It was once said that the best laid plans often do not survive first contact with the enemy. Yesterday was, for myself and my coworkers, an excellent example of this concept in the real world.

On my lunch break, I placed a 6:00 PM timed cab order to leave work. My plans were to pick up some dinner on the way to my Mayor’s Commission on Disability Concerns meeting, where I am a commissioner. As I am an advocate for greater accessibility, increased transportation options and improving social attitudes toward the blind in my community and in society as a whole, participation in this commission is extremely important to me. The commission can be an excellent vehicle for positive change at the local level.

Sadly, things just didn’t work out quite as planned. At approximately 5:40, I began preparing to leave the office. That included determining who would be answering the phones for one of our customers between 6:00 and 9:00 PM. The engineer covering this on Monday was not present. My investigation determined that we had been asleep at the switch on this matter. There was no one available to cover this three hour block of time. Leaving the phones unanswered is never an option. Availability is a critical element of our service for which our customers pay. We apparently assumed the same engineer who handled our phones on Monday would be doing so on Tuesday evening, without double checking the correctness of that assumption. We also did not devise a backup plan in case that engineer was ill or otherwise could not come to work on any particular day.

6:00 PM came and went. The cab driver showed up on time. He was nice enough to wait about 10 minutes while I worked with the project’s team lead to devise a solution to the coverage issue. Determining that I would need to wait for the arrival of the project lead, I let the cab driver go. I was relieved at 6:35 and a cab was, very fortunately, able to pick me up at 6:45. I was five minutes late to the commission meeting; the chairman and my fellow commissioners were waiting for me before getting started! I find it very embarrassing to be late to a meeting of this nature. Things could have been worse. The first cab driver could have compelled me to pay for that ten minutes of waiting. I had to wait two and a half extra hours before eating dinner. I could have arrived to the meeting even later.

Despite blindness and the artificial accessibility barriers that limit my ability to work with many of our customers, there is a reason my employer keeps me around! It has to do with my character. I am accountable, dedicated and professional. I will step up to the plate when others will not. These traits can set us apart in a positive way. Let’s make sure we’re always putting our best feet forward!