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Tale from the Blind Side

Updated on June 15, 2014

Parking a shopping cart is simple

So How difficult can it be?
So How difficult can it be?

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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    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Hello martha, I am sorry to read that you have Retinitis Pigmentosa. That is a pretty incidious disease, I believe. My overall vision level these days is 20/1500 so not too good. That is my good eye. Thanks for the offer of help if we are in the same parking lot. The one in this story had a Starbuck's so I would buy you a coffee or something if you'd like. :)

    • profile image

      martha Kastrup 6 years ago

      I have been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and i know what you mean by good days and bad days with your eyes seem like u have more bad days than good if i see you wondering around in a parking lot I'll be sure to help you: )

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Hello Martha, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.Everything turned out ok in the end.

    • profile image

      martha Kastrup 6 years ago

      I loved your story i felt badly that you got lost in the parking lot and had to let go of your cart.keep your stories coming

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Sharyn. It is always encouraging to get such positive feedback from you.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Bret,

      Absolutely reading experiences such as yours helps at least narrow the gap. Your writing is very encouraging. Thank you for sharing!


    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Thank you Simone, yes very true. I grew up in a world which seemed to have more blind people, in my early years there were still many ex soldiers from World War One about, many blinded by gas or shell explosions. Today blind people seem much less common place and lack of familiarity I think leads to misunderstanding. Thank you for taking time to comment.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I really hope that we can bridge that gap! You're certainly helping things along by sharing your perspective, which I've really appreciated reading. So many people get nervous around blindness and have no idea how to best be of help, so it really makes a difference when someone TELLS them. At least it's made a difference for me. Thanks!