Friday, February 8, 2013

The Blind-Driver Theory

A funny thing happened to me the other morning on the Express bus.

So many blog posts start like this, but the story I'm about to tell has very little to do with the bus or its passengers. It took place on the bus, which means it's busworthy.

I'm sitting in the window seat behind the articulation zoning out, watching the drivers in slow moving traffic heading toward downtown. We were in the carpool lane passing all of them by. I was half asleep, when suddenly I saw a white work van. It had a custom lettering job and a vanity license plate.

The company name was Dan The Blind Man.
The vanity license plate read "BLINDMN."

"HOLY SHIT!" I thought to myself. "That man is BLIND!"

Seriously, until I saw the little picture of Venetian blinds under the company name, I thought the driver was blind. I was both surprised and fascinated at how he was driving and why he would advertise the fact he's visually impaired on the road. It would have been like a warning label. Like a Student Driver magnet stuck on a Ford Taurus.

I felt a little ashamed at how naïve this was, but do keep in mind I was starting to doze off in my little corner of the bus.

This whole thing reminded me of when I was a kid. I had seen handicapped parking spots, and I think I'd seen a person with hearing aids park in one of these stalls. I made the deduction that if deaf people could drive (deducing, of course, the person with the hearing aids was totally deaf - not just hard of hearing), blind people could drive as well.

I was terrified. For months I watched each car carefully as I walked to or from school, thinking that the driver might be visionless.

This was when I lived with my great grandma in Tennessee and we didn't have a car. She was too old to drive and we couldn't afford one anyway. My aunt and uncle who lived with us did have cars, but overall, I didn't ride in them often. Because of this, I was a little afraid of them. They could start on their own, slip out of gear and start an uncontrollable roll, or just not stop when they're supposed to.

Cut me some slack, Readers. I was like six years old.

Granny would tell me, "Now, you better watch out for cars when you cross the street. Drivers don't always see kids and won't be able to stop in time."

"Mmm hmm," I'd respond, nodding my head. I'd imagine the driver pulling into a handicapped parking stall at the Service Merchandise and whipping out their white cane while fumbling the keys around at the lock. And I'd get a cold shiver.

Fueling my Blind-Driver Theory was the fact that all of the physically disabled people I knew got around perfectly fine. The best example is the furnace repairman our family friend Spider sent to help us with our heating.

Honestly, you haven't really lived until you can say you know a guy named Spider. The Spider I knew was super cool and from what I remember, he looked like David Soul from Starsky and Hutch.

Spider didn't have a leather jacket or turtleneck. He had a navy blue mechanic's jacket and a white t-shirt. He helped us out when things broke down. He was rad. (Photo courtesy of

The repairman, who looked nothing like Starsky, had probably just come home from a tour of Vietnam and been hurt over there. He was missing his middle and ring fingers on one hand. I am ashamed to admit I was mesmerized watching him work with his crab-like hand. His missing fingers didn't affect his work at all. So if this guy can function perfectly fine, the drivers entitled to a special parking spot must have a loss of senses; they're deaf or blind.

You can imagine the rush of relief I felt when I learned that people who are blind can't legally drive. That doesn't mean they couldn't try....

I tried to find Dan The Blind Man's website, and while he can see well enough to drive, apparently he is blind to Internet marketing strategies. He has no website. Don't trust him for your window covering needs. He's playing on the sympathy of vulnerable, tired bus riders for a non-existent affliction and he doesn't have an Internet presence. Two definite red flags.

"Hutch, I think the bad guys are upstairs in that Chinese joint on the South end."
"Starsky, never mind the bad guys. These boots are supa fly!"

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