I recall that I gave a slight sigh at his comment, feeling a minor depression forming somewhere in the back of my mind, deep in some rift of grey matter, and I turned to go. It was best to simply go at that point. To leave. To retreat. To leave this man alone before he confused me even more with his ability to see when he was blind and to know without being told. Odd, I thought, How like him he was to the rest of the world in many ways and yet completely unlike the world in many other ways. Too complex for my wee brain to handle and so I turned to go just as he spoke.
“Do you know there is little difference between a white piece of paper and a black piece of paper?”
I was at the Tampa Library earlier today and I stepped outside for a moment to check the weather. There I found a very thin, grey-haired man standing alone leaning up against a pillar near the front door of the building. I noticed that he held a white cane with a red tip on it that informed me that he was blind. We both stood there about twenty feet apart without speaking. I noticed that the cane was held lightly in his right hand and his left hand was hanging loosely with nothing to do . I looked again at the cane and, being someone interested in math, I was curious about the angle that he and the cane formed.
“Forty-five degrees,” he said without looking in my direction.
“What?” I asked, surprised by his comment as I had said nothing to him and wasn’t even sure if he knew I was standing near him.
“Forty-five degrees,” he said again, and then added, “You were wondering at what angle my cane was set from my body. It’s forty=five degrees.” He sniffed and wriggled his nose as if something had irritated it.
“But I didn’t say anything to you.”
“I know,” he signed. “But it’s a common question by those, like you, who are curious about angles and such.”
We stood in silence for several moments and then I added, “But I am the only one out here.”
He turned his head to the left and then to the right and said, “Yep, you’re right. I haven’t seen anyone out here for at least twenty minutes.”