Future Reflections Special Issue, Vol. 14 No. 2
by Daryel White
[PICTURE] Daryel at work on a truck.
Reprinted from Making Hay an NFB Kernel Book
What jobs can blind people do? Just about anything. Sure, blind people can't drive trucks, but who says they can't learn to fix them? Daryel White does. Daryel White, vice president of the St. Louis County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri is a first-rate employee at Marty's Body Works. Daryel is also blind. A few years ago he was asked to speak at the National Convention of the Federation and talk about his job. Daryel talked about losing his sight and his confidence, and how he regained that confidence along with the skills of blindness as a student at the Federation's training center for the blind in Colorado. With that new-found confidence and the alternative techniques of blindness, Daryel found the job he wanted. But it wasn't easy. He had proved to his employer that he could do the job, but what about the customers? Here is what Daryel had to say about this experience:
Eventually I got lucky with Marty's Body Works, which is in St. Louis, Missouri. I do auto repair, paint cars, and put fenders and doors on. I even do welding. Now I want to tell you a little story. When I came back from the Colorado Center for the Blind, my confidence level was taller than the highest building that was ever built, so my first job with the public's eye on me was a hard one. I went to work for Marty's Body Works two weeks after I got back from Denver, Colorado. There's a man named Charlie Collins who owns a big diesel shop in St. Louis. He wrecked his brand new pick-up truck in a front end collision. He had it towed to Marty's. He looked at Marty and he looked at me. Then he said, "I do not, do not want that blind man to work on my truck!" Marty looked at me and kind of smiled, and Charlie went on home.
Then Marty said, "Daryel, you're going to do that job." So I brought the truck in and did the job. I put it all together and painted it. I mean, I did a superb job. There was nothing wrong with that truck when I got done.
When Charlie came back to pick it up, Marty told him, "Charlie, I don't want you to pay for that job right now. I know how you are; I've done work for you before. You take the truck back to your shop. I want you to check it over just as close as you can for fender and hood gaps." (These gaps are the distance between the pieces of the car you build or rebuild.) He said, "I want you to bring it back tomorrow and tell me if you find anything wrong." So Charlie took it to his shop, and he brought it back the next day. He said, "Marty, that's the most fantastic job I've ever seen!"
Marty looked at him, and he looked at me. Then he told Charlie right there, "That is what a blind man can do." Charlie owns two eighteen-wheelers over the road. About two weeks later he wrecked one of his eighteen-wheelers. He brought it back to Marty's, and do you know what his first words were? "Let that blind man work on my truck."
I want everyone to know one thing: I thank you for the support of the NFB, of all you people who are listening to me and holding this organization together. People like Dr. Jernigan, President Maurer, Diane McGeorge, and Homer Page are the ones that really have made me the person I am today.