Disclaimer: I wrote this post on my day off; I took the day off for the Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting board meeting. It is actually my first board meeting and orientation to the board. I serve on other boards, and I was truly excited to be voted onto this one. I really care a lot about public broadcasting, and West Virginia has a great public broadcasting system. In October, on AFB CareerConnect, we will be profiling a couple that has their own radio show on WV Public Broadcasting. I am excited that Detra Bannister has worked with them on their story. Look for it in the coming month; they are two positive and proactive persons who are blind. I can tell you that they are great people too; I have known them through the WV National Federation for the Blind and other state events as well.
Anyway, I am going to address a different subject. I wanted to say it is important to push ourselves outside our comfort zone and to take measured risks. I have mentioned this in the past, as advice for youth, but it is important for all of us. For example, I travel all over the United States on my own via plane, train, taxi, and such. I was figuring out how I would get to this first board meeting an hour away from Huntington, WV. I knew there was a bus that I could take, but I was hesitant to do so. Why? I guess because it has been so long since I had taken it. I am also not as familiar with Charleston, WV, the city where the board meeting is being held.
I had thought about many different options for getting here, the bus in the morning was by far the cheapest method. The other thing is that it gets to Charleston about four hours before the meeting. That is a lot of time to kill. I spend a good amount of time at Marriott Hotels, and I could give you my review of many of them. There happens to be a Marriott a few blocks from the bus stop near the Charleston Town Center Mall. I figured I could get breakfast and use the internet there for a few hours. I was quite nervous about this, as I wasn’t confident in the route; even though it was short (a few blocks).
I decided this was the right plan, and I took the bus this morning. I arrived in Charleston. I got off the bus, and I started getting my bearings. I had researched the route by asking multiple reliable sources, including Lee Huffman, AccessWorld Editor, as well as my beautiful wife. My wife used to pick me up there when we were dating. Yeah, I was the guy hanging out at the bus stop, a bit funny to say. I started by crossing the bus lot to get to the sidewalk, then shorelined to find the opening to a walk through. I took this sidewalk to a street that goes along the perimeter of the mall. The closest crossing was an uncontrolled yield to pedestrian, so I was preparing to go to the end of the block. Someone asked, do you need assistance? I said, I was hoping to cross to get to the mall side of the street. He offered to assist, and I accepted the assistance.
Once I got across the street, I found that there was construction and no easy route around the mall. I was like, “Huh.” The guy was still nearby and said the construction has the sidewalk totally blocked. I said, I can cut through the mall to the other side, and he said that the mall was open to cut through. Believe me, if I could have taken the sidewalk, I would have. I went inside and started navigating through the mall. I heard the same guy say, “Do you need help finding your way?” I said, “Yes, that would make my life a little easier.” I thanked him and we walked through the mall to the side I was looking for. We chatted as we walked. I didn’t use human guidance for this, as I felt I could keep track as we spoke. We made it through. He assisted me out to the entrance that offered the closest access to the Marriott.
Along the way, he mentioned that he was waiting on his ride. He was working in construction, and had gotten out of prison in the last year. He mentioned that he came in on the same bus as me. He told me of his skill in his work, and that he was glad to be back to it. He also shared that he was starting to have vision issues. We discussed the issues, and I offered some advice and ideas for his issues. He was very nice to me.
The man assisted me to the area where the Marriott was located, and I thanked him. I wished him the best in his work and suggested that he follow through on his vision issues. I have to admit my “senses were up” when he mentioned prison and such, but he was no threat to me. Persons all deserve to be treated with respect and understanding. We have all made decisions that we regret and should be forgiven for. But, that is the point. I feel much more comfortable, as I sit in the Marriott lobby with a full stomach and I am typing away on my laptop. As I have mentioned in the past, 99 percent of people are good. I am not saying to take crazy risks. I was traveling in a public place. I think I need to make an effort to take the bus to Charleston more often. I need to push myself outside of my comfort zone, and keep my skills at a high level. For all of the traveling I do, I am not sure why I was so nervous.
Now, I may be at advantage. I am not the smallest of people. I am a male of a little under six feet with a weight over 200 pounds. I still try to take measured risks and stay aware when traveling. I avoid walking alone late at night, as most people tend to avoid that as well. I also try to judge the persons offering assistance by their speech pattern, trying to figure out if they are coherent and not intoxicated. (As an aside, VisionAware is a partner website to AFB that offers a lot of practical life advice, resources, and tips about dealing with vision loss.)
I suggest we all take measured risks and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. I hope this message encourages some people to push their own limits. I know I will take my own advice and make an effort to push myself more.
Mountain climber photo courtesy of Shutterstock.