The Blind Person Rule

Another source of irritation occurs when one of my neighbors parks his car so that it totally blocks the sidewalk, forcing one to either walk in the street or squeeze between this car and the other car in the driveway.

One of the rules I try to enforce in our household is to not have anything on the floor where someone – mostly likely, me – might trip over it at night when the lights are out. Makes sense, right? I have tried to apply that idea to my sidewalk and walkways. No unnecessary debris, such as branches. It is obvious, however, that not everyone shares my zeal.

I may have told this story before, but, years later, it still irritates me. Sometime in the past decade, a blind man was walking across Madison Avenue in Albany from the corner nearest the police station to the corner where the Bruegger’s bagel shop was/is located. He was doing fine until he almost walked into a car that had totally blocked the crosswalk. The driver of the car, as you might guess, was inside the Bruegger’s picking up some food. I’m sure he was thinking, “I’ll only be a minute.” But it was disruptive to the pedestrian, who felt his way around the car and finally made his way to the sidewalk. And it was frustrating to me, who was far enough up North Allen that I could not help him, or even yell to him coherently.

I was also roiled because there was a real parking spot about three car lengths away. Moving there was obviously too onerous for the driver to do. Unfortunately, he drove away before either seeing the disruption he caused or before I could reach him to (probably unkindly) inform him of his bête noire.

Another source of irritation occurs when one of my neighbors parks his car so that it totally blocks the sidewalk, forcing one to either walk in the street or squeeze between this car and the other car in the driveway. This has happened more than once. This situation could have avoided if the first car in the driveway had pulled in farther. The problem is amplified when there are snowbanks on the grass, especially when trying to use a shopping cart. This is frustrating for a sighted person; imagine how much more frustrating it would be to one who is not.

So keep your walkways free of debris, ice, snow, and vehicles. That includes bicycles, such as the one I saw lying in the middle of the sidewalk in front of a food establishment on Lark Street a while back. Think about how you would fare there if you could not see.

Getting Around and Getting Along in Canada

Most of the bicyclists were not wearing helmets, which I think is crazy, but such is the confidence he pedalists have in their drivers.

I don’t want to say that everyone we saw in Canada was nicer than the folks in the United States. A couple of the folks at the first hotel were, let’s say, indifferent. And the very first person we dealt with on the subway was clearly frustrated that we didn’t understand her incomprehensible instructions.

By and large, however, I found it a joy to be in Canada, especially Toronto. Other subway workers in the big city were quite helpful, and even complete strangers initiated contact to assist us when we looked confused.

Once we got the hang of it, we found the Toronto subway to be quite usable. Reasonably clean, mostly on time – except for that delay on the way to the zoo – and the riders were not openly hostile, as I’ve experienced in more than a few major American cities.

The bus trip to the zoo was actually fun, with people generally compliant with the signs to move back. We were near three high school girls from the suburbs who were native Chinese speakers but were studying English words for some major comprehensive test, perhaps the SATs.

Apparently driving out of Toronto in the afternoon is OK until about 3:30 pm, except on Friday afternoons in the summer, which is when we departed at 2 pm and got into a major traffic slowdown east of the city. That’s why, I suppose, the highway has all of those LED road signs imploring people to Try Mass Transit, or Use Mass Transit. And when a merged lane sign shows up, the drivers were generally quite content to let a driver in, taking turns.

In Toronto, I’ve never seen so many people riding bicycles in North America in my life. And unlike in Albany, NY, the drivers weren’t hostile to them. Most of the bicyclists were not wearing helmets, which I think is crazy, but such is the confidence the pedalists have in their drivers.

Oh, and cars yield to pedestrians – what’s THAT all about? I was practically in shock when cars stopped at the intersection and waited for the people to cross the street, even folks who were not at the intersection before the auto was. This would never happen in Albany. The one sign of impatience is when the drivers ARE making their right turns, either with the light or especially right on red, they will usually have one or two drivers turn after the light is red. So don’t step off the curb right away.

I even liked a lot of Canadian television, the little we saw, generally in the morning and evening. There was some morning show that gave a lot more of what I consider REAL news than the US equivalents do after the first half-hour. One segment was about homelessness in Canada, and the host showed real concern. Oh, and my wife got to see a performance by one of her two favorite singers, Diana Krall.

My favorite moment in Toronto: we were at the Ontario Science Centre. We bought a one-use camera for the Daughter, which was reasonably priced, BTW. She proceeded to misplace it. When I finally noticed this, I contacted the nearest employee and asked what I could do. He said, “Wait here,” walked over to the Lost and Found and in a few minutes, brought the camera to me. Usually, in such situations in the past, at best, an employee would direct me to the Lost and Found, where the camera might or might not have been returned. This outcome was, as they say, way cool.

So I was quite surprised in reading a comment to this blogpost by Arthur about the most livable cities. One of his LOCs stated: “I hope Toronto is not in the top ten! I was transferred here 6 months ago and as someone who has traveled all over and lived in South Africa, Australia, DC, LA, etc – I can tell you Toronto is not in the top ten!! Angriest people in North America, expensive, horrible weather. 6 months to go if I can make it.” (It’s #4, BTW.)

Now I did not live there. It was only four days. But there was a point, walking by the Royal Ontario Museum on our second day there when I said to my wife: “I think I could live here,” assuming that we had employment, etc. Good mass transit, bikes, educational capital, intellectual stimulation, massive multiculturalism; there were plenty of places we DIDN’T get a chance to see. And there are angrier people in lots of US cities I’ve been to, starting with Albany, NY.
Heather Morris’ Staples Canada Back To School Commercial. Heather Morris, from the TV show Glee, is not from Canada, BTW.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial