For our American friends, it's Thanksgiving, and at Toastmasters last night, this was a topic upon which I was required to produce an impromptu speech (something they will keep picking on me for, gobby show-off that I am!).
Anyway, I was asked to describe a single experience this year for which I was thankful. Now, this was quite difficult for me, not because there weren't any, but because there were loads. Don't panic, I not about to bore you with some soppy list of stuff for which I'm gushingly grateful (health, family, friends, a job, the internet, cheese, yadda, yadda). Just take them as read, OK? In the end, I talked about blogging and not being fired and produced two minutes of purest drivel, but that's by the by.
What I am grateful for is something I didn't even know existed until today.
I was out walking with my good friend Don't Feed the Pixies when we came to a busy road junction. Now, in England, we have pedestrian-controlled traffic lights where there is a little box with a button which can be pressed to get the lights to change and stop the traffic. This is one of the finest inventions ever in my book, but that's not what I'm on about.
For me as a partially-sighted person, crossing the road is really tricky so these crossings are a real boon. Sadly, I can't usually see the green walking man sign light up - they're usually positioned on the opposite side of the road, beyond my visual range. I generally have to peer at the "wait" sign just above the button on my side until its backlight goes out, then I know it's safe to cross. Some crossings have beepers for visually-impaired folks, but most do not. On sunny days, it can be really hard to tell when the wait sign has stopped being lit up – that's assuming some idiot has not vandalised the thing in the first place which is all too common.
Now here's the thing.
DFTP mentioned that underneath all the button boxes on these crossings there is a little knurled knob which rotates when it's safe to cross. If you place your fingers on it, you can feel it turn and feel confident that you can cross without becoming strawberry jam.
So, today, I'm thankful for a friend thoughtful enough to relay this information and also for whoever it was that came up with the idea in the first place.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!