- Disabilities & the Disabled
Tale from the Blind Side
Parking a shopping cart is simple
Going to the Hardware Store
Spring hit this part of California last week. We had had eighty degrees on Monday, then snow on Friday. So that is Spring in my book! The weather also brought out the gardener in my wife. Sunday dawned bright and sunny so a trip to the hardware store to buy plants for the garden was on the to do list.
I took my place behind the shopping cart. Yes, I know I am blind so it does make things difficult, but the cart comforts me. People avoid a shopping cart, they say excuse me as they pass. With the cart handle in my hands I can feel normal again. I don't look any different from any other shopper. I can be free for a moment. Well as free as I can be, because I can't see what is on the shelves. Am I in plumbing or am I in lighting? I reach a hand to the shelf in front of me.Oooops! No! This is hardware and nails!
I follow the shadow that is my wife, from department to department and out into the garden center. The scent of marigolds fills the air. I used to love their bright, glowing golden flowers. They always marked summer for me in England. This weekend however they do not glow anymore, they are a dull orange-brown blurr. My heart sank a little. I wanted so much to see them.
The cart is quickly filled with a variety of plants peppers, squashes, tomatoes and an assortment of flowers. It has always been exciting to buy new plants in the Spring. It gives one hope for a Summer and Fall of plenty. The delicious thought of fresh picked tomato sandwiches in a few weeks. Maybe carving a home grown pumpkin for Halloween.
All the World's a Parking Lot
We make our way through the checkout. The assistant and my wife chat about the plants and the plans for our garden. I always feel awkward at checkouts. They are narrow and I cannot always tell how much room I have. Eyesight varies from day to day or hour by hour, even in a healthy person. One doesn't notice it much when one can see. For me there is a realization from time to time that one day is a little better than another. Then there are days when things are not so good.
We leave the store, me still clutching the comfort of the shopping cart and we make our way to the car. Unload the plants into the trunk carefully. When the cart is empty my wife pushes it back against me.
"They go by the tree."
The message is clear I am to park the cart in the cart bay. I turn, shapes move in and out of view, car tires on the tarmac parking lot, I walk slowly feeling the cart shake and rattle over the rough ground. I walk, the parked cars grow fewer. I slowly turn, and walk. A distant voice calls my name, followed by instructions.
"Too Far. Comeback!"
I head towards the voice. Now and again I stop to listen for the call again. I walk on always to the sound of the voice. My whole world is this parking lot and I want to get out of it. Slowly cars begin to appear around me again. between two of them is a gap. It is a shopping cart bay. I give up the cart which had been my comfort, now I must take out my cane again and return to reality. My wife's voice is closer now as I tap my way around the parked cars.
"You just kept on walking." She laughed. "Just right on up the parking lot."
A Gap in Understanding
I let down my guard about showing how upset I was. Her laughing seemed cruel at that moment.
"Well I don't think you know how little I see." I snapped..
"You do fine at home, you use the computer, you work." She replied.
It does seem a vast gulf. But yes I do. I do work on the computer, I did judt complete classes, I do have a day job. But still it seems because I do those things it limits the understanding of even the person who I think should understand the most.
At home all is familiar, I have tools that help me work, programs that help me read. My own mental maps that put me in a space that I know. Out there in that parking lot, there were non of those tools, no mental maps, just a shopping cart and a distant voice for a comfort and a guide.
Can we ever bridge the gap between one persons experience and anothers understanding? I am not sure.But I hope in sharing some things we can at least narroe the gap a little.
If you should ever see me wandering through a store parking lot near you, pushing my shopping cart. Please point me in the right direction. Thanks!
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