by Dan Spoone
It’s fall free-for-all this month, and I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my favorite pet peeves when dealing with help from our sighted community neighbors, friends and family members. Do you remember David Letterman’s Top 10? Here’s my Top 10 peeves. I’m sure you all will be able to relate to several of them.
10. I Must Be Invisible – How many times have you walked up to a business counter with a sighted friend or family member for service? The clerk speaks to your friend like you are not even there. I feel invisible! How can they not see me? I ask a question and they respond directly to my friend.
9. Yard Noise – It’s a pandemic. Every neighbor has a high-powered lawn mower, a weed whacker and a leaf blower. Sometimes on my morning walks, the yard noise is so loud that I can’t hear the cars or other walkers on the sidewalk. I love a well-manicured yard, but these yard toys need mufflers.
8. Front Door Surprise – UPS and FedEx do an outstanding job of delivering packages from our favorite online shops. However, occasionally there is an unwelcome surprise directly at our front door. Sometimes that first step can be a doozy. Please leave our packages at either the right or left side of the front door. Thanks!
7. Wet Floor Signs – I’m a magnet for all wet floor signs. We have lots of rain in Florida, and this means lots of wet floor signs. Man, do they make a loud noise when you send those suckers flying! I believe that I could be a future Olympian if we could make wet floor sign kicking an official Olympic sport. Eric and Clark, could you please bring this up when you talk to the USOPC?
6. Cross Parking – Leslie and I love to go for walks in our neighborhood. We have excellent sidewalks, and our neighbors are really good at trimming the tree limbs and bushes. It’s those pesky service vehicles and moving vans that will get you in trouble. One fine Saturday morning, I was walking full steam ahead, with Leslie a few steps behind. The next thing I knew, I was boomeranging past Leslie in the opposite direction. My cane easily fit under the moving van across the sidewalk, and I hit that side panel midstride. It launched me in reverse before I knew what hit me. Leslie thought I was doing the Michael Jackson moonwalk. Friendly neighbors, please don’t park your vehicles across the sidewalks. Thank you!
5. Door Dash and Crash – I know that you just want to be helpful. I love the spirit of kindness. However, please refrain from holding the door for me when I’m entering my favorite store or restaurant. It’s so much easier for me if I can locate the door handle and open the door myself. It’s an accident waiting to happen when that helpful neighbor insists on holding the door open for me. I will most likely hit them, the edge of the door or the door jamb. It’s a complete mess. It’s a door crash. Please feel free to be rude and let me find the door handle by myself. Thank you for your lack of kindness. We promise it’s OK. Really!
4. You’re So Amazing – Here’s a little secret for all of our sighted neighbors. We are really not that amazing. We’re just trying to live our lives to the best of our abilities. Leslie and I were deplaning from a trip last May to see her family in Las Vegas. It was a normal plane ride home with four hours of sitting in our seats with several trips to the bathroom and listening to our audio books. As several passengers were deplaning, they remarked to Leslie and I how “amazing” we were. Leslie leaned over to me and said, “It must have been my graceful walk to the bathroom.” Really, it’s not that amazing that we can find the facilities. However, finding that flushing handle is another story. Clark, could we advocate for a flushing handle standard? Those suckers can be hard to find in close quarters.
3. Unsolicited Help and Advice – Have you ever had a friend or family member enter your home and feel it’s necessary to share with you unsolicited observations on the appearance of your home? Did you know there are fingerprints on your sliding glass door? I noticed some loose dirt near your front door. Would you like me to sweep it up for you? Leslie had a friend open our microwave oven and remark that there were some crumbs inside. Leslie told her to feel free to give it a good cleaning, if it was bothering her. I’m not sure if anyone would do this in a sighted person’s home. It’s all done in the spirit of kindness and a desire to help, but it’s very annoying. We don’t want to make anyone feel bad for trying to help, but it’s really weird. Has this ever happened to you?
2. Ride Swapping – Your friend or family member offers to give you a ride to a doctor’s appointment or help you run an errand. You are looking out the front door listening for your ride to arrive. A car pulls into the driveway and it’s not your friend. It’s her next-door neighbor. Jane had something come up, so she asked me to give you a ride to the store. Hop in. Why did Jane think it was OK to ask someone else to give me a ride to the store? I would have made other arrangements if Jane had let me know that she was not available. Don’t pass me off like I’m a package for delivery. I know that Jane was only trying to be kind, but this one really bothers me. I feel like I have lost complete control. Please, no ride swapping!
1. Strange Conversation – During my time in management, I have had several strange conversations with my sighted co-workers, but this one really surprised me. One day Marty entered my office to lament his troubles of the day. Marty’s truck had broken down that morning and he was very perplexed about his lack of transportation. His wife had to give him a ride to work. He was unable to go out to lunch. He wasn’t sure how he was going to get home from work, since his wife had the car at her job. Their son needed to get to baseball practice, and he needed some groceries from the store. He was really missing his truck. Finally, he asked, “Have you had a day like this lately?” “Marty,” I said, “I’m the blind guy. This is my normal day.” We both laughed. It made me feel good that Marty had been working with me for so long that he forgot that I was blind. Thanks, Marty; so sad on not having a car for one whole day!
Please feel free to share your favorite stories on the trials and funny stories of dealing with your blindness and your neighbors. Happy Thanksgiving!