As a blind person, learning a route from point A to point B can take a lot of time and practice. I'd been working with an Orientation and Mobility instructor for several months, and I was pretty confident that I could do the walk from school to home on my own. I grew up in a town of about 10,000 people, and the town itself was still kind of behind the times in many respects. We had sidewalks in the downtown areas, but where I lived we had no sidewalks and I had to walk in the street for part of my route. Despite this fact though, I was willing, I was confident, and I was ready to go.
The school was a rather old building that had no air conditioning, and in the June heat, even in the early morning, the building felt like it was about 150 degrees with the humidity being at about 200 percent. You could literally feel the stickiness on everything -- from the brick walls of the school to the highly over-varnished wooden chairs that we all sat on and, in many cases stuck to after long periods of time. Summers in Wisconsin; even northern Wisconsin, can often be quite hot and humid.
Because of my transportation problems, it had been arranged that I would get my individual flute lesson on the same day as the regular band rehearsal so that I wouldn't have to go to the school more than once a week. This was great, accept that it meant I'd be carrying my flute, my music book, and whatever else I needed for that day. Why I didn't think of using a backpack of some kind is beyond me.
I am a cane user. I use my cane in my right hand, and it moves in an arc back and forth across my body at about the width of my shoulders. This allows me to check for obstacles that are in front of me. Because the cane rarely ever loses contact with the ground, there has to be a way of checking for other things that aren't on the ground such as signs or tree limbs. Typically this is done by holding the hand without the cane out in front of you at about head level so that the hand and arm hits the object before you do. Because both my hands were full, this just wasn't happening.
About halfway between school and home was a Dairy Queen. It was on a really weird angled corner, and it was this corner that took me the most time to learn to manipulate. I don't exactly remember all the details now, but I do know that they have since rebuilt this particular corner. There was a parking lot right off of a street that was fairly busy, and an extremely narrow passage between this parking lot and the street. In the middle of the passageway was a pole. I'd gotten pretty good at maneuvering this area, but it was definitely more difficult while carrying things. Once I got past this area though I knew I was home free and the rest of the route, (accept for climbing the hill that we lived on of course), would be simple.
So, on this particular day, I had just made my way around the pole, although I think I may have bumped it a bit on my way by. A couple seconds later there was a car beside me and a man was calling to me. He introduced himself as a police officer and asked me if I was okay. I told him that I was fine and thanked him for stopping to check on me.
All the way home though, I tried to come up with a way I could twist the story to make it more entertaining. The story I came up with, and still love to tell to this day, is this.
While walking by the Dairy Queen on my way home I got stopped by a cop. He gave me a warning for violating pedestrian laws. I was walking two miles an hour in a mile-an-hour zone.