[bct] Re: A True Story

  • From: "Jake Joehl" <jajoehl@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 14:42:03 -0600

Dana, that was very well-written and thought-provoking. As it happens I am also 
just sitting at my computer, whiling away the hours. I just took a phone call 
that was actually for my roommate. He is at meetings and is supposed to return 
later. I have some great computer skills, yet no job. I am a client? of my 
state VR agency and they don't seem too thrilled with me for some odd reason. 
So it seems any job lead or job coach I tell them about, they don't want to 
hear about it. My mom and I are going to work on a letter to our state Client 
Assistance Program and see if anybody can figure out what in the world is going 
on. But don't get me started on the VR system in this country. At least I'm 
getting out of the apartment this evening, because we have our weekly apartment 
meeting in the community room. Regarding the restaurant, I don't recall 
anything like that ever happening to me. But I must say, that Southern 
hospitality is great! So is the food!
Jake
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Dana Niswonger 
  To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Tuesday, 01 November, 2005 7:37 PM
  Subject: [bct] A True Story


  Spin The Plate
  With love and fond remembrance for Jane and Tommy Crocker
  Note to readers:
  If this is not well written it is because I am a teller rather than a writer 
and I apologize for syntax and grammatical errors in advance.

  In 1995, I lived in Anderson South Carolina.  I attended a little country 
Church in Starr on highway 81 South.  I get to go back there occasionally and 
visit some very dear people.
  One Sunday after service, knowing I was looking for work, a man and his wife 
approached me introducing themselves as Jane and Tommy Crocker.  Explaining 
that they ran a pallet manufacturing and recycling facility, they offered me a 
job.  I am an accomplished, if not very good at it, computer programmer and 
systems annalist.  I should point out here that my experience exists primarily 
on main frame computers rather than the web.  While I have used desk top 
computers throughout the development of talking software, I stayed away from 
programming in this area.  My last learned programming language was Turbo 
Pascal in 1992.  I have only recently become interested in the web because of 
pod casting and my possibilities as a web caster myself.  Sorry Larry, I still 
don't want to tackle XML.
  I spent the month of February riding around the 10 acre facility on a fork 
lift with Tommy and observing Jane at work in her office.  This was a manually 
operated factory, using men who worked with table saws, strippers, rippers, 
planers and air driven nail guns.  While Jane was an excellent accountant her 
technology didn't extend beyond a 10 key adding machine.
  After the month was up I told them to give me a week to do some research to 
see if what they wanted could even be done and how much it would cost.  The 
next seven days were spent on the phone and internet gathering information we 
might need to make the final decision.  Finally, we had Sunday dinner after 
Church once again and I told them the facts.
  While it would be possible to automate there facility, it would not be easy 
or cheep.  They said that they had some money and were willing to borrow more 
if they needed to so I agreed to take on the challenge.  Eight months and 1.2 
million dollars later the task was finished and what hair I had left had either 
either turned loose or gray.  More on the Pallet Patch growth process later if 
you ask.
  Now, it is a year later and I am sitting at my desk, monitoring the facility 
from my computer.  This requires that I keep track of the job mix and 
production stream.  This is a sequential process that must remain always 
synchronized.  Should there be a problem, everything came to a screaming halt, 
causing red lights to come on everywhere, sending the 25 employees to the 
office demanding an explanation.  They were paid on a production basis and 
anything that slowed them down was a cardinal sin.  This day, all three of 
these things happened.  This had not happened in a while and it worried me, 
especially as my employers were not there at the time.  I just might have a 
full scale riot on my hands.
  Investigation revealed that the margin for error in an electronic switch 
controlled by software had not been set tight enough and the proverbial poop 
had hit the fan.  It took me three and a half hours to find, change and test 
the new settings against a computer model.  All the while, the guys ragging me 
about there short pay checks and making threats against mine as well.  Finally, 
about 2-30 PM . in the afternoon things were running again and I had a terrible 
headache.  My wife picked me up around four and ask what I wanted for dinner.  
There was a new barbeque place we had been meaning to try and like a fool, I 
suggested this for supper.  I told her of my day and she consoled me as best 
she could on the ride back to town.
  Arriving at the pig pit, as they are known in the south, we were greeted by a 
friendly hostess.  After being seated and given menus, not in Braille, we 
awaited our server.  She arrived quite soon, introducing herself as Samantha 
and asking what we might like to drink.  I remember thinking, alright, she's 
treating me normally.  This is a big problem in the south as for some reason, 
the good people here seem to think we all know each other because we are blind 
and that's just number one on the hit parade of ignorance to blindness issues 
in this region.  We ordered normally enough and sat drinking our sweet tea, its 
the house wine of the south you know?  Our food arrived.  It was here that our 
server made her fatal mistake.  "Now, my sister is blind and she watches Little 
House On The prairie every day and says Mary Ingles likes to have her plate 
described like a clock, so:  Your meat's at two, your taters are at six and 
your slaw's at 11 o'clock. No, 10 o'clock, I mean well, about 9-30."  If you 
can imagine all this said in a shrill voice, with a deep southern accent, it 
will help you to identify with my problem regarding her conduct.  People were 
looking at us and my wife was waiting on tender hooks to see what I would do 
with this little situation.  Now remember, I had a bad day and really just 
wanted to eat dinner and go home.  Without any hesitation, I reached out, 
giving the plate a spin and said in my best Hannibal Lector voice, "not any 
more!", poking her in the ribs and giving her the classic Lector laugh.
  She made a funny sort of squeaking sound and scurried off without saying 
another word.  "Oh honey", my wife said.  "I don't think you should have done 
that."  Turns out she was of course, quite right.  Within a few minutes a man 
approached our table twisting a dish towel in his hands and introduced himself 
as the manager.  "Sir, could you please tell me what you said to my server?"  
"What is wrong", I ask?  "Well, she is hiding in the store room and refuses to 
come out."  Putting down my fork, picking up my cane I said.  "Take me to your 
server."  My wife was laughing quietly at this point as I have gotten myself 
into trouble before with my smart mouth.
  As he lead me through the restaurant I said, "tell me about Samantha".  
"She's 19 and very high strung", He said.  Oh great I thought, just what I 
need.  "Has she locked herself in", I ask.  "No, she just won't come out."  O 
K, I thought may be able to save us all.  Arriving at the door, I ask him to 
leave me alone with her and he left, gladly I think.  I pushed open the door 
and entered, listening and hearing a sobbing young woman at the back, about 20 
feet away.  I stayed where I was and said softly, "Samantha?".  "Yes sir," she 
sniffled.  "Can I come sit down by you so we can talk," I ask?  "Alright," she 
answered and I walked forward until I was near enough and sat down on the floor 
facing her.  "Samantha, I'm sorry, see, I've had a very bad day at work today 
and I had no right to take it out on you".  I felt like 10 cents worth of 
nothing by this time and would have done anything to help the girl feel better. 
 "Where do you work," she ask?  I told her and she sat up quickly from her 
slumped position.  "What do you do there?"  I told her this too and the sobbing 
stopped.  "Are there other blind people working their?"  "No," I answered.  
"Could my sister get a job like that, using a computer?"  "I don't know," I 
answered.  "What does your sister know how to do?"  "She just graduated from 
the school for the blind in Spartanburg."  "Does she know anything about 
computers, does she like math," I ask?  "they taught her some stuff their but 
I'm not sure what exactly, she is my twin."  Her mind had become completely 
diverted from her problem and she was now back in control of herself.  "Well," 
I said.  "My wife is out their, let's go ask her if we can set something up for 
you and your sister to visit where I work and see what I do to earn my supper."
  The following Tuesday, Samantha's day off, we picked up her and Lizzie, 
spending the day together putting Lizzie's hands on everything at The Pallet 
Patch.  She got to do my job with a little help and I think they both enjoyed 
themselves.  All's well that ends better and we remain friends to this very 
day.  We will all no doubt make mistakes in our ways in dealing with ourselves 
and the world around us but it our willingness to correct them that makes the 
memory that lasts forever.  Good job both Eric and Jeff.
  Respectfully Submitted for your Approval,
  From the no light zone!
  Dana Niswonger

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