Tuesday, 18 June 2013

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CNIB SMOKE STANDS?

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.