Blind mechanic sees obstacles as opportunities - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Blind mechanic sees obstacles as opportunities

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CHARLOTTE, Vt. -

It is the kind of commute to work a lot of people dream of. The steps that led Edsel Hammond through the door started naturally enough.

"I grew up with my father who was a body man, my grandfather was a mechanic and owned his own gas station in Shelburne," he said.

And with a name like Edsel, becoming a mechanic seemed like destiny.

Edsel Hammond: My parents had a 1958 Edsel that I was named after.

Reporter Julie Kelley: Isn't it one of the worst cars ever?

Edsel Hammond: It depends on who you talk to.

He laughs easily, and after more than two decades working on cars, knows his way around a shop.

"When I tell people, 'Listen, you should really get to know my blind mechanic.' They're like, 'Your what?'" Brian Therrien said.

"If I look right at you I don't see anything," Edsel explained. "I have what they call central scotomas, where I can't see anything. If I look to the side a little bit I can see kind of a blurred, like an old grainy television and some of your outline, but I don't see any details."

In the world of fixing cars, the details are everything. Edsel knows; when he first started in this business he could see.

He is more systematic about things these days and uses touch to tell his tools apart and work on cars. He lost his eyesight to a rare degenerative disease in his mid-20s.

"I woke up one morning and the eye that had the spot in it was completely black. I couldn't see anything out of it. And then the other eye was starting to have issues and that was very scary," Edsel said.

He was 24 and had two young sons. Today, at 45, he uses a closed captioning TV to identify tools and to read customers receipts. Fifteen years ago, family and friends helped him build the garage next to his house in Charlotte. A small Edsel Sales and Service sign is all the advertising he does.

"When I have new customers I always tell them that I'm visually impaired in case they hadn't heard. Just to let them know in case they had issues with it," he said. "So far nobody has had any issues with it!"

Brian Therrien has known Edsel since elementary school. He hesitates when we asked if he would recommend Edsel to other people.

"I don't want too many other people to know about him; he's like a little gem. If he gets busy then he's going to raise his rates," Therrien said with a laugh.

"Life's short. You have to have fun with life and you just have to get through it!" Edsel said.

Which is why he hasn't completely given up driving!

Julie Kelley: You've never gone over the hill, hunh?

Edsel Hammond: Over the wall... yes, yes I have, quite a few times. Sometimes I'll just drive around the lawn and come back around.

A man who sees obstacles and doesn't let them get in the way of living a good life here in Vermont!

Edsel says he got to spend a lot more time with his two sons after he lost his eyesight because he could no longer work at the dealership. He says his boys helped out a lot around the house and shop. Today, both of them have followed in their father's footsteps and are mechanics.

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