It was pandamonium. Way too many people. Way too small a place. Way too many rules for where to stand. The cafeteria was full of confusion. In a wheelchair I'm not tall enough to scope the situation out and decide appropriate action. All Ican see is people swirling in front of me asking, "Is this where I go for the soup and sandwich?" "Is this where I go for the grill?" "Is this where I line up for the drinks?" Finally I see the line for the grill, just off the line for the salads, and head there.
I order a veggie burger, give my name for pick up, and then proceed along to pay. Our line is moving swifty, much more quckly than the other pay line on the other side. "Next!" a voicebox that must have been shaped at birth like a megaphone alternately shoves the last person away and pulls in the next calls out ahead of me. "Talk to me, I'm blind, what are you having?" it's an order, not a request, it's a statement of fact, not a plea for pity. This woman could teach drill sargents how to keep order.
Everyone quickly describes that they are having. Salad and fruit is weighed on the scale beside, keys are punched on the till, total is announced. "How you paying me? What size is the bill?" then cards are swiped or change is given. "NEXT!" At one point the customer didn't leave quickly and the woman slowly gathered up her stuff and didn't answer, "Is there someone in front of me, tell me your order," the next person quickly stepped into place and gave her order.
Her incredible efficiency was amazing. No dilly dally, no 'oh me oh my I'm so disabled be patient with me' - it was all straighforward effiency. I can picture her children standing at attention for inspection in the morning. When I was NEXT, I got up to the till and started to give my order. She could tell I was sitting not standing so she lowered her eyes to be about where she figured I was and continued to give instruction and take information. My money was swapped for change, I said "thanks" and moved on.
I've always heard about the need to adapt workplaces for people with disabilties. This may be the first time when a person with a disability was able to adapt a workforce. Where someone simply stated clearly what need to be done to get the job accomplished. And people did it. She had authority, dignity. She stated she was blind, not for pity, but to keep it clear that the interaction needed to be verbal. She whipped people through the line up faster than the sighted woman on the other side.
I wonder if she gets a kick out of that. But maybe she doesn't have time to notice.
"Next! Talk to me!"