Benjamin did not want to go out. He hated to since he lost his eyesight while serving in Afghanistan, but his friends would visit him and call him often to encourage him. They even gave him a guide dog named Cooper.
Benjamin must admit that the dog has made all the difference. He regained some of his independence and went out to do simple tasks such as shopping or walking in the park.
It was nice to be able to do things without depending on others, but now he was going to do something he hadn’t done in a while: go to a concert.
Benjamin’s friend Natalie was singing in a special recital at the local concert hall, which was a great opportunity for her. It was an audition and important people would be there to see her.
Benjamin didn’t want to go, but Natalie wanted him there, so he put on his one nice suit, picked up Cooper and left.
Benjamin arrived at the concert hall a little late, walking with a nervous step. He didn’t want to make a fuss, so he decided to sit with his dog in the closest row he could feel that wasn’t very crowded. He knew that at least two people were sitting in the same row.
One of them was a woman who started screaming when she saw Cooper.
“Oh, my God! Who brings a dog to a concert? Marty, do something!”, Benjamin heard the woman complain.
He kept his cool. Perhaps she hadn’t noticed his really dark glasses and didn’t understand why he needed a dog.
“Ada, we can’t do this. He’s blind. This is his service dog,” her companion replied, saddened.
“I don’t care! I could have allergies!”
“You don’t have allergies to dogs, Ada,” the man said, and Benjamin could almost feel the man’s eyes rolling.
“I might have some now. We’re in a tight space here. I think… I think my nose is getting clogged. Do something!” the woman continues to complain, and Benjamin finds it funny at the time. He never imagined he would be in a situation like this.
In today’s world, people were more sensitive and tried to be politically correct. But this woman had no shame at all. It was hilarious to him, so he smiled the whole time before the show started.
Finally, Natalie took the stage and began to sing. She was brilliant, and even though Benjamin couldn’t see her, he knew she was beautiful. He regretted not sitting next to their friends, who he knew were also watching.
Meanwhile, the woman sitting next to him, Ada, continued to complain about Cooper throughout the show. From her demeanor, she looked like an arrogant rich woman. Someone else even shut her up, and she became even angrier.
“I’ll shut up when that ugly mutt is escorted out of here!” she pretended to whisper.
Finally, Benjamin was about to lose his temper. She knew he was blind and needed the dog. She had to know she was acting like a crazy person, and worst of all, she was interrupting his friend’s concert.
“Maybe, I should leave,” he thought, not wanting Natalie to hear this woman’s bickering.
Benjamin decided that he would leave as soon as Natalie finished her song. However, at the end of the song, Natalie began to address the audience.
“Thank you all. Thank you for supporting me. I would also like to thank my friends, who I love with all my heart. This next song is dedicated to a special friend, Benjamin,” Natalie said, and Benjamin could hear the emotions in her voice. “You have sacrificed so much for our country, and I only hope this next song makes you happy. Your future is bright, my friend, and we will be by your side throughout it.”
Benjamin felt the tears fall from his blind eyes, and he also felt Cooper’s head resting on his knee, comforting him as Natalie performed a beautiful song.
To Benjamin’s surprise, the woman next to him became eerily quiet the entire time, and she never complained about him for the rest of the concert. She didn’t sigh or pretend to sniffle because of fake allergies. Benjamin smiled, knowing that Natalie’s words had silenced him.
When the concert was over, Benjamin’s friends approached him. Natalie quickly came out to greet the group, and they all congratulated her. Everyone is laughing and enjoying the evening, and no one makes any special mention of Benjamin or his disability. He felt good about being out with his friends. It was the first time he had felt a sense of normalcy in years. He hopes there will be many more.
To everyone’s surprise, Ada, accompanied by her husband, approached them, and she apologized to Benjamin.
“I know you heard me. I have no excuse. I’m not used to dogs being in places like this, but I should have kept my big mouth shut,” she told him. He felt her shame.
“Don’t worry about it. Just… don’t judge others until you know what they’re going through,” Benjamin quickly replied before turning his attention back to his friends, not wanting to talk to her anymore. According to his friends, the woman left with her shoulders hunched over. He didn’t care.
Benjamin knew he would have to deal with tons of people like Ada in the future. But he would get through it. He had his confidence back. His independence was back, thanks to his dog, and his supportive friends. Nothing could stop him.