Before starting out on what turned into a lovely hike, we stopped to use the washrooms. I’d never given much thought to how, when you pull open the door of a washroom—or any room you’ve never entered—you must “get your bearings” before doing anything else. Before I had a chance to do so, however, the door slammed shut behind me and I found myself in utter darkness. Had the bulbs burned out? Did someone blow a breaker? Why was there no window?
I thought I heard something. “Is anyone else in here?” I called.
I groped around, finding nothing but air. I managed to turn myself around, and when I finally felt the cool metal of the door, I realized how unobservant I am. Had the handle been on the right or left? Was it the kind you turn? Had I pulled or pushed? I hadn’t taken note of any of those things.
For the life of me, I could not find the handle! Maybe they’d installed one of those doors with a handle only on the outside and from the inside, you merely pushed. But then why didn’t it budge when I pushed? Had I dropped into some weird science fiction story where the door handle disappears and locks you in? I started banging on the door, knowing hubby had opted to wait on the bench outside with our water bottles. I called his name. I haven’t felt such a persistent “get me outta here” feeling since high school Algebra class.
About the same time hubby reached the door (wondering what on earth was wrong with me), I found the handle, turned it, and pulled. I should have pushed. Good grief.
When the door finally opened, sunlight flooded the room and a light switch appeared on the wall beside me—right where one might expect to find a light switch if one was expecting to need a light switch.
When I completed what I’d come for and turned to leave, I noticed a sign on the inside of the door: “To save energy, please turn off lights when you leave.” Wouldn’t a warning on the outside be a good idea? Frustrated and humiliated, I left the light on to spare the next person. While taking my turn on the bench with the water bottles, some other women came along. I suddenly wished I’d obeyed the sign, so I could determine whether I was the only one dopey enough to panic. Not until the next day did it dawn on me that my cell phone was in my backpack and would have provided a perfect flashlight. Duh.
The whole ordeal, though it took mere seconds, helped me realize how much I take my sight for granted. Last year I interviewed Gene McKenzie for a three-part series you may remember. He told me blindness can be exhausting because you must engage your brain in so many extra ways, not only utilizing your other senses but your observation skills and your memory, since your eyes can no longer tell you what’s what. Nothing like a teensy dose of personal experience to help me “see” what he meant.
That series about Gene, Lessons from a Blind Man, is in the running for a Word Guild Award. The winner will be announced tomorrow, September 25th, in a virtual ceremony from Toronto. If it wins, I’ll owe Gene even more gratitude.
For my vision, I owe my Creator gratitude every day of my life.