Revised June 2010

Would you like some cheese?

By

Leonard A. McHugh

Although this event happened prior to me becoming a guide dog user, it could easily happen today with Toga, my Freedom Guide Dog. With Toga, more often than not a waitress, waiter, wine stewart or server has no idea that there is a dog under the table. And when leaving, I find it to be a real complement when they say "oh! I had no idea that there was a dog under the table".

When I was still working for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, a few co-workers and I were sent to Hartford Connecticut to take an IBM computer course. After one of the classes I asked the instructor if he would recommend a good place to eat.

He told us that Hartford is really known for its great Italian cuisine and then recommended a few very good Italian restaurants. One co-worker and I decided to try the instructor's favorite place. A restaurant called The Hot Tamale.

At the time I was a very competent cane traveler and always used a folding cane. When we arrived at the restaurant we were greeted with a warm welcome by a host. The host obviously knew I was blind but never shared that information with anyone else. After he seated us, he then explained that someone would be by to take our order.

As I said, I always used a folding cane. I took my cane, folded it and placed it under the table.

Soon the waiter came by to take our order. I do believe that he also figured out that I was blind, but also did not tell anyone else. Finally, a different person came by to serve our food. This man had absolutely no idea that I could not see. After he placed the food onto the table, he asked, "Would you like some cheese?" Of course I said "Yes, please."

I had no idea that he had a block of cheese and a small greater in his hands. By the way, did you know that grating cheese makes no noise? Anyway, I could tell that he was still standing by the table. I had no idea that he was grating cheese onto my food. Within a few seconds he started looking back and forth between my meal and me. Obviously, he wanted me to tell him when to stop. My co-worker friend was almost crying trying to hold back the laughter. Finally he was able to speak and said, "I think that is enough."

I guess that that server thought, "Boy, this guy really likes cheese!"

I often wonder how much cheese I would have had, if it were not for my co-worker speaking up?!

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