Sunday, November 19, 2006

Under a Palm Tree Collecting 

Thanks to CW and Kathryn for their positive feedback about the street appeal! We raised over $2500 (thanks everyone!) and I raised $90 in a couple of hours.

At first I headed off with nothing but me and my tin to the town hall. I soon shifted to the opposite side of Hay outside McDonalds. Not much happened and it's hard not to feel like a failure when you have a single coin in your tin, let me tell you! So I darted back to Citiplace (at the train station, where we were based) to grab my backpack, tip a few more coins in the tin, and, yes, take out my cane.

With elderly members of the organisation getting out there to collect, I did feel that it was important to do what I could, regardless of how sighted/blind I am, or how much I need/do not need/feel comfortable with/do not feel comfortable with my cane. We didn't have t-shirts or bibs (hey, netballers wear bibs, it's not just a kiddy garment) to identify our cause, just our name tags and the tins. I kept checking that the word 'blind' rather than the word 'citizens' could be seen by passersby.

Back at McDonalds, three people stopped to donate before two organisers came along for a chat. Every so often they catch up with the collectors and make sure everyone's okay. Perth hosted the final of the Red Bull Air Race this weekend and the racers practised over the Swan River on Friday. Someone suggested that the foreshore might be a good place to collect.

So off I went! After a bit of dithering, I moved from a billboard (not fair to advertisers) to the bus shelter (not fair to public transport users) to a garden wall surrounding a palm tree. I stood in the shade on a sunny day, felt the gentle breeze, listened to (and occasionally saw) the planes and chatted to people taking a break! Near to me people visited the Swan Bells, bought food and drink, sat in the sun, and came and went on ferries, CAT buses, a red double decker bus and the tourist tram.

Only one man spoke to me without donating - he wanted to know where I bought my backpack (ummm, Margaret River?). One friendly guy donated while on his mobile, somehow engaging two people at once without a hitch. I met a woman visiting with her husband from Adelaide for the air race, a couple from Mt Barker up for medical tests, a woman from the UK taking children to the zoo, and two women - one a wheelchair user - who hoped to see the air racers practise.

I didn't count, but I'm quite sure more men than women donated. One man said he couldn't pass me one more time without donating. I hadn't seen him before. Another guy gave me spare change he wanted to clear out and when I asked if he'd like a sticker, he said he already had one. And so he did - he'd already donated to another collector near the Plaza Arcade.

I gave out lots of stickers, and asked everyone if they'd like one. I proffered the roll and let people take their own - even if I could see this would be more practical - no need to double-handle the stickers. People thanked me for them. A few children dropped coins in the tin - the right demographic for a small sticker!

One member brought her daughter along to help collect but it's against the law for a child under 16. People with guide dogs raised the most money but explained to those who asked that the money went to humans. A stranger came into our base, donated, and said she'd had a vision that she should come in and collect for us. With some misgivings (giving tins to strangers is risky - they can disappear with the tins and the money), an organiser let her go and the woman returned with $200!

I didn't just lean my cane against a wall while I collected, I also used it for mobility to get around the city. A senior cit at Citiplace said to her friend as I walked past and smiled 'that one can see.' When I came back without my cane to go to the toilet, I smiled at them again and I heard her say, 'I told you she could see.' I acknowledged them once more on my way back but she didn't say hello, so I didn't explain.

I know it's confusing and, ironically, while using my cane I nearly walked into a couple of signs coming up Barrack St towards the Terrace. When I use it, I need to look forward to stand and walk straight. However, if I look forward, I can't use my islands of vision as effectively. I think it mucks up the rhythm of my walk. Yes, Dee's Rhythm Method of Scanning for Hazards. But is it reliable?

So there you go, that's my couple of hours in the city. I have a sunburnt decolletage (really!) to show for it but I think it was worth it. And hey, I learnt I can shake it left-handed. A great workout for your forearms, especially if people are generous.

People were generous - ordinary people out enjoying their day.

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

This page is powered by Blogger.