Road Works

How is it that road works always appear in my path when I'm trying to keep an appointment? Or it's raining? Of course, sometimes there's been advance notice in the local paper and therefore on GTN, its taped version. But usually, the first inkling I have is my guide dog coming to a sudden halt across my bows.

So we stand there, Dog and me, hoping for assistance. And, of course, the street is empty, as devoid of life forms as the moons of Jupiter. What about the Men at Work? Well, if they are present, they usually seem incapable of noticing the forlorn and helpless pair. Dog looking perplexed, wee wifie gingerly prodding at the nearest bit of equipment with a dainty shoe.

It's not as if I'm a size 6, being guided by a chihuahua; you'd think a pale labrador retriever and his sonsy charge would be obvious, but no. Most work involving trenches and holes in the pavements seems to be done by blind, deaf numpties. I've often wondered where such jobs are advertised, as I would apply, but perhaps the fact that I have acute hearing for my age would preclude me. It is extremely frustrating to peer through the haze, and discern various fuzzy blobs moving around and the twinkle and flash of big pieces of equipment. Usually there are a few bright orange shapes as well. Meanwhile, I can hear the grumble of generators, a radio not quite tuned into West Sound, voices. All the aural and visual clutter of road works.

It used to be that Dog and I waited patiently, believing that eventually someone would grab my arm and drag us through the maze. However, years of missed appointments and soakings in Scottish weather have brought about a change of tactics. None are polite, and certainly, none are lady-like.

Firstly, I start blasting my dog whistle. Occasionally, this elicits a response from either a workman or even another pedestrian. I'm not fussy. Any arm will do as a guide, except that of a mad axeman.

If that doesn't work, and it seldom does, then I go into Mad Puss Cat mode. This is named after a cat we once owned. Sam was cute, beige and fluffy most of the time, until he became upset. Then. . .Well!

Before I continue, I should warn you that this behaviour is not for the shy, and could land the participant on the front page of the local paper. But one of the first things I had to accept which would make a disability tholable was that I had to become an extrovert.

So, if I haven't done it already, I drop Dog's harness handle, the accepted sign that assistance is required. Then I start to shout for help, stamp and kick any equipment on which I can focus . Then I home in on the badly tuned radio, which is usually in a vehicle; the white Transit is the most common. And I slap the doors and windscreen. If I were braver, I'd lean through the open window and peep the horn but then I might be charged with breach of the peace. All very embarrassing. But effective. Suddenly, whilst Dog stands there, pretending he's not with me, the numpties remember they can see and hear.

“Dae ye waant by, hen?”

“No, I'm just providing a bit of street theatre.”

What a stupid question! Or are guide dog owners, ancients relying on walking sticks etc going ballistic near the roadworks barriers so commonplace that the numpties have become blasé? Or is it an obscure spectator sport about which I've been totally unaware? Namely, someone sponsored by Scottish Water, BT or some other utility digs a hole in the pavement, erects a barrier and then invites all his pals to sit in the back of his Transit, reading The Sun and waiting for the fun to start when some disabled soul or O.A.P. totters into view? If, so when is it going to be selected for the Olympics?

© Charlotte Bennie 2007