Another installment from my bitchy essay about blindness. It should be noted that this incident I’m describing, and the writing about the incident, took place before I took organic chemistry and discovered that it was my academic subject soulmate.
It affects everything. As a blind person, you quickly learn all the coded ways that potential employers dress up, “I won’t hire you because you’re blind,” or the coded way potential dates dress up, “I don’t want to go out with you because you’re blind.” It often doesn’t matter how well you present yourself, how positive and open you are about discussing your blindness and showing that you do and feel and are the same things as other humans. There are still countless ways that people deny your full human dignity.
A few months ago, a similar thing happened to me. I was out at an event with some friends, including a guy I had a met few times, had lots of great talks with, and who was, that evening, flirting with me. To some extent he knew me, knew about my blindness, had seen me at several different events and get-togethers before this. That night, our group took a bathroom break and the guy asked me, “Do you need help in there?”
The crazy part? This was not a total anomaly. It’s happened before this particular instance. And will probably happen since.
A few months ago, I was talking to a blind friend and mentor. She’s a practicing naturopath who teaches seminars for other naturopaths about thyroid conditions, depression and biochemistry. I asked her if she ever got sick of people making a big deal about how amazing she is to have gotten where she is while being totally blind. She said no. She said it was a big challenge, a career that’s challenging even for people who are fully sighted, and she had to work hard for it. “What does get to me,” she said, “is when people make a huge deal about me doing things like climbing a flight of stairs without falling. I’ve been doing stairs my whole life.”