I can only laugh when I am out and about with my independent self and encounter some of the ridiculous rituals followed by the sighted community that are utterly useless to someone like me. My so called ‘disability’ is highlighted when I mix in sighted circles, trying to fit in like a blind square. This list is by no means complete; it is just the things that have sprung to mind.
When in a group meeting or seminar, I am accosted by a thoughtful person pinning a NAME TAG to my lapel to be just like everyone else in the room. I think they like to call this equality. Ok, so you have my name plastered onto my jacket – that’s helpful in case I forget who I am…any Braille labels so I can see and greet too?
A particular amusement is when I take a seat in a cafe and am asked, “So what would you like?” It is often accompanied with a big sigh as the person has just opened the menu and is overwhelmed with the thought of reading out the entire list. To be quite frank, how the heck do I know what is on offer? To make their life easier, I sometimes reply “Raisen toast will do” – again!
Being mistress of our home while everything is being incorporated into a digital world makes one become even more canny and resourceful in order to keep up with all the new technology: Tv, radio, microwave, washing machine…call me old fashioned, but give me big buttons and chunky knobs one can turn clockwise any day. You try operating gadgets with random pokes of tiny hard-to-find buttons while you wear a blindfold and see how masterful you feel?
And the fad for touch screens, now this sounds hopeful? Forget it! iphones, ipods & ipads - is that an ‘i’ for an ‘eye’? - don’t get me started!
I love the expression “Oh, just go on line and you’ll find everything there.” Excuse me, what am I? A tightrope walker or something? Well, participating in sighted rituals can be a bit like walking the fine line between sanity and complete madness.
Facebook. Now this is an interesting social phenomenon. Obviously created for an exclusive bunch – those with eyesight! So, I am thinking of creating a new site (pardon the pun) where you can join me as a friend on my blindfold page and leave a message with my Guide Dog.
Everything was going so well, until I realised the train driver on this particular journey had kindly decided to give the audio-gal another rostered day off. How hard can it be to remember to push the button for the station announcement and drive at the same time – whoops, multi-tasking, that’s right, some folk have not mastered this skill. Glad I brought my little round rosary beads today to count the stations …
Not only do sighted people pretend they cannot see each other on a crowded tram, they hide the buzzers. Each tram has a different interior design so I never know where to find the buzzer in order to get off at the right stop. I can ask the driver but it’s the multi-tasking thing again. Zip…um, wasn’t that my stop? Thanks buddy, just let me off at the next one.
Public toilets – would be a relief, if I could find them! But the odds are good = two chances in three - ladies, gents or disabled: eeny, meeny, miney, mo! If I take long enough to decide, a kind stranger will often come to the rescue to show me the way to the right door – thank you (but they never hang around long enough to help me find the way out!).
In the deli or the Bank, the cry is the same, “Take a ticket, please.” Would love to – if I knew where they were, dear. And you think just holding a ticket gives me confidence to behave like a ‘normal’ person? Fretting fingers fumble – the number mysteriously appears and is placed into my waiting hand. That’s kind – before you go, um, just a minor detail: what number am I holding anyway?
Maestro, please play the final trumpet fan-fair – dum-de-dar…the numero uno most ridiculous sighted ritual (for the blind), trumpets now reaching a deafening crescendo…DUM-DER-DUM-DER-DA-DER-DUMB – is finding oneself having to navigate through a myriad of steel poles, chains, barriers and merchandise boxes supposedly helpful in herding me to the front of a QUEUE! The most embarrassing place to stray off the guided path is in the open area of the Bank, because you know some smug security guard is watching your comedy capers on their overhead cameras – yep, just wave and smile, I’ll find your silly queue one of these days!
© Maribel Steel 2012