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I used to volunteer to read to the blind, before it became too big a drain on my time (I recorded books).

The engineers were blind, and one day, I walked in and the entire board was brand new. I mean, we're talking vaccum tubes-to-microchip new.

The engineer on duty, Ralph, was working, hands flying over the board, adjusting levels, doing mic checks from three studios, and monitoring all three. I was stunned. It was as if he had worked that new board for years.

I asked him about it during a lull, and he kinda smiled and said to me "when you're blind, you become a fast learner or you sink." He went on to explain that not only had he memorized the old board, but he made a point of studying at other boards in recording studios and radio stations around the city, whenever he could.

Then, when they told him he'd be getting a new board, he ran his Rolodex down in his head, and called the studio that he remembered had a similar model to get a few hours sitting at a dead board, going over the controls.

In fact, when he went back to his job the next day, he asked if he could make some recommendations so that it would be an easier transition for the other two of whom had 20/20 peeps!

Resourceful, creative, and one more thing: he understood the needs of his readers and his listeners and he felt that if he hadn't taken these extra steps, the process would get bogged down. He got that he had an unique perspective on what listeners would be going thru and that to deprive them unnecessarily of even this small accomodation was to really throw their day into a tizzy.

Yea, he could see, a little bit, much like your friend Steve. But he never felt like he *had* to see at work because he made sure he didn't have to.

I regretted having to give that up, but I was glad to hear he had retired a few years ago after nearly a half century on the job.


I totally understand Steve's point about recognizing people by how they move. My cubicle is near our office's door, and outside that door is a tiled hallway. I can't see the door or the hallway from my desk, but I always know who of my colleagues has just entered, because I recognize the sound of the way they walk. It's never even occurred to me that this required any special powers of observation. It's no different from learning to read: this shape equals that sound. In this case, that sound equals this person.


Lance - great post - am going to go read the op=ed tonight
actor212 - amazing story -
Karen - I am a noisy clickity click myself. Sigh.


Remembering people by their movement reminds me of one of my favorite Sinatra songs:

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
No they can't take that away from me


Ah, generation gaps! You see, Linkmeister, that will always and forever be Fred Astaire to me.

(Although, of course, it's the Gershwins.)


Karen, I have the Astaire version on CD, but I like the arrangement Sinatra did better. Somehow I doubt that you're older than I. Why, my beard brushes my knees! ;)


loved the opt ed - and if steve is the guy in the red tee shirt - he's cute!


Linkmeister, you've definitely got me beat on the beard front!


Somehow I doubt that you're older than I. Why, my beard brushes my knees! ;)

Mine would, if arthritis hadn't claimed them already, and HEY! YOU KIDS! Get off my lawn!

velvet goldmine

I've always felt that some people are more attuned to the sixth sense than others. The theory that different people have distinct energy fields is not bunk, even though words like "aura" and "vibes" do make one cringe a bit.

Some people are more sensitive to that energy than others, and I'm sure blind -- and deaf -- people are at the top of that list.


Dear Lance:

I wish to point out for your readers that you have a great arm, or at least you did back in those days. It’s not everyone can throw a football to a blind guy. Oh Lance, if you’d just been two inches taller and a little meaner around the edges you could have been a contender!

As for my uncanny ability to tell when a pretty woman was walking by, I think it’s only fair that I share with your readers the fact that you always hold your breath when lovely girls hove into view. We’d be sitting there in some Iowa City eatery and talking about the Pickwick Papers and then suddenly you weren’t talking or breathing. “Christ,” I’d think to myself, “Is Lance overdosing on the Victorians?” But no, it was a vision of fancy; a Jimmy Carter “lusting in the heart” and just so your readers understand, the application of old fashioned smelling salts always brought you back around. I should also add for your readers that your voice is with me always.

Much love, amigo!



Readers, in case you're wondering, I can assure you these two have aged well...

Love the photo, Lance. You don't mind if I borrow it do you?


I might be able to shed some light on the ability to recognize people from distances... :) Check out -- it's a very well-done personal site (not mine) about a processing disability that forces people to rely on different input to recognize others. It might look like a "supernatural" kind of thing, because the person (whether faceblind or legally blind) can't rely on the kind of data that others do, but as you'll see, it's basically what you suspected: we're simply relying on different input.

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