Monday, July 21, 2014

The Blind Couple From Japan

Taxi pulls up. I see the fare on the meter read "$57.68", which means the guest came from JFK airport. In the backseat are a young Asian couple.

The trunk pops open. The cabbie refrains from doing the patented "honk and gesture for me to do his job", so I gladly open the hood myself, retrieve the small, red suitcase inside, and await my guests. 

After a few minutes, they're still in there. I'm getting restless.

How long does it fucking take to pay for your cab? 

The cabbie gets out: 

Cabbie - "Sir, please. Can you help them?" 

Doorman - "What's the problem?" 

Cabbie - "They are... impaired." 

I open the door, and after a closer look, see the last thing I'd expect to - they're both blind. 

The woman has a credit card in one hand and several singles in the other. 

Doorman - "Hi." 

Cabbie - "This is the doorman!" 

She turns to my left ear. 

Woman - "Oh, hello! Excuse me, can you please help me?" 

Doorman - "Of course!" 

She holds up her credit card towards me. 

Woman - "I want to put $57.68 on my credit card." 

I don't know why my initial instinct was to give the cabbie an assist:

Doorman - "Ok, and how much would you like to tip?" 

She holds up the singles. 

Woman - "These are my tips!" 

Well, I'll be. 

I swipe the card and run it, then she hands the cash tip to the driver. 

Woman - "Excuse me, can you please help us inside?"

Doorman - "Of course." 

We all step out. They were both tiny, a couple of salt and pepper shakers. I grab the suitcase with one hand, then she takes my arm like we're walking into prom. Her boyfriend holds the back of her belt. It was like and L-shaped Congo line. 

I had once seen a blind person be guided into the building for the first time, so without her asking, I gave her exactly what she needed:

Doorman - "Ok, we have a door that pulls open, though there's usually a doorman here. Usually." 

Woman - "Ok, pull door."

I open the door and lead them to the steps. 

Doorman - "Now we have four steps." 

She places her cane foward and finds the bottom one, then counts "one, two, three, four" all the way up. 

Doorman - "Now we're going to go around to the right to the reception desk."

Woman - "To the right..."

Doorman - "Where are you from?"

Woman - "Japan." 

I lead them to reception, where I introduce the front desk girl who will be checking them in. She thanked me profusely as she took out her wallet.

For a second I thought I was getting a tip, but it was only to get out her passport. The bellman who took them upstairs, however, got two bucks for his services. 

About an hour later, they left with a private tour guide. 

It took a little while for this to sink in, but how fucking impressive is that? 

They were able to fly out to a foreign country, arrive at the airport, get to the taxi stand, then make it to their hotel. Granted, they may have been lucky to have encountered a few honest, good Samaritans along the way. But to take a leap of faith in humanity like that? Relying on strangers from a foreign land to get you to your destination safe and sound? It's just something I don't see, and I see A LOT of shit. 

It also makes me think- I turn 30 in a few days and I've never traveled. What the fuck is my excuse?

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