Thursday, March 17, 2011

Temporary Setback

Today was the first day that an interaction with people on the street left me feeling anxious and self-conscious about my lack of vision. This morning my O&M class consisted of being dropped off on Michigan Avenue with the assignment of finding a particular restaurant on my own. Not a problem. I have always been very good with directions and even with my limited vision if I travel past particular locations or down streets more than once, I can almost always find them again. Providing I've been paying attention to my surroundings. Just to be sure I was properly following my assignment; I did verify its location with a very helpful water delivery man. 

A few minutes later, after walking into the very cozy Theo & Stacy's restaurant and checking out their delicious looking desserts, I was on my way to finding the next location. A parked radio station van broadcasting live in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. (Side note: Even though today was St. Patty's Day, it was early enough, around 8:30 A.M., that the streets of downtown were quiet.) Approximately half a block down from where I was I could see two figures approaching me on the sidewalk. I checked my position on the sidewalk to be sure I was walking on the right so there would be enough space for us to pass. I slowed my pace as I noticed they were veering to their right. Purposely. As they passed, approximately only 8-10 inches from my left shoulder, the guy closest to me said VERY loudly, "Don't TRIP me!" I kept my gaze straight ahead and continued on my way as their raucous laughter got quieter as the distance between us increased. 

As far as I could tell these young men weren't drunk, so I am stymied by this interaction. After speaking with my O&M instructor and the other students in my class about weird situations they have found themselves in; I firmly believe that by ignoring them I handled the situation correctly. I was advised not to let it bother me but I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Being well aware that I can't control other people's reactions, I am quite irritated with how far this 10 second interaction with two insensitive people set me back confidence wise. For the rest of the class I was hesitant and could no longer easily embrace the freedom that carrying a cane allows me. I felt simultaneously embarrassed about my perceived vulnerability and furious at how ignorant people can be. To be honest, I was also scared. If it had been dark out I would have felt downright terrified. I have enough issues with anxiety that I certainly don't need some idiotic, twenty- something pranksters adding to it. It wasn't until I got back to the Center surrounded by people that I identify with and trust that I was able to relax and let my guard down

As I become more comfortable with myself and my vision loss I will be less and less likely to let a tiny minority of people bother me so much. Until then, I will have to settle with giving myself the permission to let this bother me for today only. Tomorrow, I vow not to be embarrassed by my cane. I also vow not to be annoyed with idiots who don't understand that if I had wanted to trip them my vision loss wouldn't have stopped me one bit.  


  1. I'm always amazed by your patience and poise. Let yourself feel how you need to feel but remember that those two punks didn't earn or deserve your classy reaction...they deserved a verbal walloping! They'll get what they deserve from someone else, and you won't have to be the one who reminds them that they are morons. Win, win I'd say!

    Thinking about you everyday and looking forward to updates! Love ya!

  2. Feisty is always healthy, I say, Christy. So after your honest reflection on how that interaction made you feel I think it's awesome that your fighting spirit prevails! Soldier on, sister!