Last Thursday, there was a free workshop at the CNIB in Toronto about human rights, disabilities and the workplace. I figured I’m sure there was something I could learn, so off I went. It was a pretty good trip, full of adventures, so I thought I’d write about them. Hope it won’t be too boring.
First, Trixie was absolutely awesome. When we got off the bus, she had to walk past pigeons and a hotdog stand. Nothing could distract her. She followed the person helping us get from terminal to terminal without even batting an eye.
I needed to get money at the bank machine because I didn’t get a chance to get it the day before, and now I will never, ever, ever, use the bank machine in the departure terminal at the Toronto bus station again. If you aren’t lightning fingers, it starts beeping and asking you if you need more time. Plus, there is no dot on the 5 so you can’t even have a hope of being somewhat lightning fingers. It’s just an indiscriminant pad of buttons. Thanks a lot, bank machine designer.
I eventually had to let some stranger key in my pin because I had been yelled at several times, both by the beeping bank machine and the guy who helped me get there. He insisted that I should just take the subway because they’ll help blind people down there. That’s great, sparky, but I have never been on it in Toronto, and that thing waits for no one. I don’t feel like getting lost on Yonge Street in Toronto, thank you very much. I’ll pay to get where I’m going. Anyway, I felt I was holding up everyone, so I let her key in my pin, and wow! I got money! Then she helped me find a cab stand, and then she missed her bus! I felt horrible!
When I first arrived at the cab stand, I got a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Every single cabby in there was foreign, and sounded like he was from India or there abouts. Now now, before everyone calls me a racist, I have no problem with people from India. But, I have heard a lot of stories about people with guide dogs in Toronto getting refused cab service by cab drivers who are Muslim and don’t want the dog in their car for religious reasons. Not all Muslims do this, just some, but it happens a lot. So I was afraid that I was going to have to whip out the access law cards, call the police, do my first hell-raising on denial of access. But nope, I had no reason to fear. The first cab I got to had no problem taking me, and off we went.
The cabby was nice, talking to me about what route he was taking and how he was avoiding all the lights. That part of the trip was pretty uneventful.
Since I got there early so I could give the dog a chance to pee and such,, I spent a bunch of time in the technical aids store they have. A few things made me raise my eyebrows.
First, there was the simplified TV remote for super simple folk, I guess. It only had power, volume up, volume down, channel up, and channel down. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be with digital cable? Just envision the number of presses of channel up you would have to do to get from channel 12 to, oh, say, channel 282. Then, add onto that that it skips past any channels you don’t get, so forget counting! The only people who wouldn’t want to heave this remote out a window would be my parents with four channels.
As the poor man was showing me everything he had, and watching me make fun of various gadgets that looked ridiculous, he showed me a phone with huge buttons with braille on them. But the braile dots were spread so far apart that they didn’t feel like braille to the touch. Maybe, to the eye, they still looked like the symbols they were to resemble, but they didn’t feel like them anymore. The 7 looked like an = sign, so much so that I asked him why there was an = on a phone. I had to show him by having him compare the same thing on the braille labeler to the braille on the phone.
They had a talking compass on display, but he said it was broken, to which I just about had a heart attack. Those things are friggin expensive! How did someone break it? And, why why why didn’t they have it replaced?
I think the poor tech aids guy was happy to see me go. I don’t think anyone has asked him so many questions about all his products. I think most people just sort of walk in there and say “I need a magnifying glass” and leave. But I did get to tell him about my talking cell phone and told him what company is selling it. Maybe, just maybe, I helped him just a little.
Now, on to the workshop! I didn’t learn a whole ton, partially because the guy running the workshop only had two hours, and when you cover something like human rights, you’re barely scratching the surface when you only have that amount of time. What I did learn was the fellow listeners to this speech were either bitter, sad, dorky, or all of the above. That’s not entirely true. There were a couple of cool people. But oh me oh my oh me oh my. One guy would go off on rants and try and turn them into some kind of question. One lady seemed so broken down. I admit that it’s hard getting turned down alot, but this just broke my heart. One guy only had a job when the funding was there so the company didn’t have to pay him. He seemed like a perfectly smart man. Another recognized his beeping car horn from the meeting (not all of these people were blind) and ran from the room to shut it off. The speaker was a very good, very patient man who put up with all of us throwing him off course with our questions.
At break, everyone wanted to pet Trixie. I decided this was ok, so took off the harness. Instantly, she went wild and frisky. She would run to some people and give them a greting as if they were old friends. But the speaker got no such love, even though he seemed to want it. I don’t know what it was about him that she didn’t like, but she would not go near him. Poor guy. Or maybe I should take that as a sign that I should be careful of him.
After the workshop was over, I waited in the lobby for a lady who said she would help me get back to the bus station so I could get back home. A woman came into the lobby with crutches and started coming over. Not knowing how much she could see, I pulled Trixie in all nice and close. The lady with the crutches told me not to worry, that she could see and wouldn’t step on Trixie, and sat down beside me. Instantly, Trixie started shaking like mad! The shaking didn’t stop for a long time. Not knowing if I had scraped her on something when I got her to sit up and move, I took the harness and asked the lady to have a look at her. As soon as the harness was off, she ran to the lady and squished into her, quivering even more violently. She said she couldn’t see anything wrong with her, so I put the harness back on and Trixie settled down. The lady said that’s the second time that has happened to her. The first time, a seizure alert dog did it. Now she’s starting to wonder if she has some kind of medical condition that needs addressing.
The way to the bus was pretty uneventful. The lady who offered to help me helped me take the subway, and got me to the bus. The worst thing was trying to go through those clicky gates that are all over the subway stations. Trixie got bonked on the head! Poor doggy.
We got back on the bus, and I tried a little experiment. I asked the bus driver if he could drop me off at a corner near my house. He said he could, and he did, but we weren’t on the side of the street I was expecting to be. We stood for a second, and then Trixie turned us towards the convenience store I sometimes go to. Way to go, Trix, getting me unlost again!
So that was the trip to Toronto. Hope it wasn’t too boring to read about. I just thought enough wacky things happened in it that it deserved a post.