Tuesday, 18 June 2013


Decades ago, many public buildings had kiosks (called smoke stands) staffed by blind people who sold various snack foods, cigarettes, and other items. As far as I know, they've all been closed. What happened to cause this employment opportunity for sight-impaired adults to vanish? The answer might surprise you.

I worked for about nineteen months in various smoke stands in Edmonton during the late seventies. During those times, I witnessed sighted people walk in and brazenly steal merchandise. One afternoon at the University Hospital, I actually saw a man walk in, grab a carton of milk from the cooler, and walk out without paying. When I objected, the man who was training me said that I shouldn't make a fuss. "That man always does that," he explained. I felt so stunned that I couldn't speak. People actually had the nerve to rob the blind and feel all right about it.

I also was robbed of some merchandise. Two men wanted to look at the various watches we had for sale at the Corona Hotel smoke stand. I dutifully showed them the ones they were interested in. What i didn't see was that the crooks pocketed some of them. Only after they had left and I put the watches back did I discover the theft.

I did manage to catch one boy in the act of stealing when a chocolate bar fell out of his pocket. I hope he realized how despicable it was to rip off the blind.

On another occasion, a man walked in and took a plaque from a shelf and walked out. Fortunately, a hotel staff member confronted the thief and brought back the plaque.  Again I felt disgusted at the callousness of people.

All these thefts by sighted individuals added up. One by one, the stands were closed down and blind people ended up unemployed. As I wrote in my new book called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, the CNIB laid me off. When I asked for another job somewhere else, my former boss told me that there were none and nobody was willing to quit just so I could have a job. Because of that unhelpful answer and other let-downs, I lost all respect for the CNIB.

I mentioned other incidents of unhelpful advice from people I once trusted in my How I Was Razed memoir. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers. My previous paperbacks are featured on the left hand side of the left side of this page.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not surprised blind vendors were robbed. While I was doing my six-month internship in Fargo, North Dakota, I knew a lady who ran a vending stand that sold sandwiches and other foods. She was totally blind, and her stand was located in the federal building not too far from my apartment. When I wasn't working, I often went to her stand for lunch. Although people were pretty good about telling her what they were buying before she rang up the items, I realized it would have been relatively easy to select a sandwich and a beverage, sit down at a table and eat, then walk out without giving it another thought. For some reason though, I never broached the subject with her.


Please leave me a comment on this blog. All reasonable comments will be published.