Friday, August 16, 2013

Five Questions Asked of Me by Strangers

In the course of going blind I have been asked many questions. People mostly ask sensible questions of me as a blindman. Here are five of the most often asked questions from the sensible questions:

1. What can you see?   This is probably the most obvious question to ask of a blind person. Describing what I see however is pretty hard. How do I even start to describe my blindness too you. " A bright white light." "Shadows." "Blurred images." If you ask this one be prepared for a very short or very long answer.

2. "Are you looking for something?"  Most often question asked by children as they see me rolling my cane across the ground. One boy did tell me his grandfather had a metal detector which he swept over the ground looking for gold. So naaturally he thought that my cane was some sort of metal detector. If I hear the child I often say, "Yes. I need to look for holes in the ground with the stick." Sadly I have also heard a parent sternly rebuke the child for asking such a question, "That man is blind and doesn't want you asking stupid questions." Oh! On the contrary I welcome such wonderful and insightful questions from adults as well as children.

3. What color {s} do you see?  Most people think blind people see black and only black. I see grey mostly, a bright ligh grey that often can be painful. Otherwise I can see the black of deep shadow or blackness in the night.

4. How do you get dressed?  This one is common. I guess my dress sense was never much good, but the answer is very boring. "I go to the closet and take my clothes off the hangers." I do dress myself. My wife though does checck me for dressing disasters, miss aligned buttons, open fly, wrong socks, socks with sandals etc.

5. How do you eat? This one made me laugh the first time I was asked. I wanted to say "I open my mouth and then chew." What they meant though was how do I know where food is on a plate or table. The answer is I ask my wife or someone else to tell me relative positions of food items so on a plate, meat at nine o'clock, beans at six o'clock, potatoes at noon.

On a dining table I might just ask "Can I have the ..." or feel out for a serving spoon and ask "What is this?" my wife knows I mean the food and not to answer "a spoon."

So these are just some of the questions I have been asked by strangers over the past five years since going blind. I left out the silly questions for another day.