What Did I Say


What Did I Say

     It was a warm Spring day. I was outside trimming the rose bushes along the front walk of my home. The sun felt good, I had a radio on and I was pleasantly day dreaming.

     “You shouldn’t have to do that.” The postman’s voice came out of no where.

     Recovering from the surprise, I dug a large thorn out that had broken off in my palm. I hadn’t been aware of his arrival and I was no longer sure which of the two past events happened first, the voice or the thorn! However, the tone in which he made his comment gave me know doubt of his true meaning.

     I didn’t say anything at first. I knew he knew about my blindness and I wanted to get my wits about me before I spoke.

e-mail responses to newmanrl@cox.net

**1. “I would have replied in a normal voice a greeting and then added that I pride myself on being able to do any and everything he is able to do. And just gone on from there...would have loved to have been able to see his
face, though, with that answer!”

Annie Holsworth (Albany, Oregon, USA)

**2. “In a situation like this, the mail carrier probably doesn't have a lot of time for a discussion of philosophy of blindness. So, I think I'd say
Something like, "Oh, but it's such a beautiful day. I'm enjoying the sun
and my roses! It's very relaxing, and I wouldn't want anyone else to do
it." That would show him that a blind person is very capable of working
with the flowers and that it isn't something someone else is forcing you
to do. It will also keep the conversation light, but he will know that
you understood his meaning.”

Cindy Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania, USA, cindy425@voicenet.com)

**3. “Many years ago when I was a young child, I read a story called, "Androcles and the lion." This Greek fellow named Androcles encountered a lion one-day any the lion was obviously in greet pain. It turned out that the lion had a thorn in his paw. Androcles tenderly removed the thorn and probably applied a bit of aloe to speed the healing process. Many years later, perhaps he had become a Christian, he was captured by the Romans and was to be used as entertainment for the Roman mobs. He was led into the Forum and soon a ferocious starved lion charged into the Forum and bounded toward him. Just before reaching him, ready to slay and devour Androcles, the lion suddenly stopped, slowly approached Androcles and nuzzled him as Androcles scratched him behind the ears.

Naturally, this amazed and angered the mob. Well, if I were the postman, I think I would start by helping the blind man remove the thorn from his hand and thereby moderate the lecture that was about the be delivered. "Sir," I might begin after this kindly gesture, "I can hardly say how much I appreciate that kindness and how much I admire the postman who makes his appointed rounds in sleet and storm or dark of night. It really must take a great deal of courage and dedication. I especially appreciate all that free matter you deliver to me; Braille books from the Regional Library in Utah: I'm an avid reader of Braille.

Incidentally, I just ordered book on raising roses for pleasure and profit. Can I sell you a dozen, by the way? My motivation in tending these roses is pretty straightforward: you know, pleasure and profit. It probably won't surprise you to know that blind people are motivated by pleasure and profit. You deliver the mail for a salary, by the way? Blindness hasn't altered my motivation and, in spite of this careless thorn incident, I am pretty good at
it. Incidentally, I suspect that anyone, blind or not, shouldn't have to do
this: they should do it out of a love of gardening. It sure makes life a lot more pleasurable and profitable that way." In actuality, I probably would have sworn, but it feels so good to get thorns out of your hands that the loss of pain constitutes a positive pleasure.”

James S. Nyman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**4. “The postman in question might have been of the older generation who thought that blind people couldn't do anything. Personally, I'd rather be playing the piano than dealing with a rose bush.”

Jann Rutherford (Australia, jannr@magnetic.net.au)

FROM ME: “Interesting comment “…from the older generation…” Is this “newer” generation different? How and why? What are the chances for yet the “next” generation?”

**5. “I sort of imagine the conversation would go something like this:

"I'm sorry, were you speaking to me?" Mail Carrier, "Well yes I was. "I'm sorry, I really wasn't paying attention, what were you saying?" Mail
Carrier, "Well, I was saying you shouldn't have to do that." "Oh, do you
think it is a little too early in the season to be trimming them? I know we
have had more rain this year." "Well, that's not really what I meant. What
I was saying... What I mean is, don't you think you should have someone else
do that for you?" "Well, I don't know, I've never really thought about it.
I know a lot of folks in the neighborhood hire a gardener to take care of
their flowers, but I really enjoy doing it myself, and besides mine always
seem to do very well. You know I read a book a couple of years ago on
taking care of your flower garden, and I really learned a lot about the
subject." Mail carrier, "That's not what I'm talking about, I am talking
about you getting hurt or at the very least not getting them trimmed
properly!" doing my best to look confused, "Hurt? I don't understand what
you mean?" Mail Carrier, "The Clippers, you could cut yourself with the
clippers, and then there are all the thorns!" "I've never had any trouble
with them before, I mean isn't it awfully difficulty to cut yourself if you
are holding the clippers the correct way? Have you gotten hurt using the
clippers before?" Mail carrier, "Well, of course not, I can see what I am
doing!" "Oh, Well, I was going to say if you are having some problems using
them I would be happy to show you how to use them the proper way." Mail
Carrier, "You'll show me?" "Sure, I'll be happy to do that for you, after
all that's what neighbors are for. By the way, do you have any mail for us
today?" Mail carrier, "Oh yeah, reaching into his bag, but aren't you
concerned that... Never mind, have a nice day." "You too.”

I know there's no way I would win the first round, but I would much rather settle for a draw.”

Jeff Altman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**6. “I would take the opportunity to have him sit down with you and
Explain what he means. Perhaps he is expressing concern and
That should not be held against him. The best way to get the
positive news out about blindness is to communicate.
Good thought Provoker!”

Catherine Alfieri (7 Summer Tree, Pittsford, NY 14534, USA)

**7. “I, being who I am, would probably responded to the postman by saying, "why
not? This is my rose bush? I paid for it. Why should I not groom it?"
This might well be one of those scenarios where one might say very little
and just continue to trim up the bush. Let the postman come back and see
how well it is done each day. As far as the thorn goes...well...every
rose has it's thorn and no one, blind or sighted, would plant it without
realizing so.”

Ryan Osentowski (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**8. “I think I would have played it off. First, I would say
something like, "why not, I'm not that old." Or "IF I don't
do it, who will?" Or maybe even, "Is that an offer?"
I would do this because any answer that assumed the mail
carrier meant I shouldn't have to do that because I'm blind
might imply that the idea was also in my mind. For example,
when people tell me how remarkable I am for going back to
school, and doing so well, I always say something like,
"thanks, it is certainly tough going back to school after
being out for so many years". One reason I say this is
because I do think that anyone who goes back to school
after 20 years out, does deserve credit. I don't want
anyone to give me credit for doing it because I'm blind.
That shouldn't make any difference.”

Elaine Morgan (Texas, USA,

Visit my webpage

The Blind Leading the Blind

Where the blind help each other!)

**9. “My first reaction to this Provoker was--Why is it that people do not say
"hello," before startling you with their observations--"you should have
someone else to do that," or "I know a guy who could do that!" First, you
get so involved in what you are doing that you are immediately on guard
when surprised, and that's when you drop the pan of hot water all over, or
stick yourself with the thorn!! People should realize that blind people
startle too, and it's rather unnerving to get a tap on the shoulder, when
you never heard the person walk up to you. I almost gave an old lady a
fist for that one, not really meaning to, but just instinctively, since I
hadn't heard her coming! She never spoke before tapping me on the
shoulder, and my first reaction was to turn quickly with my fist up! It's
hard for people to realize that when you don't see, people should try
talking first. I appreciate the story's point, but I think that when we
concentrate on what we do, whether we are sighted or not, we are all
startled by somebody suddenly appearing! I think that waiting to calm
down is best, although the incident with the thorn was directly caused by
the surprise. In the case I mentioned, I reacted before I even thought,
so had to apologize profusely. The lady was a new neighbor and was only
trying to introduce herself to me. It was really embarrassing.”

Phyllis Stevens (Johnson City Tennessee, USA, Phyllis, Lea, & capmbmmiibs

see kitties & Lea at:


**10. “I had two responses to this one. First, "But roses grow. And someone has to
do it." The second was that it wouldn't make a shred of difference what I
said to the postman since he didn't have time to listen, and education cannot
be done in a flash.

Also, I'd think, how dumb can this guy get? I guess I'm prejudiced.”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York, USA)

**11. “In response to your story about the rose bush, I would probably have reacted
much as you, then explained to the postman that I enjoy pruning my roses
(which, by the way, I truly do), and it must be done for the bush's growth.
No doubt, he would then ask questions about how I know how, etc., which I'd
have simply answered. I don't take offense to sighted people's inquiries
about how I do things, even though sometimes, they put it in a rather
condescending manner initially. I realize they simply don't know, or, live
in dread that the same could happen to them (becoming blind) and they would
be unable to do anything--much less prune a rosebush!”

In regards to Thought Provokers, I'm very much interested in sharing with
others. So, here's my information: My name is Jessie L. Rayl, birth date
is 06/02/63; I'm totally blind due to Retinoblastoma. My location is
Martinsburg, West Virginia. I am a therapist at the local mental health
center and enjoy my job very much. I have a Pilot dog, Chelsea, and a pet
dog, Doglette; live alone in a house I bought with a small yard which I do
most of the upkeep independently.

This is probably more than you asked for. I have not been to any web sites
or home pages because I'm just learning this thing and prefer e-mails. That
address is: Rcdeagle@ix.netcom.com . I don't have a spell check, either!!

Jessie Rayl (Martinsburg, West Virginia, USA,

Contact: Rcdeagle@ix.netcom.com )

**12. “This short story reminds me of me. I mowed an entire front yard for the
first time ever last Thursday. It was difficult partly because I do not
have a polished, practiced, tried and true alternative technique to fall
back on. I thought that my technique would be to wear shoes with little
height (but which did cover my toes) and be able to feel where the lawn came
up on my feet. I had chosen the front as my first project because it is
somewhat smaller than our back yard. I immediately realized 2 things.
Firstly, the front yard has some fairly significant slope to it along one
edge and getting the mower up that slope was difficult. (I didn't know about
the auto-push mechanism yet so I was doing all of the movement work.)
Secondly, the front yard does not get as long as the back so I had
difficulty telling where I had mowed. That made my alternative technique an
entire tank of gas as opposed to the third of a tank my husband usually
spends on that part of the yard.

Back to the point of the story, I heard later that there were kids across
the street who felt compelled to come help me mow it. Their smart mother
told them that I probably wanted to do it myself. I am glad that they
didn't tempt me with offers to mow. I might have taken it. As it turned
out, I am no longer afraid to mow a lawn. A bad haircut only lasts a lawn
about a week anyway so as long as I didn't run over the blade-eating
monster, nothing lost and something gained.

I am pleased to say that the blade-eating monster is still at large and I
now know I can mow a lawn. Although I am not ready to go out for pay, my
own yard is fair game and I am glad to be a part of keeping it beautiful.”

Nancy Coffman (Lincoln, NE, USA)

**13. " Mr. Mailman, you are so right. I just thought I would spruce up my place
a bit and at the same time get some exercise. don't you think this is a
well-groomed row of bushes? It takes a special touch to get these beauties
to not only bloom but flourish. However I do thank you for noticing sir and
you have a nice day too." I say this because I have a blind friend who is 77
years old. she hires someone to mow her grass but I understand she has some
of the nicest roses and Betty can find just the right spot to prune and cut.”

“Yet another approach could be as follows: " Well, Hello there Mr. Mailman.
You are absolutely right. I should not have to do this, but I happen to
like taking care of these bushes. they are my pride and joy. It is hard to
find someone to hire who is not in a hurry. Besides sir, it is a beautiful
day and so far, I have but one thorn stuck in my hand. Don't you think these
bushes look nicer with a little extra work? I do however appreciate you
stopping to chat. It is always nice to have such a nice mailman. Enjoy the
day, like I am." so off goes the mailman, wondering how one could take care
of these bushes if one was blind.”

Lee a. stone (Hudson, New York, USA, stonedge@taconic.net )

**14. “I hope in the long run your trimming those bushes would give the postman a good example of a blind“ person living independently and enjoying working outside.
This got me to thinking about something else. I'm wondering if it might be useful to have some sort of forum where we talk about how-tos of homeownership. In other words, people share hints on how to do things such as well, trimming rose bushes.
I've owned my home for about three years, and I've learned an incredible amount!
What do you think?”

Liz Campbell (Texas, USA)

**15. “I'd be inclined to say something like "Yeah, you're probably right but I
do so enjoy doing this and getting my hands dirty and all. It's
therapeutic for me." Really, that's what I'd probably say because I'm
sure I've been in situations like that. What else can I say?

I guess I could comment about how someone might approach you, stand there
for awhile and watch and not say anything at first. That's buggy, it's a
form of eavesdropping that can only happen to people who are blind, and
in my case, have a vision impairment and a hearing impairment as
well. Hand in glove with that sort of eavesdropping is the way some
people will talk about a blind person within earshot about the blind
person. Am I wrong? I've seen it.

After thinking about this a little bit, it also illustrates how some
individuals have decided what are the right things and wrong things for
certain types of people to do. All kinds of people make those sort of
judgmental decisions about all sorts of people because they know what's
the right thing to do. I think we all make that sort of decision about
others, but it's much easier for sighted people who don't understand
vision impairment and blindness.”

Steven Cook (Tacoma, Washington, USA,

CookVegies2@juno.com )

**16. “Well, I suppose I would have said, "well, there is no one to do it for me,
and even if there was, I have been doing it for so long, they might not do
it the way I do."

Dawn Petty (Chicago, Illinois, USA)

17. “Another of those not so helpful comments that have the undercurrent of discrimination splattered all over it. What should he be doing? Sitting on the porch in a rocking chair sipping ice tea while cradling a cane in his lap? Looking helpless while waiting for someone to come and do what he obviously enjoys and is good at? How does one respond to enlighten without beheading the poor postman? Perhaps a "I enjoy my gardening and don't want any amateurs messing with my prize roses. " Or "You know, you just can't find good help these days." Or "Piss off!" Better watch the postal worker syndrome though, he may be packing a piece in that unassuming little mailbag. I'll bet the comment stung more than the rose thorn.”

Suzanne Lange (California, USA)

**18. “My first response to this paragraph was anger, which I'm sure may have been
the first response of the man taking care of his roses. So many times, I
have encountered people of the sighted world, that think being blind is more
than just a handicap. Some want us to be so helpless, instead of still
living a normal life. They somehow think that we no longer have the desire
to continue our lives and enjoy our hobbies and talents.
So instead of anger, I would as the man did, first take my time to
rationalize my own feelings. Then explain the joy that life has to offer
with so many other things, than just sight. I have learned through my time
of blindness, there is no ignorance or pity in most sighted people. I
believe all they need is to be enlighten on the joy of all the other senses
that mean so much to people which they have a tendency to ignore and let
sight take over their whole viewing on life. I, myself, was one of those
people. Sight was my main role in life ... now I am honored to enjoy all the
wonderful things that I had missed that I never paid attention too... Like
the inner person, instead of just the outside shell. I hope someday,
everyone will be able to teach each other all the blessing that are in life,
other than just sight.
So everyone just think... before we let out anger, lets enlighten them to new
ways to enjoy life. *SMILE”

Ann Duncan (Missouri, USA, Tear2many@aol.com )

**19. FROM ME: “Following is a positive out come of a situation that many of us either have or will have when we choose to use computers. See how this fits our Provoker.”

“You can share this, or any part of it, if you want.

My server went down sometime Tuesday night. Since then, I have been working
to get my computer and e-mail, etc. back up. Unfortunately, some of my
settings were not set correctly so I'd been having some irritating problems
all along. Well, every time (about four or five) over the past several
days, and every time previously, that I called the tech. supports with
netcom, I had to explain that I'm totally blind, using speech and no mouse!
Initially, some were taken aback, probably uncertain whether we'd get
through this; however, all were most helpful to me and extremely willing to
help--and we got through it fine and with some great laughs. They all were
impressed by the speech quality, my ability to use this computer screen
reader and follow information, etc.--and not one was condescending. One, I
do believe it is absolutely importance to use tolerance and try to
understand, even in the most infuriating situations, that those out there
with vision live in fear they will not have it, and in ignorance about what
to do if they did not. 2. If anyone finds they are having a lot of
problems when they call their Internet tech. supports because of lack of
understanding that we typically do not use mouses, I'd recommend highly
Netcom. For $21,00 and unlimited hours, and their willingness to help and
understand, you can't beat them.

Write in again, and you bet I'll respond.”

Jessie Rayl (Martinsburg, West Virginia, USA)

**20. “I think I would have made a joke and said "When I win theLottery, I'll hire a gardener." Another option would be, "Let me knowwhen God comes up with self-trimming rose bushes." These kinds of
things are not worth getting too worked up about.”

Kathy McGillivray (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA,

E-mail: mcgil007@tc.umn.edu)

**21. “There is so much I would want to say. But I’m not so sure it would mean too much to this person, not at least after this first conversation. I would also want my action of trimming the roses and in general taking care of my house to show about my ability as a person who just so happens to be blind. I think that for this person and like most people, more than words would be necessary and you would hope they would think back over both what they heard and saw and make an adjustment in their knowledge about the abilities of people who also happen to be blind and know that blindness doesn’t mean you “shouldn’t be doing that.” After all, like they say, “Seeing is believing,” so I would hope this guy wasn’t so blind to learn from the rose bush encounter.”

FROM ME: What does it take for most people to learn?”

**22. “Nobody should have to trim roses; they should trim themselves, like good responsible roses.”

Mike Floyd (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**23. “You're right, I shouldn't have to do this, but I have yet to find a self-maintaining rose."

Shari Miller (California, USA)

**24. “I would tell the post man that if its going to get done I'm the one that is going to have to do it.

Is this post man the type that is willing to keep a lonely lady thatlives alone happy (smile)”

Susan Day (USA)

**25. “I lived in New Jersey - about 40 miles due west of Manhattan - from 1988 to 1994. I was employed by a large, global ocean-going containerized shipping company, whose North American headquarters were located two towns away from where I lived. Every day, I put on the corporate uniform - conservative business suit, hose, blouse, hanky in the pocket, faultlessly applied make-up, and not a hair out of place. I then walked about a mile with my Seeing Eye dog, Bentley, in my tennis shoes (pumps in my purse) to the New Jersey Transit train, where I promptly boarded with the other young - and some not so young - professionals. After many months of performing this same task, a young man who imported shoes into New York City with whom I had conversed on many occasions, finally said to me, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?" "Of course not," I politely replied. I notice that you take the same train to Madison every day. Do you go to some kind of day program?" he asked. "Oh yes," I replied. "I go to this little adult daycare just up the road. It's called Maersk Data (USA). I'm a Project Leader and Assistant Manager of the North American Import Department, where I manage five people. How about you? Where do you go everyday dressed in a business suit?”

My smooth and unflustered response obviously caused him much embarrassment, as businessmen and women for many seats around were chuckling to themselves. I noticed that the following morning - and every morning there after - he always seemed to manage to board the train on another car than the one I selected.”

Lisa Mauldin (USA)

**26. “My first reaction as always was a sarcastic one, "Tell you what, you trim my
roses and I'll deliver your mail, that is if you think you can handle it."

Rhonda Sampley (Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

**27. “Before I make my response I'd like to say a few things about something
entirely different. Get some input on them. Today at work I had the
opportunity to share a tidbit of blind know how to an interested friend.
She was curious to know why the blind cane is white with a red tip.
My friend has a speech impairment and being handicapped herself has a keen
understanding of others. She told me about an event that happened this
morning which left me dumbfounded. When coming into work this
morning she said she saw a totally blind man in the street in front of
the office walking directly into traffic with his white cane sweeping a
wide arc. I couldn't possibly think of an explanation for this. There's
a blind school around the corner from my office but I can't imagine
they'd tell a student to walk into traffic, into the oncoming cars. Does
anyone have any ideas?

Now for my response. What I think would be the best thing to do in this
situation is play dumb to the postman, "why shouldn't I be cutting the
hedges? Somebody has to do it." Personally though, knowing myself, I'd
probably take offense. The mailman didn't mean any harm, but ignorance
and stupidity of people is enough to drive you crazy. Even my closest
friends pull crap like that, but they honestly don't mean any harm by it.
- Wondering what possibly a hearing and visually impaired person can do.
And its frustrating. But I guess the only thing to do is continue to
attempt to educate them, though I'm getting tired of that because I don't
really feel most people have open minds to the situation of the

Patricia Hubschman (Levittown, New York, USA)

FROM ME: “About the blind traveler mentioned in Patricia’s message, I’d say the guy was off track. I’ve done something like that too, more than once, but not for long.)

**28. “The reason I originally focused in my first post on being startled, and
getting the thorn in my finger, was that this thing that sighted people
have of not considering that when a blind person does not see him/her, it
is just as startling if a sighted person were not paying attention. This
is and has been always a bone of contention for me. I don't like being
startled. If the person would have said:
“Hi there Miss Stevens," I don't think that this would have been as
unnerving to me, so that I could regroup..

The point was, that most people start out with their inane questions,
without acknowledging me as a person first. I guess that's what caught
my attention first, not what I would say to the mail carrier!

However, now that I have read some of the responses, I think, I would have
said simply that I liked to garden, and that's why I choose to do it
myself. This would not explain much, and if the carrier has prejudice, he
still would, but actions speak a lot louder than words, and each day, when
he again delivers the mail, he will notice how neat those roses really
are, and this will teach this person a lot more than all the speeches I
could make to him.

I hope I am allowed a second try, to answer. Just pretend I am responding
to my first post----okay?”

Phyllis Stevens (Johnson City Tennessee, USA,

Phyllis, Lea, & capmbmmiibs

see kitties & Lea at:


FROM ME: “You may write in as many times as you would like; providing its on topic.”

**29. “Since I do this, I feel comfortable in raising this question, "Why do
visually impaired people always assume that anything said to them reflects
on their handicap? I make casual comments to people all the time, and
that's just what they are---casual comments. Perhaps, the postman was just
making a casual comment and not referring to the inability to see. Not
everything said to us is worthy of comment or lecture---sometimes just
saying, "I enjoy doing this." is all that's required. Sometimes, we help
ourselves most by not taking ourselves so seriously!”

Janet Coleman

**30. “Hello. It sounds as though many of you had responses which were similar to
my own. I do want to say one thing, however. Some people seemed to have the
idea that it would be crazy for a sighted person to even question whether
or not a blind person could trim rosebushes. I'm here to say that I would
have no idea how to trim a rose bush. This does not mean that I don't think
it's possible; it just means I don’t know how to do it. I suppose that
would probably be true if I were sighted, too. At times, I wish there were
more ways for blind people to talk with each other about how they do
various tasks such as this one. I've owned a house for two years and there
are just some tasks which nobody has taught me. I don't know how to put in
a new showerhead. (I did ask one of my sighted female friends about this
and she didn't know how to do it either, so maybe it doesn't have a lot to
do with blindness.) I also need some ideas on washing my own windows and
knowing that I have done a good job and that they are not streaked. Mirrors
are easy for me, but I'm not sure about windows. I bet there are a number
of blind people who are not sure how to do this and there are some other
ones who do it themselves, but nobody has the heart to tell them that their
windows are streaked up. (Please don't shoot me, anyone.) I am confident
that there are some people who do a great job at this task, so if any of
you want to send me a personal note on this, that would be great. I know I
have been rambling, but I’m just going to make one more point which might
make a good provoker at some time. At times, it's difficult to balance out
the benefits of doing something by myself versus the time I would sometimes
save by having someone else do it. Also, if I’m going to spend a good chunk
of time doing something, I want to make sure it turns out well. I guess
there are no hard and fast rules on this one. Finally, lest anyone think I
have my own personal housekeepers and gardeners because I am blind, I don't.
I especially enjoy cooking a variety of foods, especially Chinese, so if
anyone wants tips on that, just let me know.

Not Afraid to Try Almost Anything.”

Kathy McGillivray (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)

*831. “Earthlings have no clue about handicapped people. I would have tried to
joke it off by saying" drop your mail bag and give me a hand." or "The roses think I'm doing ok."

Julie Dauksza (Valley Cottage, New York, USA)

**32. “I would explain that I was doing it because I enjoyed it, not because I had
to. A rose is a rose but a thorn can take many forms. :-)

Bob Black

**33. “I particularly want to respond to Lisa Mauldin (USA). Lisa, I've got to
say that your reaction to the guy on the train was BEAUTIFUL!!! Who other
than blind people in the wonderful age of "awareness" would have to put up
with people who are so full of twisted hang-ups and preconceptions that, no
matter how we are dressed, how we look, how we handle ourselves, or
anything else, simply insist on treating us like small children? I think
that it is so sad that with all we have at our fingertips and the supposed
power of thought and reason that people are so inclined to forego those
powers and submit to the old "tell me how I am supposed to think" mentality
that seems to go along with all of this foolishness called "political
correctness". Lisa, you did a beautiful job of putting this guy in his
place and, if he were really a man he should have respected you for it
because, after all, wasn't that what he was doing to you? If this guy had
anything going he would have processed the experience and said to himself
"hey, she's alright". But, he chose to cower and run away from the
opportunity to broaden his mind just a bit. I have spoken about what I call
"the age of awareness" before and, I think that the way in which Lisa
responded to this gentleman is the correct approach because we are being
classified and categorized into a very mythical and ridiculous position.
We can not let the general public forget that, just like others, we have to
put up with the same things that everyone else does and that, when this
extra load of foolishness is dumped on us, you just have to respond in a
like manner which may seem harsh and rood but, think about it...what about
social grace? Yah, that's right!! Not on the part of those of us who are
blind but, on the part of people who have been given the ability to think
and reason and, who simply choose not to use it...like the guy on the train
with Lisa or, the postman in the thought provoker.”

Bob Simonson (Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

**34. “Hi, everyone,
I've often wondered how people who think we shouldn't be doing things like
tending our gardens think we get them done. Am I missing something? Do you
all carry around a bottle with a genie in it who comes out every time you
have a chore to do?

I get that attitude in volunteer organizations, particularly my church.
This is especially true if I want to do something that requires moving
around. The same people who complain when I want to help say they have to
do everything themselves because no one else will volunteer. I still think
it helps for people to see us doing normal things that have nothing to do
with blindness.”

Abby and Mellow Yellow Mills (Blind-issues list)

**35. “Hi, guys. I thought I'd reply to this one since I think I might have a
somewhat different take on it. First of all, I definitely do not mind
people trying to help me, if they think I need it. But I most certainly
don't like being talked to like I'm a 5-year-ol as opposed to a normal
adult, say of 24 years. And I'm sure that many of you who are older and
who may have families like being talked down to even less.
Here is my take. I just got back from a study abroad trip to The
Gambia in West Africa. It seemed to me that the people there treated me
and my blindness somewhat differently than they people generally did in
this country. First of all, I didn't get that condescending attitude that
we all love so much. People were definitely willing to help, but many
seemed to wait to see what I could do. I also didn't get that "I don't
know how to talk to a blind person feeling. How do I talk to a blind person
feeling." That I seem to get a lot here. People were very willing to talk
to me, even if it was to ask me how I was doing.
I'm not saying that everything over there is perfect. And I'm not
saying that there may not have been some people who may have been just as
condescending as people can be over here. But it felt so much better to
not have to feel like I had to explain myself and how I can do what I do.
People just seemed to watch and learn, I guess.
As far as getting around independently over there goes. It is very
difficult. There aren't many sidewalks. And the cars, taxis, people and
other things have to maneuver on the same most times narrow street. It can
be done, though, if you know the area. Since I didn't, a friend whom I met
the first day I was there, offered to be my personal guide and he took me
wherever I needed to go. He was extremely helpful to me.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts. I hope I didn't stray too far off
the intended discussion.
Take care all, and I hope everyone is having a good day.”

Ginny Quick (Blind-issues list)

**36. “Even though I have been at my job for over two years now, every mistake
that happens is blamed on me first. Very rarely are they my mistakes, but
you know the routine. I have begun asking for public apologies from my
fellow employees. It is funny how fewer mistakes I am blamed for now.”

Josh Smith (Blind-issues list)

**37. “Ask him if he would like to take your place and trim the bushes himself.
Tell him they are not going to trim themselves and that you have waited for
a long time for them to do just that but they have not responded.

Recently someone in my wife's office asked her how I went to law
school. I did not respond, but told her that maybe she should explain to
this person that I usually walk to class and open my book and take notes.
You know, I bet they would be shocked to know that I had a normal wedding
night, being blind and all that.”

Joshua A. Smith (BlindLaw list)

**38. “Not only him, but all the guys have been scrambling
to help lately. I spoke up at a staff meeting. I
used to be painfully shy and would rather immolate
myself than confront others. Now that I'm physically
unable to do so without risking a fracture, I have
decided not to throw myself on the altar of martyrdom
anymore. But confrontation is still difficult for
me, unless I get really mad - then I open up a mouth
without thinking what will come out!
But at the staff meeting I kept my cool and spoke
about how the brass say we are ALL professionals
here, and therefore we should ALL offer help to each
other when it appears necessary.”

Carolyn Gold (RPlist, Clearwater, Florida, USA)

**39. “Okay. A little late but yesterday was a good example of how incapable some
people think the blind are. I had fallen (again) and skinned my whole leg
up good at this time. I had no napkins, but I did have water that I used
for my dog. I was in a hurry to make sure that "Andy" and I didn't miss
the bus, and Andy's paws were burning, so that's why I fell, he went to
the grass, I wanted the sidewalk.
Anyway, I got on my bus and inquired as to whether anyone had any Kleenex
or paper towels. I received some assistance with a paper towel and began
to clean my knee and leg. Another passenger gave me two band-aids. I
tried to figure out where you pulled the paper covering the band-aid
apart. I said phooey on that idea, and ripped the paper another way.
I was asked if I needed some help, and if I could do that okay. Geez. I
have even had people walk to the bathroom at church with me, and I have
basically had to run them out, or they would insist on helping me take
care of my business too. Ugggh.”

Reenah A Blackwell and "Andy" (Blind-issues list)

**40. “I tell people that what I should be doing is changing attitudes and creating opportunities. I think the
changing of attitudes is the tougher of the two. We in the profession need,
not only, to change society's attitudes but also change people's attitudes
about themselves. So many people are not willing to change what they feel
about a disability and so they never truly become independent. You almost
wish that we had the ability to take them away forcibly and teach them what
they need to know to live a good life. I guess the old joke is still true.
How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? The answer: Only
one, but the light bulb needs to want to be changed.”

Jim Antonacci (USA)

**41. “Being President of the Thorton Heights Lions, Working at a Stock computer,
Member of Monjoy Hill Assoc., Do senior citizen visits with my Guide dog
and making a video on Guide dogs & Do's and don'ts. I found this rather
interesting in the education of our population in U.S.
I would say to the postman or post Woman " Would you prefer myself to stay
inside and away from doing any kind of work or would you prefer myself to
be a productive citizen here in the city? Knowing his reply, being that
I've had this conversation many times. It would be of course I'd like to
see you a productive person. It that the person has answered his/her
question." I have had on many occasions
the same questions ask while mowing my lawn, working the flower bed,
running the snow blower, shoveling snow, even walking in the city with my
guide dog, going to school, down skiing and water skiing. I'm glad this
questions are ask on how do you do that or are you really blind? As this
opens the door of communication and to show how blind person can and do
be come a working person, involved in the community and can do workaround
the house - in and out side and even enjoy sports. As I explain in talking
with many different Lions here in the state of Maine. Who think that blind
persons are living in a protected world.”

Gene Stone (Portland, Maine, USA, geno@maine.rr.com )

**42. “Very interesting "thought provoker." I must say that I am just a little
surprised at the over sensitivity of many of the respondents. The short
story did not give me sufficient info to cause me to think that the Postman
intended any misunderstanding of whether or not a blind person, in
particular, could or could not trim the rose bushes. It may well have been
that he thought that a person of that stature should be able to afford
someone to do that for him or her. Who knows? I also must agree with one
of the respondents in saying that the Postman might just as well have been
making casual conversation. I would simply have answered in kind.
Depending on how I might have read his intent (have I had similar
conversations with this Postman before, etc.) I might have made a joke or
Some of us really need to chill out a bit. Besides if we are, indeed,
going to change what it means to be blind should we be shirking away every
opportunity to educate people with whom we might be speaking with on a
regular basis? If he is delivering my mail, then I want to be on good
terms with him. We can't educate everybody at all times but we neither
need to be nasty about it. Whether we like it or not we are ambassadors
and we want people to be left with a "good" impression of blind people not
that we are all so touchy.”

Maurice Peret (Baltimore, Maryland, USA,

Computer Technology Instructor

Blind Industries and Services of Maryland

e-mail: genius@bcpl.net)

**43. “I would like to reply to a few of you but mainly to response 39. I am a sighted person. I joined this list to "hopefully learn". My husband is on his way to becoming totally blind. Now for my reply.

Some of you have spoken of "educating" us out there, and if the postman said something like this to you, some would give him an angry or sarcastic answer. If I was this postman, and you reacted in this way, I would instantly assume that you were always this angry and sarcastic and treat you as such. I loved the response that Janet Coleman had # 29. Just give the postman a quick answer (not sarcastic) and be done with it.

When I read response 39’s incident about the bus, getting paper towels but had difficulty with the Band-Aids, I would have been very angry if I offered to help you with the Band-Aids and you got angry with me for asking.

All us "sighted " people can only offer to help. So I wasn't the one being uneducated and rude, but it was you...If you were fumbling with it, perhaps you DID need help. The problem is not that I offered, but you refusing, and if you get mad, don't blame me for offering. Next time somebody may need help and I will think twice before offering. Looks like you gave up trying to open it, which means you really did need help, but don't know how to accept it.

Looks like to me you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
If I see anyone who needs help, I hopefully will stop and help them. All of us want to be self sufficient and independent but don't confuse an offer of help as a threat to either. It is simply an offer to help, sighted or blind. So what if the Postman Sea’s you and asks you if you should be doing that, just say you enjoy doing it and go on. But if you get disoriented at a street corner and get knocked over and cannot find your way, are you going to ask for help? What if you look like you need help and I ask, are you going to get mad at me?
I also know that the "handicapped" get the short end of the stick. But to blame the sighted for helping or not helping is driving us crazy as well. You expect every person you meet to know how to treat you, how to talk to you, how to behave around you. Get realistic, we are all individuals, and everyone has their own ideas on how they want to be treated, handicapped or not.”

Renee Tucker (Huntsville, Arkansas, USA)

FROM ME: “Hummm, guess I too have made a few folks angry in the past. Sorry about that; later it does make me a bit sad, repentant and with an inner promise to not let it happen again.”

**44. “In response to the thought provoker on pruning rose bushes, many chores
are painful but the old saying of, "No pain; no gain" seems appropriate. It is
always easier to do nothing or either let someone else do it. I never amaze at
the responses to changing a baby's diaper to simply cooking a meal. Sure there
are numerous times when we blind ones receive a cut, burn, or bump. The wisest
thing my father said to me was, "Some people live and learn. Some people just
live." I have always wanted to be included in with the "living and learning"
category. I particularly would like to hear from Joshua Smith with the Blind
List who responded to this in that I am employed as a paralegal. The world is
filled with so many who are blind with sight when issues about the blind are
brought to their attention. The blind seem to have more insight any day.
Smiles to all!”

Deborah Hill (Dewy Rose, Georgia, USA)

**45. “It is a difficult thing to respond to someone who has a certain mind set. As a social worker, I have learned to answer the same way in these situations. "Thank you for your concern, but I am making this choice." Few people argue with me if I acknowledge their honest concern.”

Marcia Beare (Martin, Michigan, USA)

**46. “I am a sighted violin teacher who has been reading the Thought Provokers
for a number of months. The interest stems from an experience teaching a
young child who is blind. My goals are to learn about Visually Impaired
people and their experience so that I can understand my student better,
and to learn what to do and not to do while with her.

I have learned allot by being with my student over the past three years. I
have come to appreciate first and foremost that she is a person just like
me: she has personality, feelings, a sense of humor, imagination, is
bright and creative. She is not some kind of a strange monster. I can see
how independent and capable she is in daily life. I don't have any doubts
that she will be able to do things, and negotiate her way around the
studio. I can also see that daily life is not always an easy bed of
roses. There are many trials, tribulations, and frustrations.

I can not speak for other sighted people, only for myself. Due to my own
personality, I am not apt to be forward enough to comment on what a
visually impaired person might be doing nor would I easily offer "help".
But inside, I do wonder what would be the appropriate thing to do or say
as well as what would not be right. For me, when with someone who has any
disability or impairment, I would be grateful for a clue given in a
kind, gentle manner. If someone were to make a nasty comment in a
stinging tone, it would set me in the wrong direction of learning and

I don't know what percentage of sighted people say and do stupid,
insensitive things regarding visually impaired people. I would think that
educating sighted people in a nice manner might be the best thing most of
the time.”

Sheryl Zagoria (USA)

**47. “In regard to the current provoker. A lot depends on one's attitude when
responding to comments.

I would have just quipped back, "yep you're right. Too hot for anyone to be
out here doing this". He probably just thought he was showing concern, not
realizing blind do yard work just like everyone else! Next time he saw the
person, he probably wouldn't even give it a thought!

Again, it depends on attitude. Last week a friend and I went to happy hour
at a local restaurant. Five people were sitting at the next table. After a
while, one of the people noticed my dark glasses, and made this comment: "
what ya trying to do, be like those folks with the dogs and sticks?" Well, I
realized he was three sheets to the wind, and that he really didn't know
what my circumstance was. So I just reached down, grabbed my cane, and
handed it to him and said " You mean like this?" There was a collective gasp
from his table and he about fell out on the floor. My friend and I were
laughing so hard. Not at them, but at the response. Anyway, it broke the
ice, and we all had a great conversation. They asked questions, we
answered, and I left feeling like a few more people had learned
something....myself included.

It's all in one's attitude.”

Jimmie ray (BlindLaw listserv)

FROM ME: “We all know that attitude is a key factor in the status of acceptance, right. Well, guess we know it also is a key factor in the tolerance level of any and all of us, too, right?”

**48. “It strikes me that we have all had many versions of this experience. My
wife who is blind does gardening and yard work; I am blind and do not. We
both work for the same nonprofit. I told my office mate that my wife spent
much of the weekend working in the yard. She was very surprised and asked
how Terri could manage such a task. I was surprised to receive this
question, but explained that we have two whisky barrels containing plants,
and that we have constructed other borders for organizing the yard. I
explained that it is not much different from anyone's garden, and that Terri
can distinguish between desired plants and weeds by touch. My coworker was
amazed. I might have made a more flippant comment, but she was new to our
agency and sharing my office.

A couple weeks after that incident, we had a pot luck dinner. Terri and I
both brought items to pass. One of the supervisors asked if anyone helped
us in the kitchen. We were stunned but again answered the questions without
flippancy. Perhaps we should have answered differently. I am not sure.
Our agency, and this person are highly respected in our community for
helping foster independence of the disabled people served. The reputation
of the person and of the agency are both well deserved; however, as a blind
person and federationist, I was shocked that such a person would ask such a
question. There is something of an explanation. Our agency works primarily
with quads. If a person has little if any movement, he/she will need
someone to cook, to feed him/her and almost anything else many blind folks
take for granted. Those are a couple recent experiences I've had on this

Jimmie, It seems to me that your answer to Robert's question, and your
response in the restaurant are very different. It is likely that each was
appropriate to the circumstances in which it occurred. To say, "yes, it is
hot", and continue working is not a confrontational response. To show the
cane in the bar is a bit more confrontational. I think it was appropriate,
and the way things turned out for you proved it was in fact appropriate. I
guess I am agreeing with you that a lot depends upon your attitude at the
time and on the setting.”

Jim McCarthy (BlindLaw listserv)

**49. “I especially want to respond to message 30 from Kathy. I absolutely
agree there should be more communication between blind people about
how to do different tasks. But, a sighted person should not question
whether a blind person could do something when he's actually doing it
at the time. If the postman said, "how do you do that", there would be
no problem. In fact, teaching sighted people how we do things is the
best way to convince them we are capable. The main reason they think
we're not capable is that they can't do many things with their eyes
closed. They figure we must be the same as they are. But they forget
that we have had time to develop alternative ways to do things. If we
just tell them "blind people can do anything anyone else can do", it
sounds good, but it's vague. If we show them how we do things, they
learn that we are capable in a very specific and personal way.”

FROM ME: “ Doesn’t this guy make the greatest point when he says, “The main reason they think
we're not capable is that they can't do many things with their eyes
closed.” David also placed this next message in a listserv.”

“It is difficult to come up with something appropriate to say at such a
moment. I think I would have handed him the trimmers and said, "you're
right, you do it". This way I wouldn't really have insulted him, but
would achieve the desired result. Either he would feel silly for
making that statement. Or better yet, though highly unlikely, he would
actually have been stupid enough to do the work for me. Either way I

David Scrimenti (Blindfam listserv)

**50. “Sometimes it's hard not to come back with a flip reply to something
like that. However, depending on the situation, it is usually a good
idea to be pleasant and to attempt to educate rather than to be rude.

No matter how we hate it, we are always on display and should be
pleasant and courteous at all times.

Sometimes it's a pain, especially when we aren't feeling well, or we
are thinking of other things. But the more we educate, the better it

Ann K. Parsons (Blindfam listserv, USA)

**51. “I think we, as a whole, have to listen carefully to exactly what is being
said. In the provoker, the postman says, "You shouldn't HAVE to do that."
To me that is being sympathetic. Now if he had said, "You shouldn't do
that," I feel it would then be questioning the person's ability. Do we tend
to be on the defensive and thus hear only what we expect the person to say?”

Christine Smyth (RPlist)

FROM ME: “Good thought here. Do we some times hear only what we want/expect to hear? Are we so punchy from being questioned so often that we are expecting that sort of thing?”

**52. “ The next question is... what did you say?”

FROM ME: “Then on a second date she wrote-“

“I guess I would have responded with a smile, "Are you offering to do it for
me? Thanks anyway but I prefer to prune my own bushes.”

Holly Malone (RPlist)

**53. “This is an interesting thought provoker. I don't have a green thumb
by far, but I've helped to pull the weeds out of a garden. Never have I
had the opportunity to trim rose bushes because out here in Wyoming, it is
too dry for this kind of thing. However, as some of you know I have partial
sight and growing up in a ranch environment, I'd have to help to bail hay
or set up fences. Some of my family members have often felt that it was
wrong to "make" my youngest sister and me do this kind of work because of
our limited vision.
Like the person in this particular case, I've also been guilty of
daydreaming and was surprised by those family members who have also said
that "You shouldn't have to do that." I don't like to be scared out of my
wits in the first place, and sometimes the recovery time from these scares
tend to take a lot more time than the task itself. To tell you all the
truth, I didn't know what to say because I was so surprised by this statement.”

Bonnie Ainsworth (Blindfam listserv, Laramie, Wyoming, USA)

**54. “At least the rose trimmer wanted to get his/her wits
before answering. Some people just don't think, do

If I get angry, I don't always think. Although I'm
sighted, I do have osteoporosis and osteoarthritis,
and my job (fundraising and accepting donations)
sometimes requires me to carry heavy loads from car
to office, if there are no men around to help (they
evaporate when a car pulls up). Last month one of
the men stood with hands on hips watching me dragging
a pile of stuff I couldn't lift. Finally he asked if
I should be doing that, and I was mad enough to spit
when I replied, "Well there don't seem to be any men
around to help!”

Carolyn Gold (RPlist, Clearwater, Florida, US)

**55. “My problem is that when I need help. No one is around! Seriously, many people
don't know how to approach someone struggling with things. 'Give me a hand'
is always prudent when you're not sure you can handle a task. And vice-versa.
Asking 'do you need a hand with that?" is the best way. Condescending
attitudes are always annoying. Cheers”

Annie Chiappetta (RPlist)

**56. “Annie, I like your suggestion. I never know how to ask for help, no
matter how simple, without feeling embarrassed. "Will you give me a
hand?" is now added to my vocabulary and seems like such a simple way to
request assistance without feeling degraded. I don't know if that is
the right word, but that is often how I feel.

Thanks for putting it into words.”

Velma Lodge (RPlist)

**57. “Just for the record:

1. Is the letter carrier the regular one on the route?

2. What does he know about the person's sight, and how does he know it?

3. Can the person actually see some of the hedge and his clippers, or does
he trim it without seeing it at all? Thank you.”

Joel Deutsch (RPlist)

**58. FROM ME: “Check this one out. Does this not fit our current topic?”

“I was wondering if you had any thoughts concerning dog guides. I work with a wonderful dog-named Utah. I would not trade him for ANYTHING. Unfortunately, when I am in public, stores, events, you have the idea, people often talk about me as if I couldn't hear. When someone says something directly to me, even if it is naive, I can respond to their concern. What about when they are not talking to me? I hear things such as, "That dog helps that lady see." Or "Those are such special dogs to take care of her like that." I end-up biting my tongue trying not to offend these well-meaning people. It does not seem to matter that I have an MSW in administration or raise show rabbits. It would appear that my dog has accomplished all of this. I do not want to sound as if I am complaining; however, I am wondering if others have these encounters. I would appreciate advice.”

Marcia Beare (Martin, Michigan, USA)

**59. “That's actually funny because I have had almost the same thing happen twice
just this past spring.

One time was when a friend of a friend was helping this friend move a
couch out of my house to his. This friend of his met me and had been
talking to me for about 30 minutes or so. I asked him if he wanted a beer
and he followed me in the house. I got it for him and he began asking me
about my dog. When I told him she was a retired guide dog he asked me if
I was blind what was I doing walking around. I had to snicker a little.
I try not to make people feel stupid but sometimes... you know.
I just told him that as long as my legs worked and the fridge was on the
inside of the house I would have to walk to get beer.

The other time was a bro-in-law's room mate and he told my husband I
shouldn't have to change my baby's dirty diaper because I am blind to
which I promptly handed the baby to him and said "Okay, you do it."

Maybe I am making too light of these things but I believe if you can't
laugh, you will cry.

Just my opinion”

Kim Estevez (RPlist)

**60. “I agree that in many instances, there is something in us which needs to be
changed. Through NFB, we've been educated to believe in our own
capabilities. We've been taught that we can and should be independent.
But, many times, people take that to mean that everyone else should
automatically know of our abilities and that we do compete on an equal
level with our sighted neighbors. That's just not true. While we've made
great strides over the past 50 or 60 years, we still have a lot of
education to do. This is probably best done as education on a one to one
basis; talking politely to that postman who comes up and makes a comment
like, "You shouldn't be doing that". If we respond by saying something
smart or sarcastic, we've just undone a lot of work that others have tried
to accomplish over the past generation. Maybe we, as blind people, have to
relearn that along with our demands for equality also comes the
responsibility of courteous treatment of our neighbors. Sure, we can
stand up for ourselves and speak for ourselves, but let's be sure that we
don't walk all over others, just because they don't know about blindness.
We're still a relatively small group of people, and sometimes it seems as
though the world is the NFB and those people we come into contact with.
But, it's much larger and not everyone knows what we know about blindness.”

Cynthia Handel (NFBtalk listserv)

**61. “Cynthia, I agree with your message. One thing further - before we get too
hot about what folks don't know about blindness, let us think a moment or
two about what we know about other people - are we familiar with inner city
speech and customs, do we know what to do when we talk with someone who has
CP and he tells us a joke and we don't understand it, do we find ourselves
standing behind a wheelchair and talking to its occupant - there are so
many different kinds of people with different value systems that I just
don't think we can, in good conscience, be that critical.”

Gary Wunder (Columbia, Missouri, USA,


**62. “Cynthia,
Bravo!! Very well put! You are totally right in that we, as blind persons,
we have a responsibility to educate people on a 1to1 basis as the situation
arises. We run the risk of being rude and mean to assume anything different!”

Ken Rodgers (NFBtalk listserv)

**63. “Taking into account our motto, "Changing What It Means To Be Blind," I
have this to say. I agree that we should educate the public in a
respectable manner, and make it a little lighthearted, if the atmosphere
is appropriate, such as a party.
Now let's take another look at this motto from our own perspective. Most
of us when we first walk through the doors of the NFB have preconceived
notions ourselves. We have been programmed by rehab, instructors,
parents, and friends. So before we go out and "save the world" from their
misguided attitudes about blindness, we should check our own out first.
We have all heard the biblical verse that states, "Before you attempt to
pull a splinter out of thy neighbors eye, pull the log out of yours
first." (Reenah paraphrase)

So let's look at our motives for wanting to educate the public, and our
own self-esteem. Do we want to sound trumpets and call attention to
ourselves via "education" which is sometimes nothing more than a major
scene? I believe someone mention Dr. Jernigan's speech about the nickels.
You do draw more flies with honey than vinegar friends.

Now how about you? How do you feel about being blind? I, to be honest,
still have some hard times coming to terms with it, even though it's been
three years now since my original "reality check." We have been advised
not to allow ourselves to be put on pedestals, but I have to admit, on
some days I have to boost my own ego, by letting someone do so. As a
matter of fact, that happened to me last Saturday night when I was in a
nightclub for the evening. Someone commented how "remarkable" I was as a
blind person to be able to come to a nightclub all by myself, and sit at
the bar to have a drink. My verbal responses were what the NFB has taught
me, but inside I was eating it up, because I needed to feel special that
day. Well, I say to myself, and others, if you wish to be put on a
pedestal, you must earn your right to be put there. Don't let people
place you there just because you are blind. Go do something that is
remarkable for anyone, such as become President, then you have the right
to be on that pedestal.

Now I did not imply that "accepting" blindness means that you should
settle for what you've got. Absolutely not! I was told once that even
having a negative self-esteem is a form of pride, which is one of the
seven deadly sins.

The main point here is for you to decide who you are as a blind person.
If you aren't sure, please don't go around and try to be something you're
not. You might end up doing those of us who do know who we are as blind
people more harm than good. So everybody that wants the world to know
that we want to be on a level playing field, please check your egos at
the door.”

Reenah Blackwell (NFBtalk listserv)

life, I felt that I had to say or do something to show people that though I
am blind, I still want to fit in with the crowd so to speak. I have learned
from my own experience and with the help of God, that I don't have to prove
anything to others. When I try to I end up not liking what I see in myself
and I learn that many people aren't really paying attention to me anyway.
So I have learned to accept the fact that I am who I am and if others can't
accept that I am blind or if they feel uncomfortable with me that isn't a
reflection on me.

I have been blind for at least 34 years of my life and I will only be 36
next month. I tried all the things like going out to clubs, hanging out
with sighted people who danced and went a lot of places but I didn't feel
comfortable and I rarely enjoyed myself because I was trying to be someone
other than me. When I stopped trying so hard to fit in, I found that I
could relax around others and if I choose to join in now its because I want
to and not because I have to prove that I am "normal". So, I am learning
how to accept myself and my blindness and I don't have to prove anything to

Anita Ogletree (NFBtalk listserv)

**65. “Anita:
I have gone and am still going through the adjustments of being blind,
and I have been blind 32 years, and I am 32.
I know the self-esteem crisis all too well. I wanted to be so blasted
"normal" that I even did what sighted people shouldn't even do--drove
drunk. Now how is that for wanting to fit in? I adopted the attitudes and
opinions of the friends I was with at the moment, like a chameleon. Now,
as I am sure it is for you, it is tough sometimes for me to figure out
where my friends, family, and instructors programmed tapes end, and I
So don't feel alone in your search for you own identity. There are many
of us still searching out there, old feelings and attitudes die hard.
Remember you didn't get all these program tapes in one day, so give
yourself a break.

A little personal experience humor. I know the fastest way on Earth to
clear a dance floor. I taught myself to do the "Electric Slide" using my
cane. I just learned the basic steps from a friend, and then put the cane
maneuvers in where I felt they would best benefit me. I figured I wanted
to dance one night when this song was popular, so out to the dance floor
I went, cane and all. I was with my Mom and her "snobby" bunch of friends
who really didn't consider me blind, and resented me embarrassing them by
using my cane. They almost fainted when I went to the dance floor, and one
of them caught up with me, and begged me not to do this, their
reputations would be ruined. I informed her that I wished to dance, just
like anyone else, I just happened to have a built in dance partner. Needless to say, the dance floor cleared rather quickly as I got on, and
began to dance. The only bad thing about it was that the DJ had to have
his field day with me. He made a comment to the effect of, if a blind
lady can do this dance, what's your excuse.
I heard later that my mother who's friend owned the nightclub had the
DJ told off about that. Although my mother does not accept my blindness,
when she's sees that her daughter is being personally attacked, she'll
give that person 'what for." She acts so proud as she tells her friends
that I do anything I want, doesn't matter if I'm blind. I know what the
real meaning of her actions are, but that's not important now.”

Reenah Blackwell (NFBtalk listserv)

**66. “I felt that I should try to respond to a few of the things that have been
said in this last update. I often tell folks that are new to blindness that
they are entering a period of transition, and that everyone that I know who
is blind, myself included, is still in this transition. It is a lot like
the transition from birth to adulthood. You begin being fearful and
dependent, lacking the skills necessary to make your own way in the world.
You struggle to learn the skills you will need to get on in the world, and
slowly learn to recognize the truth about your life, and put aside the
fiction and fantasy. As your skills and beliefs begin to come into their
own, you are determined to assert your independence and confront anyone that
dares to challenge your ability or need for self determination. Slowly
rebellion is replaced with quiet confidence and the recognition that we
haven't anything to prove, either to others or ourselves. Not everyone
discovers the truth, and not every one moves beyond rebellion, and all of us
have our moments when the sense of rebellion rises in response to an
unexpected challenge, but usually by the time we are celebrating our one
hundredth birthday we've pretty well got it right!

I know that a lot of sighted folks have a difficult time knowing what to do
when dealing with a blind person, that fact that most of them insist on
calling us "visually impaired" clearly shows their discomfort in these
situations. The truth about blind people is really not all that complex, it
is the same as it is for anyone else. Approach us as you would anyone else,
with the same expectations and level of concern that you would show someone
you would not perceive as having a disability. Just say "hello". If
someone appears to need help, ask if he or she would like some help. If the
person says no, then go on about your business, and it he or she says yes,
then ask what sort of help he or she wants. If the person bites your head
off, well it is that person's issue, not yours, and realize it has
absolutely nothing to do with blindness, just perhaps that individual's
feelings about his or her blindness at that point in time, or maybe he or
she just got some bad news from the I. R. S.”

Jeff Altman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**67. “FROM ME: This next response is in answer to #58 from Update 3.”

“For some information on the two persons with guide dogs. If you would like
to find a way to get your point across about a guide dog you could do what
I did. Ask for some assistance in making a video. As 1st vice president,
Lions, I found the many comments you were talking about. So, I suggested a
project of making a video of what a guide dog is and the things that you
should not do while the guide dog is working. It's been a lot of fun and
putting the final touch to it now. If the product comes out well. We are
then going to put it on PBS and suggest the other Lions in Maine to use it
as an educational tool. I can tell you it's a fun project and I'm sure you
can find an organization that will help you out.
President - Thorton Heights Lions.”

Gene Stone (Portland, Maine, USA)

**68. “After reading the short story and the responses, an interesting question
has come into my mind. If the postman had approached one of my sighted
neighbors, who was trimming her rose bushes, would he have said the same
thing? Probably not. He would have said something like "Hi! Is it hot
enough for you today?"

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, USA, abbie@wavecom.net)

**69. "I have previously responded and also reviewed other comments. I still feel we should respond in a positive way to the postman and as stated by others"
chill". We only live once blind or not. It is so much easier to smile than
frown. Smile as it costs you nothing so give that postman," hi and how
is your day going. Great roses don't you think." or " Not bad for a blind
person eh?" followed with a chuckle. With or without a disability including
blindness we should look on the bright side. I appreciate the chance as a
person who has been totally blind for about 15 years, to smile as tough as
it might be sometimes. I am 53 and when I was younger I said many times I
need an artificial tongue as I had bit my own so many times. However with
the help of Robert and this forum we can all educate ourselves first and
then " reach out and touch someone."
Yes, I still make rude comments to myself when I trip over something or
bang into a solid wall in my own home, but we all need to laugh and move
on. Life is not a bed of roses, but if we trim those roses, they, like us,
will bloom and be a better person. I thank all of you who take the time t
respond here. It is important to vent and discuss our feelings. I listen to
this and practice this at my job as a Program coordinator at The
Independent Living Center of The Hudson Valley.
Let’s continue on a positive note and share our education. I am blind and
proud, nobody can take that away. I appreciate my sighted family and blind
friends, my closest is Ockham, a tall sometimes stubborn but smart Guide
Have a great day all.”

Lee A. Stone (Hudson, New York, USA)

**70. “There is one other thing I wanted to mention, and that is the reaction we
sometimes have to help that we don't ask for. First of all let me say that
there is a difference between offering help and imposing help. When help is
imposed upon someone, it means that the person helping has decided that the
person being helped does not have the ability to decide whether help is
necessary or not. Of course, when the person being helped has both the
ability to complete the task at hand without help, and the judgement to know
that help isn't needed, then there is a strong probability that that person
will not accept this help being pushed at him or her. How the person
responds to this situation depends on both the person's experience and the
situation itself. No matter how the individual chooses to respond, he or
she is going to be dealing with some strong emotions, and this can get in
the way of both dealing with the issue and also afterward when he or she
returns to completing the task. I know in my own case I have had many
situations where someone, well meaning, has grabbed my arm as I am preparing
to cross a busy street, and in most cases I have politely refused the
assistance, but returning to the job of crossing the street, which should
not have been anything major, somehow has become much more tense and
difficult. It is a self imposed demand to perform at the highest level of
skill, just to prove to yourself and the overly helpful folks that might be
watching that you can do it just fine without anyone's help. So if the
blind guy you ask about helping is less than polite, it could be that he or
she just got through dealing with someone that didn't bother to ask first.”

Jeff Altman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**71. “I would of said to the postman "why not?" When I hear statements from
people like this one I'm always interested in why they feel this way. It
would be tempting to hand him the clippers. I hate trimming roses.”

Charlie Web

**72. “My name is Howard Stanley, I heard about your thought provoker I fill that
people really do not know that blind folks have the same chance of
during what they would like to do. I found that when crossing streets sight
people think we have no ability to even cross the street. I sometimes
challenge those that think I can not do this to walk with me.”

Howard Stanley

**73. "It was interesting to read the
responses. Having once been sighted and remembering about eye contact and
body language, there are many ways the postman provoker could have gone. 1,
I enjoy doing this. 2. I intend to give it up as soon as I hit the lottery.
3. Is that an offer of help? Essentially, we should think of ways to be
regular people to others if that is how we want others to treat us.

Jim Antonacci (Pennsylvania, USA)

**74. "I think that whether you're blind or not, you should have to do things for yourself. I have people who try to baby me and it aggravates me.”

**75. "It sounds like this postman guy is very ignorant and thinks that somehow
the blind should not have normal responsibilities. What does he expect,
that the poor blind person gets someone else to trim his bushes or what?
Have an absolutely wonderful day!"

Arielle (NABS/NFB)
**76. " In response to this thought provoker, I thought that the postman was very well-meaning. I don't think that he meant any harm or offense to the blind
person trimming their rosebush. Actually, I think that it was just the postman's off-the-top-of-his-head way to start a casual conversation with someone.
Perhaps, the postman was bored with his job that day because he loves to talk to people but had not encountered anybody on his route to talk to until
he saw one of the people on his route who happened to be blind. As I noticed in many of the responses, many seemed very quick to make judgments and resort
to wanting to make some kind of sarcastic remark to the postman. I'm not saying that I've done my share, but I have learned over the years that making sarcastic remarks only results in alienating people, whether sighted or blind, from you and, thus, closing the door to a friendship that could have developed over time. I'm happy to see, though, that there were responses that focused more on educating, carrying on a casual conversation, and guarding against
alienating people.

While I've never had people come up to me to tell me that I shouldn't be out alone on the street or be out working in my yard alone, I have had people tell me that, because I'm blind, I shouldn't be smoking because I might burn myself or might start a fire. I just kindly tell them that, yes, I have burned
myself but I pull through it like everyone else does. Yes, people who have told me that I shouldn't smoke because I'm blind are right in that smoking is a health hazard. Among the many things people have asked me about in how I do such and such, I have also had people ask me how I know how to light my cigarette without burning myself and how I know whether the cigarette is lit or not. Like with many other tasks, assuming that the person is well-meaning
and really wants to know so that they can understand more, I demonstrate by actually doing the task--lighting my cigarette, etc. Yes, even in the process of demonstrating, I have run into problems where I might need help and that person observing asking whether or not I need help, or offering their helping
hand in which I accept it. It's not because I couldn't do it myself. Rather, it's my way of telling them that no matter blind or sighted, everyone needs help from time to time with simple and difficult tasks. Accepting help like this also tells the person that there's nothing wrong with offering help. Sure, they may offer the same kind of help to another blind person and be rejected, but, at least they know that, if they have already had an encounter with me, not all blind people are too proud as the sighted person might have otherwise presumed even if it may not have meant to be reported to be such
by that person who rejected the help."

Linda (USA)

**77. I think there is definitely a lot of this in the world. I for one have constantly been doubted by my state VR agency and it just drives me nuts! My new
counselor picked me up at my house a couple of months ago, to go to an agency and meet with an employment counselor. This was the Epilepsy Foundation of
Greater Chicago and I do not have epilepsy. This employment counselor told us that I would be their only blind client, if in fact I choose to work with
her. She did mention that she has a bit of background in working with the blindness population, but she also told us that she was the only employment counselor
there. Mind you this decision to go to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago was made solely by my VR agency, and I didn't have anything at all to
do with it. My counselor just called me one day and told me that there was this employment agency that they thought would be good for me. Like I said I
don't have epilepsy, and I have never had a seizure in my life. As a matter of fact I know very little about seizures, and I don't think I'd be comfortable
being in charge of someone who had one. This in no way means I am unsympathetic to those who have seizures, or who have at one time or another during their
life. And some of these people were my friends, or are still friends of mine.
I have attempted to tell my counselors about agencies that I've either heard a lot about because either I have friends who have gone through those agencies
and been successfully placed, or in some cases agencies where friends are employed. My suggestions have been ignored though.
I think it is rather insulting, to say the least, when people make decisions for us because they don't think we're capable of making our own decisions.
There are acceptions to this rule, however. For example, sometimes when at a restaurant someone will tell the server what I want because we're in a rush
and the friend or family member isn't really thinking about handing that responsibility over to me. I have always been satisfied when this happens. Mostly
though, when the server gets to me and he or she doesn't automatically ask me for my order, someone at my table verbally cues me that it is my turn to
order. I then tell the server what I want. But when someone tells me what employment agency I should work with and what agency I should stay away from,
without giving me any good reason for doing so, I really get angry. My whole point in this diatribe is that yes I do get offended when somebody doubts
my ability.

Jake Joehl, Chicago