Legally Blind – An embarrassment of riches

Today was a bad day.

Losing my sight in general isn’t something I can mark with big occasions. Sure, there was certainly my detached retina back in 2003 or so, but by and large it’s a long, incremental process. The last four years or so, I’ve begun losing my small reading vision. It’s not always possible for me on a day-to-day basis to read cooking instructions, dietary details, or pill bottles. I still have workarounds, thankfully – taking pictures with my phone helps a ton, and my family is great about assisting me when they’re around – so I don’t tend to notice or think about the loss of reading vision.

That has to change after today.

I went grocery shopping with my mom today. Nothing major, just our usual out-of-town shopping at Super 1 Foods, which is usually one of my favorite stores. I brought my cart full of stuff to the front, not really thinking about much as I ran my card through the machine. Nowadays I have to practically press my nose to most those machines to see the screens. It’s just a thing I have to do. Today it asked for my PIN. I entered it. And when I looked up to take my receipt, the clerk was holding out quite a large amount of cash and a fistful of change.

“What’s this?” I asked, smiling pleasantly.

The woman, sweet and extremely helpful, looked puzzled. “It’s the cash back you requested.”

The machine did not, in fact, ask me for my PIN.  It asked me how much cash back I needed.

Now, thankfully, this month has been an okay one financially. I could transfer some money around and get it covered, and I did – plus we made it home in time to deposit the money I withdrew back into the account, and it only cost me double humiliation of the pity on the clerk’s face at the store followed by the utter bafflement of the ladies I dealt with at the bank.

I’ve had a few drinks tonight. Some beer, some vodka. It’s the first time I’ve tied one on in a while. My poor mom thinks I’m angry at her or upset because she wasn’t around to help me with the debit card reader. She’s asked me, no joke, probably eight times tonight if I’m okay. And honestly, I don’t know how to comfort her on that one. I will be. Of course I will be. But I am humiliated by something completely out of my control. I am angry, not at her or anyone else, but at my condition, especially because this is just another day. There will be more unexpected humiliations like this. There already have been, stuff that makes me ill to think about. It’s one more thing I have to ask for help with. And you know what? That fucking sucks. There’s no way to sugarcoat that. Today was an absolute crap day. Tomorrow will be better and I will adapt. I always do.

But today, I get to feel alone in a spectacularly shitty way. And there is nothing to do but grit my teeth and take the beating.

Screw you, eyes.

Legally Blind – The Look

There’s this look I get from people time to time when I go out. It’s not just a look, as in mild curiosity, but The Look, something wholly unique to those of us with truly messed-up bodies. It’s the Look that says, “Oh God, how weird is this guy? What do I have to deal with here?”

I get it most frequently from single mothers. That’s not exactly a demographic I deal with on a regular basis, but I do see them from time to time in stores, at the spa where I swim, or walking down the street, as you do. And in their case, it’s understandable, you know? They have a lot to deal with just from regular dudes, so a guy like me must seem like DEFCON-5 levels of weird. Still, it sucks that we live in a world where, when I make a comment about some cool baby-floater thingie without getting close or trying to be threatening, young mothers feel the need to push away and give me The Look.

But they’re not the only ones. Restaurant servers are next on the list, and almost every time, it comes with a certain degree of exasperation when they realize I’m blind to boot. It’s a double-whammy of great feelings. There’s a restaurant here in town where I walk in and immediately feel like a bug pinned to the wall. The Look seems to come with some great internal debate, like, “Ugh, can this homely looking guy actually pay?” Well, yeah, I can. You have no reason to suspect my money isn’t good just because I’m frigging weird looking.

That’s not all, though. It’s impossible to get many people to take me seriously, and when someone busts out The Look, I know I’m about to either be treated like a child or like I’m subhuman. At least I can anticipate it. That’s nice. Clerks can be the worst at that. Ask them to help find something, and out comes The Look, like I’m hatching some master scheme to rob the grocery store of its Butterfingers and Triscuits. I stepped foot into my old office recently needing a map copied and got The Look from a few different angles as I tried to explain what I needed. Try to strike up a conversation with a random person? There’s the Look.

There’s no real point to this post. It’s not something that’s going to change an d I can’t expect it to. There will always be people like me in society, who want to be normal and that’s an impossibility thanks to genetics and bad luck. But… just do me one favor. Try not to be the one giving The Look, okay?