For a visually impaired person, life can become a series of mishaps and embarrassing moments. Sometimes there are real dangers and injuries involved. Other times, just awkward situations arise that are actually quite funny if you can find the humor in them. In the early stages of vision loss, I thought I was becoming very clumsy. Now, I try so hard to use my rehab training to move through space with style and grace. I was used to appearing as a confident and competent person, but Retinitis Pigmentosa changed that. Now I am constantly on the lookout for situations and booby traps that may trip me up and cause an “RP moment”. Here are a few highlights of my personal mishaps. I have learned that sometimes, you just gotta laugh!
Shopping is always a tricky endeavor. One time, I was looking at handbags on a display. As I fingered these beautiful purses, I spotted one that caught my attention. I moved closer to fondle it admiringly and discovered that it was attached to another shopper who was shocked and yanked it away from me. All I could do was apologize and say lamely “I am visually impaired”.
One day, my husband dropped me off at Kohl’s. I entered the store and was overwhelmed with glass, chrome, colors, and shapes. I meandered for a while and then decided to ask for help. I rounded a pillar and spotted someone. “Excuse me”, I said. The person did not respond. I repeated myself a bit louder. “Excuse me, ma’am”…and suddenly I caught a glimpse of a dog…it was my guide dog and I was talking to myself in a mirror! I looked around quickly to see if anyone noticed my “crazy woman” behavior. No one came to haul me away.
After shopping alone, my husband came to pick me up. I waited on the curb for him in the blinding sun. A reddish car pulled up and I hopped in. Then I heard an unfamiliar voice say “What are you doing??!” “Oh-oh”, I stuttered. “You are not my husband!” I awkwardly exited the stranger’s car with no explanation.
Our church service is held in the dark. My husband and I made our way to take our seats and I sat down on another man’s lap. He laughed as I yelped and popped up, causing a scene in the quiet sanctuary. I was hot with embarrassment.
I went to my son’s school one day to visit his classroom. I stopped at the office, got my name badge, and then headed down the hallway. I saw his class leave their room. So I hurried toward them, waving for my son. Suddenly I fell into a bench, face down, feet in the air! It clipped me at the knees. As I struggled to get back on my feet, my son walked by and whispered “Mom, take off your name tag.” He did not want to claim me in that moment.
Dark restaurants are difficult to navigate for the blind. My family took me out to dinner for Mother’s Day. My children were all teenagers at the time. They never got used to the painful, public guffaws of their blind mother. We entered our favorite restaurant and were escorted to a table. I thought I saw a booth and went to seat myself and scoot around. But alas, there was no bench and I crashed to the floor on my bum. With my dress tangled around my waist and my arms and legs flailing, I looked like a beetle on its back. I laughed so hard I could not get up! My children were all mortified and asked if we could leave the restaurant. We stayed.
My son was poised to run the “Tot Trot”. Like all the other eager mothers, I stood at the starting line to help him get off and cheer for him. After they called “On your marks-get set-go!” all the children started running. My eyes were on my son and suddenly I had knocked down several small competitors like bowling pins. I tried to help them up as they cried and their mothers shot me icy looks. I slithered away. My son won the trophy and I am sure the other parents thought it was a low-down tactic to ensure the win.
We all have these “blind moments”. They teach us to lighten up and accept that things are going to happen. Most of the time, laughter soothes the sting and angst. It is good medicine and it feels good to laugh. Life just happens and sometimes it can be very funny. What is one of your funniest blind moments?