Adult Group Excellent Work (Japan)
“From a Cup of Coffee”
Koto Ward, Tokyo Miho Hayashi (42 years old, employee of Braille publishing office, female)
I This is about a very heart-warming story I encountered on a very cold day.
It was a January morning with biting cold wind blowing.
Like every morning, I was taking a 20-minute walk to the day care center holding my 5-year-old daughter’s hand. I was born completely blind, and started to walk with the aid of a guide dog when I was about 20 years old. I wasn’t worried about using white cane. I chose guide dog in order to protect myself from the fear of molesters and stalkers which I encountered a few times. But my guide dog became a part of my body completely, and gave me great support when walking outside with my daughter.
After I left my child at the day care center, I headed to the station to go to work. The route to my station is well maintained and the sidewalk is separated from the roadway. But since there is a lot of bicycle traffic, I’ve had many blood freezing experiences before.
Close to the station, there is a place where the sidewalk thin down. The width is just wide enough for two people to pass each other. When I passed there with my guide dog, suddenly I felt sharp pain on my right shoulder and hip and fell backwards. By the time I realized that I was hit by a bicycle that came from the front forcing its way by me, I was down on the ground with my body skewed. Because there was strong pain in the right shoulder and hip, I couldn’t get up right away. The bicycle was long gone, but a staff from the fast-food restaurant nearby came out to help me.
A police officer came running from a police box too and I heard them talking. “Are you okay? Can you get up?” “No, we shouldn’t move her.” “Should we take her to a hospital by taxi?” “Let’s call an ambulance just in case she has a fracture.” Luckily I didn’t hit my head, so I was alert, but it seemed like I wouldn’t be able to walk for a while.
The manager of the restaurant brought a chair and helped me sit on it. But I felt the cold badly on that day in January, and while I waited for the ambulance it made me feel so miserable. Anger toward the bicycle that ran away, sadness of my helplessness, and the pain and coldness... I had no way to find out the color of the hit-and-run bicycle or what the person riding it looked like. That made me feel very small.
Just then, the restaurant manager brought me a cup of coffee. “You must be freezing. Have a drink while you wait.” It was really warm and grateful that my eyes brimmed with tears. His kindness seeped deeply into my heart which was chilled and frayed while waiting for the ambulance alone on the street.
After that, I was taken to a hospital by ambulance. Fortunately, I was diagnosed as having minor injuries such as bruises, sprains, and pulled muscles. Rehabilitation was necessary, but I was thankful that it didn’t affect my daily life.
One week later, I visited the fast food restaurant to thank them for their kindness. As I tried to leave after thanking them, the manager said “Here are some coupons. Please come again,” and handed me a few slips of paper. And on the top sheet, there was a message in Braille!
It said “Good luck” on it. The letters were written backwards, from right to left. It was only one line, but how it surprised me! “Um, my daughter is a fourth grader. And I told her about you. She just learned about Braille at her school, so she borrowed the typewriter from her teacher to write this, and asked me to give it to you. Is it readable?”
The manager’s face while he shyly talked about his daughter was a face of a kind father. I wonder what she felt when she heard about my accident. A girl who typed Braille she just learned to send her words to me even though I was a stranger to her. I’ve never met her but I felt her kindness through this piece of paper, the kindness nurtured by her parents’ deep affection.
I told him, “It is written beautifully. Please send my best wishes to her,” and left the restaurant. I still felt some pain in my body, but my heart was very warm. In exchange for the bitterness of injury, I had a very happy encounter.
It’s been six years since the accident, but the street near the station is still dangerous. There are people walking while using their smart phones, reckless bicycle riders, etc. We visually impaired are facing the danger of encountering an accident every day.
But, if more people turn their eyes to the pains of the weak like that girl, maybe the situation will improve little by little. At least, I hope so.
I will never forget about that kind manager and the girl who gave me that heart-warming letter. Thank you so much.