By Nancy Scott
It was cold and raining. Caffeine didn’t help. But leaving the house to run errands would surely improve my outlook and desire to pay attention.
I packed things to be recycled— Braille magazines, Braille bills and rough draft poems. I had a small purse, a carrier, a Braille list of tasks and a cane. I remembered the two-dollar coupon for the local store with the great deli. My driver was on time.
Our first stop was the bank. I wanted tens and fives, but my local ATM only gives twenties; except, I didn’t have my signature guide to sign the withdrawal slip. I ALWAYS keep it in my purse. It was, I belatedly realized, at home in my case from the last time I took my poetry books to sell at the library meeting. I forgot to put the guide back. I improvised with my folded Braille errands list to use as the bottom edge as the signing line. It sort of worked. I folded each denomination in a different way. That, at least, didn’t give me any trouble.
Next was the store to use the coupon. Yummy meatloaf (I hate to cook), chicken salad, pickled cabbage the way it’s supposed to be, chunky applesauce, and milk. I usually buy a quart of milk. I’ve shown my sighted companion what a quart looks like (sighted people with families often buy bigger containers of milk). She’s gotten it right the last two times, so I didn’t ask her to show me the quart and it was a half-gallon. I didn’t know this until we were putting groceries in my carrier. The milk was heavier than I wanted and more than I needed but I didn’t check.
Worse, I didn’t quite spend enough to use the store coupon (you had to spend $20). I thought I was asking and tallying amounts but $17.50 at the register didn’t cut it.
Stopping at Burger King for cheeseburgers I could freeze didn’t pose any problems. I went home to put things away and scold myself for grand stupidity. Surely, today’s weirdness was over; until I went to get the mail.
I knew from stopping in the coffee room that electric bills were in. We often compare our usage amounts. I knew what my print bill would be because my electric company has an automated telephone feature that tells me the amount. In fact, I know my bill’s amount several days before print-reliant people.
I unlocked my mailbox after counting rows to find it. I pulled out the bill (plastic-windowed envelope) and a National Braille Press catalog. But the electric bill flew out of my hands and dropped to the floor. By now, I had begun to laugh.
“Maybe I should have stayed in bed today,” I thought.
I used my cane and my feet but no sound of paper. Crawling around was not an option, especially in public view in my building’s lobby. What to do? Go look for a sighted person and explain my dysfunction, I knew. Of course, all the coffee folks had just gone upstairs.
But sometimes, the universe looks out for us. A neighbor I knew forgot something and had to come back. He saw and picked up what I was looking for. The envelope had flown several feet farther than I had expected. I laughed and explained a little of my day. Harold laughed, too.
The next day I checked the bank’s automated phone system to make sure my withdrawal had gone through. I also wrote the withdrawal in my Braille ledger. And I thought about writing a rough draft of yesterday’s weirdness. I took trash over and straightened the kitchen. I managed a meatloaf sandwich, an apple and a package of Tastykakes for lunch. I made phone calls and wrote while listening to classical music.
Later, I went down for coffee and gossip and perhaps information. I mentioned that I better get my mail while Harold was still there in case I couldn’t hold onto it again. We laughed as I explained my flying electric bill to the other people in the room. But I managed just fine. It was a different day and the sun was shining.