes can't see anything. Conclusion - He's blind.

I looked at his arms. They were very muscular. Now, how would a blind man get muscular arms? I am not trying to be mean but you don't see blind people in the gym or something like that. Let's say he is really blind, then maybe he trained with weights at home? Or maybe he wasn't blind before but some unfortunate incident happened and he became blind. Conclusion - Unsure.

Then suddenly, he turned his head towards me...and talked to me! Now how did he know that I was there? I didn't make any noise or accidentally brush against him or anything like that. I can only guess.

Blind man: Excuse me.
Me: !!
Blind man: Is the bus now at Telecoms?
Me: !!!! (How did he know?) Yes, it's at Telecoms.
Blind man: Thank you.

Actually I wanted to ask him how on earth did he know, but I thought that it won't be a polite thing to do. So I decided to think and come up with reasons on how did he (or any blind people) know where the bus was without his sight. I came up with a few.

By that time, the bus was near my house. I decided to help the blind man by telling him where the bus was.

Me: Excuse me.

The blind man turns his head with eyes looking straight which can actually be quite scary.

Blind man: Yes?
Me: The bus will be approaching the Jurong East polyclinic soon at the next stop.
Blind man: Polyclinic...polyclinic...oh ok. So you are stopping here?
Me: Yes I am.
Blind man: Okay. Thank you.

At that point, I said something stupid.

Me: Bye. See you.

I was not being mean or what but it came out so naturally. I know he was blind but I didn't realize that the "see you" part would be spoken also. The blind man didn't seem offended though. He just smiled.

I thought about how the blind man was able to tell where he was and came up with a few possibilities.

First, maybe he relied on his sense of time. As the bus journeyed, he would guess where the bus was by the time that had passed.

Second, maybe he relied on inertia. Let me explain. When the bus turned, people tend to sway to the opposite side. This swaying or inertia is experienced whether you are standing or sitting. So maybe he would take down the number of turns the bus has passed by and from there guess where the bus was. I used this method when I was in JC. As I woke up early in the morning, I would sleep in the bus and rely on the turns made by the bus to guess where the bus was. Let me tell you that this method is pretty accurate. Most of my guesses were correct.

Third, maybe he used the first and second method plus asking the people around to confirm with his guesses. Asking around would be the most accurate way, unless he meets up with a nasty fellow.

These are just my guesses, who knows, I maybe wrong. However, there are a few things that I can't understand. How did he get those muscular arms? Maybe he wasn't blind initially and from there had strong arms? I don't know.

Who says that bus trips are boring? It isn't if you observe.


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2 Comments:

Anonymous teddY said...

Well you're a really kind person at heart for telling him where the bus was. Blind guys can have muscular arms too... maybe because they use the stick very often? Or maybe because he got blind recently. Blind guys can be fit too, as long as they have people taking care of them as they work out =)

12:44 PM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger Steph said...

Thanks Teddy, you are too kind :)
True...true...but to exercise, they will need a lot of support from the people around them. It's unlikely but not impossible.

9:07 PM, April 07, 2007  

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