I had moved from the Washington, DC area where I grew up to southwest Idaho, (long story). My ex(?)-boyfriend came up to see us when he was in Denver for a job interview. He went back to Va. for a few months, then he moved to Colorado. He came to get me a week before we got married. I knew no one in Denver. The only other connection I had at all was the wife of one of his fellow teachers, the man who would be his Best Man. She lived two doors down and was the sister of a priest I had known years before in Virginia…their family is from Iowa; it is indeed a small world.
Among the assortment of the friends my husband had made was one of the brightest, cleverest, sharpest and amusing young women I have ever known. I met Mary at my wedding and we hit it off. She was well-educated and well-read, and had a great deal of common-sense. We found that we could say just about anything that came to our minds and readily confided in each other. She surprised and entertained me with frightening but funny stories about traveling with a wild-child gal-pal of hers who had left the circle of friends and gone overseas. Mary was very astute when it came to personalities and motives, plus was aware of much of the action behind-the-scenes, information which I needed, since not only had my husband been in town for several more months, he had met this cadre of long-time friends back during is job-hunting trip. Two of the friends were his fellow teachers at a small academy, some were parents of students. One of them was the brother of his college roommate, another was their cousin, with whom my husband had much in common; I was really the odd man out. Mary was very helpful to me, keeping me more involved with the group.
Mary was witty and could comfortably talk with me about what she perceived as my foibles and those of my husband, (whom I knew she held in very high regard), as well as her own; yet there never seemed to be any thing but good-natured chiding in her attitude. I took it for caring, as she could tell quite accurately that we were a couple of uptight people and I was rather shy. One could say that Mary had insight, which she did. One could say that Mary saw it all, but she didn’t…she had been totally blind since a few days after her birth.
Mary had a pretty good career as a medical transcriptionist, but had gotten wind of government jobs in that line. They told her that there was no problem accommodating her for an oral civil service test, as long as she brought someone along to read it to her. She asked me to do it and I was glad to help. We were living in North Denver and the government office for Civil Service was downtown. For those of you who do not know Denver, it is one good-sized city. I had driven downtown a few weeks before to change my name at the Social Security office and had gotten terribly lost, but Mary told me that we would go by bus. She was accustomed to riding the bus system all over town and knew all the schedules and almost all of the routes.
Frankly, I had not had much experience with public busses and one that I told of in yesterday’s blog comments did not endear me to those systems. I liked taxis …or driving a car. Busses frightened me; I did not like the idea of being lost in a city, much less a strange city and here I was allowing myself to be lead around one by a sightless person.
But we went on the bus, with Mary amused that I was obviously terrified; I kept asking her if she was sure of where we were going. She led me off the bus, down a couple of blocks, and around several corners. We walked right up to the proper building. She knew where to go, so we met the proctor who led us into a large room and I read the test out loud and wrote down or marked Mary’s answers on the test sheets. She went through it with confidence until the end, where there were symbols for “woman” and “man” to identify:
Mary had never seen them and she found my descriptions in questionable taste.(When we got to my house, I made them backwards on a piece of paper, pressing down hard so she could feel them on the reverse side in relief…she was relieved.) All went very well…until we left the building, walked down a block, around a corner and Mary realized that she did not know where we were, and neither did I. Apparently, I had led her out a different side of the building than we had entered. She asked me what I could see, but as she only knew the surrounding buildings by name and not what they looked like, and I could only see them and had no idea what they were, we were up a creek. She knew which busses went where, but had to know where we were to decided which direction to head in and which bus stop we needed. I was not panicking, at least, not outwardly… not too much, anyway, or so I thought. My worst fear had come true .Mary was trying to get me to give her information she could use, and I was of no help at all. Finally, a man passed by who heard us and told her which buildings were around us, which streets were surrounding us. She immediately knew exactly where to go to pick up our bus, but riding all the way home I got good-humored but slightly exasperated remarks about how in Heaven’s name a grown woman could be so afraid.(Looking back, I wonder as well).
She wanted to take my husband and me out to dinner to thank me, but I wanted to stay safely home; I had had enough traveling for one day. As I made dinner, we told my husband about our adventure and the joking digs came again from her. I said, “I think it was truly a case of the blind leading the blind”, but she said, “In this case, I think it was the blind leading the stupid”.
After a while Mary moved back to Texas near her parents; I saw her a few years later for a short time. The last I heard she was doing very well. I have gotten over a great deal of fear and timidity. I have no idea why I didn’t think that we could have managed to get home even if we had taken the wrong bus at some point… but I have never taken a public bus since.