I had the oddest encounter with a random person today. It was truly wonderful, but I wish it wasn’t something that stood out enough to shock me.
I had set up an appointment to have my phone and Internet changed from copper to fiberoptic wiring. I didn’t really want to switch over, but when there are five customers or less on copper wiring in a given area, the phone company retires the copper wires and forces the stick-in-the-mud customers into the New Millennium. I had no reason for not switching except that I’m used to what I’m used to. Fiberoptic will be faster and cost me less money.
But I digress. The two young men who came to my door were very polite. The younger one was shy and mostly did the work on the outside of my house. But the older of the two came inside and *gasp* interacted with me as if I were a real human being. He spoke to me adult to adult, told me exactly what he was doing without dumbing down his language, cracked jokes, and didn’t ask me the usual questions about how I’d gone blind or how I dressed myself, navigated around the house, and so on and so forth.
Finally, I had to speak my mind. “You really know how to interact with someone who has a disability. Have you been around a blind person before?”
After an awkward pause, he asked, “Doesn’t everybody know how to interact with blind people? I mean, there’s nothing different about a blind person than there is about anyone else.”
I couldn’t help myself. I busted out laughing. “Man, you have no idea! Most people lose their minds!”
“I’m serious as a heart attack.”
“One of my grandparents was deaf, and another was blind. I grew up with it.”
“Then it’s normal for you.” I shook my head. “But for most of the world, well, half of them think it’s contagious. The rest of them treat us like kids or burdens, or ignore us completely, or get nasty with us.”
I hope someday the reaction of the technician will be universal across all of society. We have miles to go before we sleep, my friends.
About the Author
Jo Elizabeth Pinto was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970’s. In 1992, she received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, she earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. She freelances as an editor and a braille proofreader.
As an author, Pinto entertains her readers while giving them food for thought. In her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, she draws on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away.
Pinto lives in Colorado with her husband, her teenage daughter, her guide dog Spreckles, and an aging family cat named Sam-I-Am.
Her website is: http://www.brightsideauthor.com.