I was stretching outside my apartment building this past summer before my run through Central Park. I noticed a man from across the street walking with a long white stick. He was African American, in his early 60’s and was wearing sunglasses. I then watched a car try inching his way onto the street, and heard a loud horn. The blind man continued on his way to the corner.
I walked over to the guy behind the wheel, and asked him why he honked the horn, and at a blind man, nonetheless. What was the point, what kind of person does that? He ignored me, but I could tell he felt pretty stupid.
I walked over to the corner and grabbed the man’s arm and asked him if he needed help. He said “Thank you”. When we crossed the street, I asked him if he needed further assistance and he smiled and said he was cool. “Where are you going”? I asked. He said “ Sloan Kettering, the Cancer Hospital”. I said I know it well. I will walk you.
He took my arm and chuckled. He said my arm felt like a leg. I smiled and asked him how he does what he does, you know walking around the city in the dark.
He had a brain tumor five years ago which was operated on and caused him to go blind. He now had kidney cancer and was checking into the hospital for an operation. “I am not in the dark, son. I can see just fine.”
I told him about Max. He told me he was teary eyed. “Tell Max, that Bruce from The Bronx will be praying for him”. We continued to walk across First Avenue and down towards the entrance of the hospital on York Avenue. I walked him in through the revolving doors to where they admit patients.
He thanked me and I shook his hand, wishing him luck. He said, “Remember your eyes are there for you to see. Don’t take them for granted. Too many people that have the ability to see, are so damn blind.”
Like the guy that honked at you? I responded. “Precisely. I made it to the corner before him and as we were crossing he was just turning.” “You are right- how did you know that?” I said. “Because, I could smell the exhaust from his car as he passed us by.”
I decided not to run Central Park but to run The East River. Before I started to run I closed my eyes to see what it was like to be blind. I then put on my ipod and started to run. With the wind on my face and sun reflecting off the water, I tuned out.
From that day on, every time I smell the exhaust from a car or bus, I think of Bruce, the blind man from the Bronx who doesn’t need his eyes to see. Now, you will too…..