Wednesday, July 01, 2009

New Glasses: Two Weeks

OK, you should have seen it.

I left work a bit early because Joe had to go get his eyes tested and had been told that he wouldn't be able to drive for several hours after the dreaded drops had been dropped. The optomitrist is in an area that is normally accessible but the road in front of the accessible entrance has been torn up so I was unable to go with him. Instead we went along the underground mall as far as the stairs and I pulled into a little tea shop there to wait.

The shop is very accomodating and moved tables around so I could sit and sip my Egyptian Cammomile tea (you haven't lived) while reading my book, stopping occasionally to watch people stream by. I got a call about forty-five minutes in and Joe was saying that he was on his way and for me to wait for him by the stairs. He stumbled out saying that his eyes were still sensitive to light and he just wanted to get home.

Once outside the light was way too bright so he just took the handles behind me and asked me to drive slowly. He then closed his eyes and I lead him home, telling him when we were going over rough terrain. Several people noted me leading Joe along the street in a rather odd manner.

It was funny because it was like they didn't know who to pity more, the cripple who could see or the blind guy who could walk. I fought smirking as I knew their minds were going through contortions as they worked through thier feelings regarding our perceived disabilities contrasted with our obvious independance.

One person, at a light with us, couldn't stop himself. He muttered, 'It makes you think, it really makes you think.'

You know the irony is ... I wish it did.


Andrea S. said...

I bet half of those people were thinking to themselves, "Where's their carer, then?" *sigh*

I once participated in a wonderful leadership training program (organized by Mobility International USA for women with different types of disabilities from developing countries around the world. We were all women, we all had different disabilities. Pretty much all of us were the only woman from whatever country we represented (except for Colombia and Thailand which each were represented by two women) and I was the only participant from a developed country.

And, an enduring MIUSA custom is, all participants in their training programs are expected to help each other out. So if a blind person needed guiding or a wheelchair user needed pushing, we would help each other with that. I saw on several occasions a blind woman pushing a sighted wheelchair user, I guess cooperating in the way you and Joe did.

One time during the program, a blind woman and I navigated our way together at night toward a camp fire. I had no clue where the fire was, but the blind woman I was with could guess the general direction because she could hear the sounds of people laughing and singing. So I guided her to help ensure she didn't trip over any obstacles or whatever (though it was dark, so my visual advantage was marginal at the time, LOL!) And meanwhile she would keep pointing out the direction the sound was coming from.

People who seem fazed at the idea of people with disabilities, *gasp*, actually being able to help *each other* are, for the most part, people who get fazed by the whole idea that people with disabilities are actually capable of *helping*, full stop. These are probably the same people who have trouble grasping that people with disabilities not only could help each other but could also help non-disabled people as well. And furthermore, these are probably some of the same people who, as employers, quietly fail to hire a worker with disabilities, even someone who clearly has the qualifications in spades, because if they can't see how a person with disabilities can help, then they also can't see how they can help their office or business do better at its work.

I, too, wish it really did make them stop and think.

Belinda said...

Ha ha ha! You could have said, "We're on the run!:)

CJ said...

Tell Joe, I refuse the eye drops.

wendy said...

Great story..and Belinda's comment made LOL for real.

On an unrelated topic, Dave, I'm really excited that I'm enrolled for your upcoming Sex, Sexuality and Sex Education course in Barrie. I can hardly wait!

Kristine said...

I knew a guy in college who used a wheelchair, and ended up getting married to a blind girl. Everybody on campus came to recognize the two of them and their dog walking around together. :)

Same campus, one of my best friends was a little person. She'd ride around on the back of my wheelchair. We enjoyed pretending we were baffled at, "What's everybody staring at?" And then we'd roll our eyes and wonder how many people spent the rest of their day telling heartwarming stories about our unlikely friendship. :)

Actually, I do the same thing at work now, with a colleague who has a spinal cord injury. He can walk, but it takes a lot out of him, so sometimes he rides on my chair too.

(Honestly, letting people ride on the chair probably isn't one of my better ideas... but whatever. :)

Anonymous said...

lol reminds me of the time a colleague had to lead me over a road which was too icy for me to walk on my own. His chair could grip the surface safer than my feet.

Mandassassin said...

De-lurking to share a story of my own:
I live in student housing at my university, and I have two roommates (Brian and Laura); she's blind, he uses a wheelchair, and I have fibro. (Together, we are Disabled-tron!?)
We've gotten quite a few stares in our time. Laura has pushed Brian all the way across campus when his power wheels have died. We laugh because she's a better driver than he is. ;)
Sometimes I use a cane, so Laura and I get interesting looks when we're walking together with me as her sighted guide.
Brian sometimes gives me a ride back to my car with his scooter (on his lap), which clears the sidewalk right quick.

My favorite time, though, was when our friend Ann came to visit (She's blind as well.), and we all went to the cafeteria. So there I was, carrying a tray, with Laura on my arm carrying her tray and cane, Ann on her arm carrying *her* tray and cane, and Brian following behind us.
The whole cafeteria pretty much stopped in its tracks and watched until we sat down. I think a few people actually held their breath when we were getting our drinks. :)

I have to agree with you in wishing that there was something more to the "stop-and-stare" than "Whoa! What's that? Dude!"

Shan said...

A lot of people make assumptions about other people's lives.

For example, a good chunk of these commenters are assuming they know exactly what the 'abled' are thinking when they see the disabled.

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