My 5th lesson with Tamar wasn’t a long one and it didn’t involve using Zelda, but I did get to play with toy cars.
I got there a little bit late. It was an early lesson and I knew I would need coffee in order to function, so I suggested to Joe that we visit the drive through at McDonalds, across the street from the Braille Institute. I don’t normally do McDonalds, but I was desperate for some caffeine. I ordered a latte’ and it was apparently a special order because we were asked to drive to a reserved area and wait for someone to bring the latte’ to us. I was already running late and the latte’ put me back a further ten minutes, but it was pretty good and Tamar didn’t seem to bothered; I had texted her to let her know that the need for coffee had won out over timeliness.
I unfolded Z outside the BI and went inside to wait for Tamar in the lobby; I think people are starting to recognize me because they are even friendlier than when I fist went to Braille, and I am no longer required to wear a visitor sticker. I am one of the regulars now.
Tamar met me in the lobby with a large piece of painted cardboard and some zippered pouches; she said that it was time to learn how to safely approach and maneuver street crossings. Then we went into the cafeteria. No, there are not any street crossings in the cafeteria, but Tamar had come equipped with a miniature model of a street and plenty of toy cars.
I could give you the play by play of what she taught me, but let me just give you the key terms: Near Side Parallel, Far Side Parallel, Near Side Perpendicular, Far Side Perpendicular and Buddy Car. I am now armed with these terms at every cross walk I encounter.
I stop at the light and even if I still have time to cross, I wait until the next light because this gives me the chance to get a handle on what the cars in all 4 positions are doing, and locate my buddy car, which is the car in the Near Side Parallel position. Tamar suggested that while I am learning, I pay attention to the cars rather than relying on the walk signals.
The light turns green, I listen for the surge of engines of the cars driving parallel to the cross walk and the car to my left that could potentially be turning right. Once I see the car in the lane parallel to the crosswalk start to move and make sure there are no right turners to my left, I know it is safe to cross. If this sounds confusing, it totally is. It is learning to cross the street all over again; just more safely and efficiently.
I find myself thinking about car positions now, not only when I am at a cross walk, but when I am walking down the sidewalk or in the car with Joe. There is so much to remember and so many steps in ensuring that I am doing things in the safest possible way for myself and others. I look forward to the time when it is all just second nature.