Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's the Stick For?

I walked around the corner into the car showroom yesterday. My wife and I were dropping off the car for it's latest 5,000 mile oil change and inspection.

I heard the assistant whisper quite loudly to my wife. "What's that stick for?"

Patiently she said, "He's blind."

"Can he see at all?" Asked the young assistant again.

Of course by now I am stood next to my wife and feel free to answer for myself. "I can see light and dark. That's all really."

Again the assistant asks my wife more questions. Also sharing some insights into blindness. How Blind people develop super hearing and such.

It is not the fact that the assistant asked questions that made me feel isolated. It was the fact that she asked my wife the questions. Even when I attempted to answer, it was as if I answered in my wife's voice. Any attempt by me to answer seemed to be ignored as the assistant preferred to direct her whole attention on my wife.
Having not seen the assistants behaviour with other customers, I do not know if she just preferred to deal with female customers or if it was just my blindness which affected her.

I was reminded of the old days back in England. There used to be a radio programme called "Does He Take Sugar?" The title referred to the fact that whenever in the presence of two apparently able bodied people, the obviously disabled person disappears completely. All discussion and questions are directed to the able bodied companion, rarely the disabled person.

So maybe we should bottle our invisibility and sell it to the government for military use. I believe they want to make soldiers, ships and planes invisible. Or maybe I should just be happy that I have the ability to tap, tap, tap my way around this world. Unseen and unseeing.

Does He Take Sugar? A HubPage on Interracting with the disabled.