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Many People Are Blind To What Jerks They Are

, , , , | Friendly | November 16, 2020

I’m on my way to take the subway, and I see a blind young man playing the violin in the station. He’s pretty good, so I stop to listen. Every now and then, he will stop — sometimes even in the middle of a piece — and attempts to speak to his audience.

Me: “That was nice!”

Violinist: *Turning eagerly to me* “Did you like it?”

Me: “Yes, I love Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.”

Violinist: “I learned it all myself! I can’t go for lessons, so I taught myself. Did you like it?”

I realise that he’s eager for someone who will appreciate his playing, as though to reassure himself that he’s good enough despite not having taken formal lessons. I give him a few encouraging words, and he is so excited he starts talking for several minutes about how hard he’s worked and the difficulties of learning the violin when he couldn’t see.

We’re suddenly interrupted by a woman who’s been standing nearby for about half the time.

Woman: “Are you going to talk to him all day? I want to hear him playing.”

I stare at her, speechless. She stares back.

Woman: “Well, are you going to talk to him all day? Let him play. I want to hear something.”

I don’t want to say anything while the violinist can hear, but I am so mad at her attitude. The violinist declares that he will play something else and launches into another piece. The woman stands listening for the next ten minutes. After her personal concert is over, she walks off without a word to the violinist and without even giving him a single cent.

Violinist: “Is she gone?”

Me: “Yes, she is.”

Violinist: “You see? They don’t think of me as a person because I’m blind. They just want me to play music for them.” 

He was so grateful to me for stopping to just talk to him. I gave him a few dollars and stayed to listen until the nearby mall was closing and he couldn’t stay. I helped him to hold his violin and fold up the chair he was sitting on, carried them to the bus terminal, and helped him on board when the bus came. After that, whenever I saw him at the subway station, I would stop to talk to him.

This story is part of our Best Of November 2020 roundup!

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