When you are visually impaired, one of the big things that happens is you consistantly run into things. It can be a variety of things and often causes me to walk a lot slower than those I am with. But, over the last 15 years or so, there have been a few things I have consistently run into that drive me crazy. It seems like they are everywhere. And, they all bring a certain challenge when running into them.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am not extremely clumsy. I do a pretty good job of avoiding things, especially when I have my cane or I am with someone else. But, for whatever reason, the following three items seem to keep jumping out in front of me. Sure, there are more than three, but I figured I would narrow it down for brevity's sake.
1. The Wet Floor Sign
Ah, the wet floor sign. If visually impaired people had an arch enemy, it would be this guy. They are small, short and can appear out of nowhere. They seem to be just out of my field of vision and always in the way. The real problem with these is the loud noise they make as they crash into the floor. Even worse is when you try to catch it and make an even bigger scene. Sometimes you miss and it simply drops on the floor anyway. Sometimes you reach and end up smacking it across the restaurant. No matter what happens, it is pretty embarrassing.
2. Concrete Poles
These come in all shapes and sizes. But, mostly I'm thinking of those ones that are in front of stares to block people from driving onto the sidewalk. They are usually paintied yellow and can be anywhere from waist to chest height. The real issue here is pain. Physical pain. I have run full force into these quite a few times and it always hurts. And, inevitably, there is that awkward moment where you have to stop, catch yourself and move forward as you know people are staring. Sometimes the person I am with will warn me to walk around. But, sometimes that warning is just slightly too late. Or, and this can be worse, the warning is just in time and I stop, nearly killing myself to avoid running into it and almost falling down. Yeah, these poles are not my friend.
Ok, so this one isn't actually a “thing” per say. But, many times I run into people while walking. Usually its not too bad. Just a brush on the shoulder or something unoffensive like that. But, there have been those few times of turning around to knock into someone. There is that awkward moment where you both apologize and feel odd feelings. However, I must say that the best outcome of this is when I accidentally wack a stranger in the ankle while using my cane. There is that moment where they whip around to give me a piece of their mind, notice my white cane and then usually go on their way defeated. It is pretty funny, if I do say so myself.
What's the Big Deal?
Now, why is it so hard to run into things? Well, a few reasons. First, it is embarrassing. I understand that I have a reason and shouldn't be embarrassed. But, come one. When a wet floor sign smacks the floor in sow motion, you know it is embarrassing. Secondly, it is a reminder that you can't see. Again, I know I can't see. I get it. But, I can be going along having a perfectly fine day and then smack into a concrete pole. This brings that rush of emotions back up and I am reminded that there is something wrong with me. I have learned to move forward with it, but there is still a few moments afterwards where I struggle with sadness. Much less now, but it is still there. Finally, and this one is a “duh” kind of thing, but it can hurt. Concrete is unforgiving. Getting hit in the chest with a pole that has absolutely no give can leave a mark. Combine all those together and you get a recipe for emotional, mental and physical stress. All from running into someone or something.
Now, it's not all doom and gloom. You have to laugh at these tings in the end. One way to do this is by doing what my family did while at Disney World. Needless to say there are a lot of things to run into there. So, my wife and kids would randomly yell “Pole!” while walking around. It got to be a fun game of who could spot the pole first and took away the sting of embarrassment. I still ran into a few things here and there, but we had a good time laughing while my kids yelled “Pole!” at awkward times where there was clearly no pole.
All in all, running into to things is inevitable as a VIP. But, remembering that it isn't as bad as it is in your head is important to remember. Take your hits, breathe deep and move forward.
question: Have you ever run into anything? What happened? Share in the comments below or share on Facebook!