By Anthony Corona
So having vision issues or being totally blind can really suck sometimes. The world you live in changes so dramatically so quickly that after a while when you come up for breath you look around and realize it’s not the same world you once lived in at all! You, for lack of a better way of saying it, experience the world in a lot of completely different ways.
You want to experience the world the way you always have and search for ways to make that happen — but sometimes it’s extremely challenging and you have to admit defeat in that area. You have to sometimes take up to a dozen more steps to complete a simple idea or task than when you could just hop out of bed, look around, and do whatever it is you wanted to do! The world around you has changed and so have the people. I repeat — so have the people!
I was born on and lived most of my life on Staten Island (which is in the city of New York for those of you who don’t know, and from various social media forms and traveling I realize not many people know that, LOL) — been born and raised in New York City, most of us are very familiar and fluid traveling mass transit a.k.a. buses, trains, and the good old institution called the Staten Island Ferry. as we islanders call the big orange fleet of boats is our most direct link with Manhattan — or as most islanders call that amazing island, THE CITY!!! A ferry runs most of the time on the half hour and carries thousands of people between the islands. I am not going to bore you with a lengthy description of how one boards and rides the boat. You can Google or YouTube and get a real good idea of the process if you are so inclined. My story takes place after I was already on board and seated.
At this point I should take a few lines to digress from the start of the silly event to tell you that traveling as a Blind person (with Guide Dog or white cane) often we are approached in ways that would make you cringe. Things are said to us that are so sad, comical or just plain wrong and not for the better! I am so often asked “Where is my person?” “My Person” as if the gods, aliens or the government waved a magic wand as I lost my sight and created this magical PERSON that would now spend all his or her nights ushering me around and obeying my every whim and command. I digress…it is with that annoying question and assumption my story begins.
“Where is your person?” a woman asked me recently on the ferry as I and my very well-behaved Guide Dog Boaty sat quietly on the boat one day. I patiently responded that I was traveling alone and had my trusty sidekick to help me. I should have known and just said my person was taking a leak.
Well since I didn’t have a person, Melissa, as she introduced herself, began to ask questions about my wonder dog.
Questions like: “How does he know where to take you?” “How does he know when the light is green?” AND my personal favorite, “How does he tell you when to get off?” Now I wanted to tell her just how to get off at that point but I decided to go in another way.
I’ve actually been asked that question before and my standard answer is that I have been taking the ferry since I was in my mother’s womb. With Melissa i decided to have a little fun. After eliciting a promise from her to keep what I was about to tell her between her and I, and receiving her solemn vow, here is what I said.
“Boaty is a NASA dog,” I said in my most dramatic whisper.
She sat silent for a moment before she just as dramatically gasped. “Really?”
“We are part of a very special pilot program,” I continued. “Boaty has a very high-tech microchip implanted in his brain and is trained to act to process info sent directly to him from NASA satellites. It’s so amazing he thinks at thirty times the speed of even genius level humans.”
I sat with a deadpan expression as she exclaimed and then gushed over how lucky I was and began to praise my wonder dog. I bet that right about now you’re wondering what her next question was…
“Does he get much interference when it rains?”
That’s when I knew I had her. I could feel the mirth emanating from the passengers around us, but I continued to explain my $200,000 dog to her. I told her that through integrated GPS and various other top NASA software he can get me anywhere int the world as well as performing amazing tasks. The conversation went on in this way until the boat docked and she was able to follow me and my WONDER DOG to witness it for herself.
Boaty and I travel this route so often we can make it down into the subway without any verbal cues. After she witnessed this miracle I elicited her sole promise never to reveal my “secret” to another living soul.
Fast forward about a week later when I get a call from my best friend.
“what did you do??” My friend Lori screamed into the phone.
She then went on to tell me about a Facebook post about this amazing Guide Dog “Melissa” met on the Ferry. It was a hysterical post and the comments were priceless.
Sometimes you just have to have a little fun and with Boaty its real easy to find those joy-filled moments.