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第4册 - Unit 3, Section C - A Hard Job to Come By

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You could feel sorry for Alberto Torres (阿尔伯图·多里斯), who is blind. The last thing he remembers seeing was his daughter being born 13 years ago. Then the world went blank; he can only imagine what his only child looks like now, as a teenaged honor student.

Total darkness came as a result of a swelling of the nerve leading to his eye - a condition that was unrelated to the eye disease that had limited his vision since birth. 'I went to sleep and woke up with nothing,' he said.

Bad luck is no stranger to this warm and thoughtful 37-year-old man. His mother died of cancer when he was 4, and Mr. Torres's father, who was often ill, had to give him up to the care of the state when he was 11. He later worked for 19 years in a workshop assembling brooms and other household goods, deathly boring work.

Earlier this month, Alberto Torres's wife, who had just been laid off from her job, had to have a breast removed due to cancer and now faces a year of radiation treatments. Things seemed always to go from almost incredibly bad to worse. Even Mr. Torres's good luck has a dark side: Five years ago, his beloved guide dog pulled him out of the path of a truck. Mr. Torres was not hurt. The dog was killed.

But know this and know it well: Mr. Torres does not feel sorry for himself. 'These are just little bumps you have to go over in your life,' he said.

At 5 A.M. on a recent morning, we caught up with Mr. Torres at a subway stop in Brooklyn, New York, near where he lives in a third-floor apartment (without an elevator). He had been up since 3 A.M., feeding his new dog, making coffee, getting ready. 'When you're blind, it takes a little longer to do things,' he said.

Mr. Torres was beginning the complicated two-hour trip to his job developing film in the X-ray department of the emergency room of the Bronx Municipal (市立的) Hospital Center. He would take the G train to Queens Plaza (广场) station where he would walk up a set of stairs and down another to the R train, heading towards Manhattan. He would then ride the R train to 59th Street where he would walk upstairs to switch to the Number 6 train.

At one point along the journey, he might chat with a stranger. At another, someone would pat his dog, calling him by name. People offered assistance, even seats.

At 125th Street, Mr. Torres would transfer to the Number 4 train by crossing the platform. At 149th Street, he would descend to the Number 2. He would take that to East 180th Street where he nearly always has a long wait for his final train, to Pelham Parkway (帕尔汉大道). Then he and his dog would walk 20 minutes to the hospital.

'They shouldn't make any special provisions for me,' Mr. Torres said. 'It's a job, and I should be on time.'

It was a hard job to come by. Before he got the job, Mr. Torres was determined to escape the workshop run by the Lighthouse (灯塔), an organization dedicated to help people who can't see, and to try to make it on his own. He wanted a job developing X-ray film, something that everyone must do in the dark. The Lighthouse called many hospitals, with no result, even though they offered to pay his first three months' salary and provide training.

The Lighthouse people would have much preferred for him to find a job closer to his home. But they believed he could handle the long trip, as well as the work. 'Our philosophy here is that blind people can do just about anything except drive buses,' said a Lighthouse staff member who tries to help place blind people in jobs.

And that, as it turned out, was also the thinking about disabled (残疾的) people at the Bronx hospital. 'We find what a person can do rather than what he can't do,' said the hospital's associate executive director.

'The point is that it works,' said the hospital's executive director.

One day a while ago marked the first anniversary of Mr. Torres's hiring. He developed 150 or so X-rays, his usual output, to celebrate. The cards with names and other data were folded on the upper right-hand corner so he can photograph them right-side-up. That is the only concession to his blindness.

Mr. Torres works by himself in a small, dark room that smells of chemicals. He cannot wear gloves, because he needs to feel. It is exacting work, and, since this is an emergency room, lives can be at stake. His immediate supervisor says he trusts him 100 percent.

Mr. Torres makes $20,000 a year. He could be pocketing more than $12,000 from pension payments. But his motivation goes beyond money. 'If I start feeling like a victim, that makes me bitter,' he said. And why be bitter? That makes you go into a hole and stay there.'

'I'm not doing anything out of the ordinary,' insisted Mr. Torres as he quickly completed the task.

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