Blindness And Rudeness


Blindness And Rudeness

     “I need to have this done now! I called earlier and spoke to a supervisor! I understood him to say you would have it ready!” said the blind man who was several places in line in front of me at the airport ticket counter. I had noticed him arriving by taxi as my wife had dropped me off at the front of the terminal building. I had been observing him; he was a good cane traveler, had taking responsibility for his own luggage and found his own way to the correct counter. However, his behavior was brisk to rude starting with the driver of the taxi, the Red Cap at the terminal entrance, a couple of by-standers he had asked directions of and now here at the counter.

     “Just one moment you have a confirmation number?” said the clerk.

     “If it is necessary to give it to you people again, then yes.” answered the blind man. He opened up a briefcase and extracted a note taker and quickly read it off from a Braille display.

     “Sir. All is well, here is your ticket. would you like assistance to find a seat?” said the clerk.

     “No. And I don’t want pre-boarding either.” said the blind man and tapped his way toward the seating area. I don’t think he heard the people in line back at the counter making negative comments about his behavior, nor would he have cared.

     Days later back at home, I told my wife about my trip and highlighted the blind man I had observed.

     “Yeah, I remember him. He dressed well, was tall and slim and looked good. I wondered if he was employed, like on a business trip?”

     “Well, he could have been, his blindness skills appeared to be strong and he showed signs of intelligence. But the overall picture here...I wondered, just how successful was he?”

     “There is something about that. Remember Mike, the guy with all the blindisms and permanently wrinkled clothes? I saw him yesterday and he’s still looking for the right job.”

     “Yeah, a nice guy. But...there is a key here, something that has to be there for acceptance, for success...what is it with this picture?”


e-mail responses to

**1. I think success requires a wide variety of things. First blindisms are yes natural, and if you are in company who is blind, they are not noticed, but they absolutely freak out the sighted public. Each of our unconscious behavior have interpretations attached to them, such, as the looking up and away, shows disinterest. it is as if you are saying, "I am not interested in hearing what you have to say, forget it" The sighted public is used to what they see as normal. A rocking blind person, scares them, just like a man showing up for a office job in black leather, with a dog collar around his neck and pink spikes in his hair. it is strange, and makes the sighted public very nervous. So what to do about it. There isn't truly much you can do on your own. A lot of people who have blindisms don't even know it, unless they have been told. There is a student here at my college, who... has some very pronounced blindisms. The other students, rather than telling
him because "It would hurt his feelings" come to us and ask questions of
why. We tell them to tell him the truth, that what he is doing isn't acceptable in the real world. Wouldn't it be better for his dorm mates to tell him that his rocking or eye poking, or way of walking looks strange, rather than a employer, who has decided instantly that they aren't worth having as employees. The fact of the matter is, we live in a sighted world, and to be successful you have to act like you are sighted. This does not mean hiding your cane, and walking around like you are drunk, or not getting a guide dog, but it means walking with head up and standing tall, wearing neat clothes, bathing, and wearing makeup and jewelry and looking confident. It means looking at people when you talk to them, even if you can't see them. it is making eye contact even if you can't see them. These are things that the sighted public does everyday unconscientiously, and we as blind people, should try to imitate these behaviors. On the other hand, no one, sighted or blind like a S.O.B. no matter how slick he is dressed and how wealthy he is. Yes he may be employed, but there is more to life than being employed. What about friendships, about a married life or a relationship? It is my experience, that people that are mean to those around them, are usually very alone after work.
So what wee need is Mike, who is a nice guy, good worker, to get rid of his blindisms, which will take time and dedication on his part, and to learn how
to iron, and he will have it. Confidence in movement and attitude, is great, but Cockiness, which our first blind friend exhibits is not popular in any situation. I have also found, that being nice to people especially those in service jobs, like cab driver, and the red cap, remember who you are and are more than willing to give you a helping hand when you need it the next time. My roommate and I always joked that the delivery people at one of the local restaurants would fight over taking our order. We always tipped well, and you know what, we always got really nice, hot food really fast service. Other people in our dorm don't tip at all, and they always get their food cold, and usually an hour after they order it. is this bribery, nope, I don't think so, but will stay a high tipper, because I get good service that way, and when I run across the same person in town when he
is off duty, he remembers us, and is usually very willing to give directions
or other assistance.
I usually post board on planes as I have a guide dog, and usually try for
an aisle seat, so that I have leg room and he can spill out into the aisle
when it isn't being used.
Just my humble opinion but my parents would always correct me when I would
do things that weren't normal. And I am grateful for that training.. I am also grateful for friends that will say, "Shelley, the waiter is to your right," so that I can make eye contact. I always try to look at the
waiter, and you know what I don't usually get "And what will she have?"

Shelley L. Rhodes, USA

**2. Well, I had to laugh a little at this one, Robert!
As I don't think it only belongs to the "Blind" person. this can be the sighted person or any person.
Yet, I think in all the different jobs I've held. From being a sighted person as a Second cook at the State University of Delhi Tech, Working in the woods
as a chopper; with my father-in-law. To going blind and in the process working at the Maine Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. As a laborer and
then supervisor. Then, moving from there to college and then back to work at AAA.
In all cases I think it was the desire to work, containing the skills to do the job, communication skills and working together as a team. Oh, yes, the new
thing being, politically correct. Though, sometimes I have to say this gets me into trouble. As I like speaking from the heart.
In all cases of each job. It was learning how to work with others developing a team to work smoothly and being able to communicate effectively. This all
is very important at my job, now. As with dealing with so many different cultures, languages, personalities, anger, frustration and fear. One has to know
how to communicate effectively and in a calm voice. then, being able to work with everyone else in the large rooms divided by small cubical. So, many things
going on at one time and to concentrate on your job. Especially when you are having Jaws in one ear, customer in the other, talking in the mike to them
and typing on the computer. Rudeness is not acceptable and supervisors teach you how to handle most things that will pop up. again, working as a team.
There is no time to worry if one is blind or some type of disability. (as that is taken care of in training)
I think the way someone dresses at work speaks volumes and a person needs to know how to dress properly. To which, I can't speak about a totally blind person
from birth or starting out at work later in life. I've been doing different jobs since late teens. So, proper dress is and was common knowledge.
As for the remarks being made about the person getting out of the cab, in line for the ticket and then getting the ticket. During my time of adopting my
son Norman. I did a lot of flying and car rentals with a driver. Being this is a set format, I, am not sure what really was running through the guys mind.
Maybe he was carrying a grudge or just a bad start in the day. As we don't even know what time of the day he was traveling.
yet, sometimes it can be really frustrating when, you, have made all of the schedules out in advance, arrangements for the tickets through a agency or yourself.
Proper handling about your luggage. then, to stand in line and wait!! It can take a toll on you!! yet, this is not a blind or handicap thing. It is across
the board. In my travels from Portland, Me. to Atlanta, Georgia. I would always try to get a good night sleep so I can have a good smile on my face. Being
in a good mood to deal with all of the frustration of travel. Greeting the customer desk, with the smile and good attitude. As I find that gets you further.
The down side, I don't like the search, yet, understand. though I have to say this is where I really have to control my patience! Especially, if the flights
are running behind each other.
It is my personal opinion that in travel. If one is willing to talk and communicate effectively what he or she is looking for or need to do. there is no
need for the odd tone in ones voice. Even to the point of snapping off the persons voice that is offering the service. As, for the most part that is uncalled
I remember one time that they noted "Mr. Stone if you would like to board early with your guide dog, you can." I said, sure why not! Has nothing to do with
me being blind as far as I am concerned. For me it makes it easier with a guide dog. Instead of dealing with the large crowd trying to get on the plane
at one time!! Yet, one time, noted, I was booked for the bubble, seat. I got there and two people were sitting in the seat. I stood there and waited. "Is
there a problem?" "yes, I believe this is my seat and the area for my guide dog." As I smiled to the attendant. They ask if I would take another seat?
I said ok and took another seat and gave Bowie the second seat beside me. (crowded/ small area) the attendant said that you can't do that, Mr. Stone. "Well,
you gave my seat away to someone else. to which, I paid for." the Captain came back and ask if there was a problem? I noted, " sir, as you can see there
is little room for my dog on the floor. You can see he is in harness and still working. I paid as you can see by the tickets for the double bubble seats.
they were given away. You can see that I made the arrangements in advance. Your suggestions are?" To my surprise in being nice and communicating effectively.
I was moved to first class and no additional cost, to me.
All in all with this subject Robert! You rock! and I think this is not just a blind issue.. It is across the board and will be interested in what people
have to say. As it has been my experience, in the last three years. "You owe me and I am..." Which whether one is handicap or disabled in some form or
normal what ever that is. that won't get you, far!!

Gene Stone Portland, Maine USA

**3. The answer to this riddle is childishly simple. Blind people are no different than the sighted. If you are a prick and don't mind walking on people, you'll be successful. If you are a push-over, you'll get left behind. Here's hoping that we all learn to be a bit meaner in this life so we can make more money. Bottoms up!

Ryan Osentowski Lincoln, Kentucky USA

**4. I do not believe the blind man at the airport was overly rude, as bystanders portrayed in the Provoker. I do know that some of the sighted, by no means all of them, and some of the blind as well, have a conception that the blind are just not supposed to exert themselves, or to do well. During the 1975-76 academic year, I studied in seminary. In my class, I was one of the best New Testament Greek students. I tell you, it was tough as nails, but I had the books in Braille; not only the grammar we were using, but also my own purchased grammar, a very small lexicon, and a Greek New Testament, which I still have and use. But during that year, my fellow students and staff circulated rumors about me, which went from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Denver, Colorado, that because of my blindness, I could not pastor. In summary, the presbyters in the Reformed Presbyterian Church's Midwest Presbytery believed them; and it was my only year of seminary.

For the past couple months I have been taking Greek again: A pastor-friend in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Westminster, Colorado, who was my roommate in seminary, is teaching the class to several in his congregation; he declined my offer to help teach the class, which I could have done by telephone. For each of the classes, that speakerphone has cut out on me twice or sometimes three times a minute, for five seconds a time, and I could do nothing about it. At times I could not hear the class well, but I had the complete text in front of me, whereas all the other students had were handouts from that text,
which were, I will acknowledge, prepared very well. The only thing is, Bob did not go over Greek accenting at all, which is very important, and I know that all too well.

In Greek Braille, you don't write the acute, grave, and circumflex accents over accented letters and breathing marks. You cannot do that. For example: the letter alpha is dot 1; acute alpha is dots 3-4-5; grave alpha is dots 1-2-3-5-6; circumflex alpha is dots 1-6.

Oh, sure, I make mistakes. in the exercises for the previous lesson which we went over in class yesterday, on articles and adjectives, I several times used plural feminine accusative articles, when they should have been plural neuter accusative. I was listening to Royals and Cubs games while doing the exercises, before e-mailing them; and I would do the same again. But we're going to have our final exam August 17; and I will tell you this: My goal is to do the very best in the class, and I think I will, and I am studying accordingly.

So if you think I am going to sit quietly ...... and behave myself ...... like a good little blind boy, you have got another think coming! That is just not me! If it were, I would be denying other people and the world my attributes. And I don't think any of you should deny your attributes to others, either: whether you are blind or sighted, boy or girl, Reformed or Rebellious, conservative or liberal. Early in 2003, I debated a local friend on whether or not the Bible prohibits women from pasturing. He thinks it does, based on, in some cases, masculine pronouns which do not appear in passages in the original Biblical languages. I believe the Scriptures permit women to pastor, based on examination of passages from the Greek New Testament. If Kansas City, Missouri's Lane Avenue Christian Reformed Church knew in late 1996 that I believe what I do now, they would have excommunicated me before leaving the CRC. I mean, I do not mind making people mad at me. Why should I? I would find it very rewarding to leave the class as the best student. Why shouldn't I?

Jeff Frye Overland Park, Kansas USA

**5. Well, the nasty and rude but well-dressed guy is kind of proving his success - he's showing that a blind person can be just as obnoxious as a sighted person - and there are way too many of both. The nice but rumpled guy on the other hand had best be nice enough to get some additional training because the sighted people don't want poorly dressed and weirdly behaving people especially if they're blind people. This is weird only in this sense - I recently conducted several job interviews. All of the applicants were sighted, but some behaved and dressed very badly. Unbelievable. I believe we should all be ready to receive help and additional training if needed.

kat Guam USA

**6. It is clear we have two blind people to consider here, neither of whom have good social skills it seems. One has to wonder how the narrator would be familiar with the term "blindisms," and as readers we have to wonder what he means by this. As hard as it is for a blind person to get a job, I am skeptical that the rude individual would have so much luck as the narrator credits him. I think good social skills are absolutely essential for blind people to break the barrier of ignorance and discrimination encountered in the workplace. I wish it weren't so, as it feels as if we must be so much more than the sum of our raw skills and abilities, that we almost have to be one of those to whom people say, "I almost forget you are blind," in order to get a job.

What comes to my mind when reading this thought provoker, however, is the issue of public images of blindness, and how our own personal behavior is either constricted or shaped by this issue. In other words, can it be simply that this guy in the airport is having a bad day? Is he not allowed to lose his cool once and a while, especially while traveling, which can make the most even-tempered person come undone? There are certainly days when it seems
that I must endure an endless run of indignities and dumb questions, and yet I am required to always be amiable and easy-going. This is the "nice guy disabled person" syndrome. In other words, disabled people, blind or otherwise, are expected by the general public to inspire the world with their wit and charm and disarming humor. A blind guy is not allowed to get mad, curse at the occasional stupidity of the universe, but rather must remain pleasant and cheerful at all times. This conundrum often comes to mind after some oaf has tripped over my cane and snapped it in half, and I am supposed to smile as he hands me the two pieces and mumbles a lame apology.
Yet there is no question that with a low incidence disability such as blindness that we are likely to be the only blind guy in the community, and our behavior impacts the perceptions that the general public may construct about the character of blind people, rightly or wrongly. On one hand I am inclined to say to hell with what others think of me or blind people in general. However, I cannot be some blithely dismissive of the broader impact such an attitude may have on the status of the blind in our society. We have the right to exercise ourselves according to the personalities we possess, but we cannot be ignorant or indifferent to the consequences of our actions.

Brian Miller Iowa City, Iowa

FROM ME: How many of you also feel the blind and disabled in general have to be more civil an/or even tempered than the average person? Like this gentleman is suggesting in his reference to “...nice guy disabled person" syndrome...? Why?

**7. I must admit that when I first read this, I thought: Okay, another rude blind guy scenario. Can't we do better than that?"
But after thinking it over on my wife's suggestion that maybe it wasn't so simple as that, I come to several thoughts:

(1) While we don't know much about this man, it is probable to highly likely that he is employed and, probably, a success in his endeavors. It sounds to me as though he's a businessman or executive-type. Possibly he's an attorney or accountant or financial analyst, whatever. Maybe he has a significant position in his company and/or other organization and, as I can truly attest being a government employee who has to constantly worry about deadlines and getting everything kind of sorta correct after a fashion, he's probably harried and needed something done yesterday, not this minute, but now, damn it! As such, it didn't get done. There may be consequences for him and/or his company, possibly putting his employment in jeopardy (I'm assuming the worst possible case here). Can we fault anyone for being a bit brisk under the circumstances if we knew the whole truth? Mind, we shouldn't be rude if we can
help it, but neither should it be assumed that this is a permanent characteristic of this person as I admittedly first assumed.
Point: We're all off our mark on occasion and as long as we don't make it a permanent flaw in our character, a little briskness and sometimes out-and-out rudeness may at times be excused depending on the facts and circumstances of any given case. There's no black or white in this situation, at least to me.

(2) We have to consider our own societal prejudices here. My first thoughts were admittedly based on what has become of late a stereotype--the rude blind person, probably bitter that he can't see, or permanently resentful that society won't ever accept him as an equal. But what if we took away one characteristic--namely his blindness? Now we have a well-dressed, slim and handsome individual being somewhat brisk and sometimes out-and-out rude to other people. We'd say to ourselves: "Look at that rude guy?" But since he's blind, I think we do tend to focus on that
particular facet of his being first. If we're blind we say: "Oh boy, here's another one making us look bad." And truth to tell, he probably is--at least as far as sighted people are concerned. So the blind don't want to be around him because he's focusing negatively on us. The sighted don't want to be around him and are likely to say to themselves that this is how mostly all blind people are.
So that point here is that in many situations, we focus too much on the one characteristic that stands out the most negatively given societal norms.

I think the blind are as likely to do this as the sighted.-

John D. Coveleski, New York, NY ( )

**8. I should begin this by saying that I am a sighted person, who does not personally know anyone who is blind. I know blind people on the Internet, and have seen blind people on television (although some have been sighted actors portraying blind people) and I have seen a few blind people in passing during the course of my life (some rude and pushy, some quiet and mannerly), but I've never been around a blind friend or colleague. Having said that, this thought provoker seems to have meaning on quite a few levels.

I know a lot of successful people, and am happy to say that only a few of them would be considered arrogant and overbearing like the guy at the airport, but they were that way at one time. That is how they got ahead.......they knew what it took to get the job done and they expected nothing less than 100% from themselves as well as from the people they did business with. Sometimes, I guess something's got to give in order to achieve one's goals, and I'm
sure that's how the blind traveler felt. He's probably had it up to his ears with people putting obstacles in his way, and having to always be the one to come up with the proper solutions, but that's no excuse for being rude to others. Chances are, he is too busy thinking and planning his next move to realize that he was rude in the first place. This does not sound like a "blindness" thing to me, this sounds like human nature. He needs a partner in life, maybe a good wife, to soften the edges and let him know how rude he's being, and I know how sexist that may sound, but, to those out there who have
a beloved "other" in your lives, haven't YOU changed for the better once you found someone who made you want to challenge yourself into being a better member of society? There will always be rude people out there demanding to be treated or serviced in the manner they feel they've become entitled to, and they serve a purpose. They make the rest of us realize that we're happy being ourselves, but that maybe we can be a little nicer in our own daily encounters. They make us feel not so jealous about their successes, because we don't want to have to make the tradeoff. They make us hope that if we
ever reach such a level of financial success, we'll remember their kind of behavior and never let ourselves fall into the same. I'm not sure where I heard this, but I've tried to live by it :
"Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it".

The point was not missed, however, pertaining to the blind friend of the couple who were discussing the rude blind man, about how is disheveled clothes and "blindisms" (whatever THAT means) have kept him from finding the right job. Like it or not, looks and appearances do matter in this world, and especially
when competing for a job. I've always been in the building business and have not had one single blind person ever apply for any of the jobs I've advertised to the general public, but perhaps there just aren't any blind carpenters or visually impaired roofers in my neighborhood. I do know that I've hired "long shots", figuring that if it didn't work out, they'd actually know it and want to quit before I had the chance to observe any inadequacies and feel the need to let them go. I must admit that whenever it came down to a choice between two qualified workers, I would go with the one who looked like he cared enough
about himself to make himself presentable. Again, that's the difference between knowing what it takes to succeed, caring to learn what it takes to succeed, and actually going out there and succeeding. This does not seem like an issue that is pertinent only to blind folks, for we all want the same thing, whether
we can see or not.

So, although the guy in the airport seemed as though he needed to attend a few sessions of charm school, he probably just did not care how he looked and sounded, and the other people in the airport would have talked about him behind his back whether he was blind or not because there's never an excuse for rudeness. If it weren't him, however, it would have been the next guy who had something to complain about, or the next person who attracted attention
to herself or himself. Sometimes, attracting attention to yourself is not such a bad thing, because those are the times you end up getting what you want. What's that expression about the squeaky wheel?

Before I end this, I just HAVE to ask, because I do not know.....what was meant when the author referred to "blindisms"? Can anyone who is blind please explain that term, or is that something that only sighted people observe? What are some examples of "blindisms"? It can't be anything so obvious as using a guide dog, or feeling with a cane, could it? Sorry, but I just don't know and would love to know what the word means. Thanks!

Karlishia Naples, Florida

**9. While sighted people go by visual attributes in judging others, people, regardless of sighted or blind, also go by how you carry yourself in your manners. There is a way to be assertive about your needs without being rude or aggressive. The blind man did not have to make such comments as "do I have to tell you again" when asked for the confirmation number on his ticket. He could have waited until someone let him know that people could pre-board could go on through to tell them, "no thank you. I'll just wait until everyone else boards. Thanks for the offer, though". As far as I'm concerned, he was very rude and snappy, and had quite an air of arrogance about him. If I was the clerk behind the counter, I would have refused to help him. I would not have cared how well-dressed or poorly dressed he was. Perhaps the clerk felt intimidated by his arrogant demeanor that she helped him just to prevent a fight from ensuing. Poor clerk!.

Linda Minnesota USA

**10. This guy sounds like many people I have met through the years whether they are sighted, short (one person in particular springs to mind), employed or not. I hope someone addresses his abrupt behavior sometime soon before he damages the opportunities for all blind people. He was abrupt that day, but is he always? Could this have been a bad day? Could his wife have made a negative comment about his blindness before he left on his trip?

Marcia Beare Michigan USA

**11. >

In short, being comfortable in one's own skin, without a chip on one's shoulder.

Lori Stayer Merrick, New York USA

**12. There's so much we don't know about this man. Yes, he *appears* to be successful, but is that really the case? Perhaps he's a young man, recently out of college, traveling around looking for employment. He's dressing for success, but if his attitude doesn't change, he's not likely to find it.

We don't know whether he's truly a successful person, just having a very bad day. Or, is he bitter and resentful of his blindness. Does he believe that the world owes him something, because he's blind, and his rudeness is an attempt to get the respect he believes he deserves?

It may be that after some time, maybe in a couple of years of constantly pounding the pavement, trying to find work with his bad attitude, that he'll become much like the other blind man; rumpled and not very motivated. The sad part, if that happens, is that he'll believe that the reason he has become unsuccessful is due to his blindness and that no one would give him a
chance. Yes, some of that could be true, but I would be very reluctant to
give anyone a chance, blind or sighted, with the poor attitude and chip on the shoulder that this young man possesses.

He may have an attitude that he can be a successful businessman, given the opportunity. But, some of those people in line and watching him enter the airport could be potential employers. His attitude has probably lost him, and any other blind person going for an interview with that employer, the opportunity to demonstrate his ability. It may have even cost him the opportunity for an interview.
A poor impression stays with people for a very long time and is hard to
overcome. This man probably never even considered the damage he was doing,
due to his attitude. He obviously didn't care that he was nasty and rude to
the cab driver, people who offered assistance, and the ticket person. I worked with customers in the consumer protection field for 28 years. It's certainly much easier to be helpful and pleasant to someone who is pleasant to you. Sighted people are nasty and rude, and people around them notice, sometimes. But, they notice a blind person acting poorly and remember it a lot longer, because of his blindness. No, we don't always need to be nice and let people take advantage of us. But, we don't have the right to be abusive and expect to get away with it, either.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, Pennsylvania USA

**13. In reading this story, several issues strike me, how should we, as blind people handle help when offered, and, of course, the one we are being asked to respond to, what does it take for a blind person to be successful.

This guy sounds like a bitter person, or would probably be classified that way by some people in the sighted world who expect us to be bitter or angry over the loss of our sight. In actuality, he might have been having a bad day, or have been in a hurry, or any number of things that happen to people every day, while we may find his acting out to be crass, and inexcusable, and many of us may feel that it is a bad reflection on us as blind people, it does
happen every day, throughout society by both successful and those who may be less successful.

In considering how we "should" respond when offered help, I've gone through a lot of changes in my lifetime. At some point I learned, somewhere, that I should always accept help regardless of whether I needed it or not because the next guy might need help and if I turned it down the person might be less likely to offer it in the future. At another point in my life I learned that I could refuse help in a gentle way without offending and that was the responsible thing to do. I also learned at some point that I have the right to feel and be pissed off from time to time and that I can express it if I want or need to.
Regarding the issue of "what it takes to be successful", Of course we need to be clean and well-dressed, and of course we need to be on our best behavior during the interview, everyone does because it's where you make your first impression. And, of course we need to be qualified for the position being offered.

Now, I may get a lot of disagreement on this but what I really think it takes to be successful in this world, as a blind person, especially outside of the field of blindness, is being fortunate to meet the right people willing to look beyond their fears and give us a chance. Throughout my career, I'm retired now, I found that I could bang my head against the wall and fight for what I believed in, or I could quietly look for people who I believed had a genuine interest in listening to me. Whether their interest was motivated by their need to get ahead or they had a genuine interest was hard to tell, and doesn't matter, I feel that I needed to look for people who would give me the opportunities I was looking for. I did quite well. This so-called docile approach did not mean that I didn't have the right to have a bad day, or to express myself. Anyone who knows me knows that's the farthest thing from the truth. But you have to choose your battles and the man in this story may have done a better job than we are aware of considering that we only know about a few minutes of his life. Yes, he could have put forth a better image, and yes, he could have tried harder to control whatever emotions he was feeling at the time and yes, at some point a continued attitude like that might interfere with the level of success he achieves. But, he has a right, and perhaps a need to express his feelings, and to live with whatever consequences he creates.

David Gordon Arizona USA

Check out my web page at

**14. he was obviously successful, but I think his attitude was significantly lacking. He was a bit rude.

Joseli Walters

**15. This is interesting. It has really had me thinking. On the one hand, I'm all for being well dressed, my wife even (jokingly) calls me "mister GQ" because I like to wear business casual, and enjoy wearing a suit and tie. If, however, you're dressed for success, but your attitude isn't, you won't be successful. So, if someone could dress like the first man, but be as nice as the second one, that would work better. The "blindisms", though, are a different matter. I get really hung up about things such as a blind person sticking their fingers in their eyes. It just isn't a social norm. So, if we could have the wardrobe of the first man described, the demeanor of the second, minus the blindisms, we're even doing better. I'm no expert on success, but like everyone else, I have my opinions. This is just what seems to work for me.

Alan Wheeler Oak Lawn, Illinois USA

**16. Darn, when will they get rid of the confusion about blindness terms out of our language. This man was probably visually impaired and couldn't read and he just needed some help from his cane, but he could see to get where he was going just fine. He had the kind of personality that put people off though. Wouldn't it be neat if we could invent one word for people in this category of being legally blind and needing aids rather than just blind or VIP as
some people call visually impaired? My dad often sees people who people call blind and tells me that they look like they can see quite a bit. This man probably is upset because he needs aids that blind people use and people will think he's blind, so he's bordering on being rude to people. He needs to act better if he wants to get a job. The other guy with blindisms and is dressed poorly needs to get a better image before he's ready to get work too.

Leslie Miller San Diego, California USA

**17. When I moved to Colorado Springs about five years ago, I took a computer class at a local community college that has an adaptive technology lab. I met a delightful blind woman with an infectious laugh and a smile in her voice. She had never had any training with computers and was very nervous. She had been a stay at home mom raising three active sighted boys to adulthood. Her skills were high. Sighted people who met her described her to me as attractive with a lovely smile. She dressed well too. She took a high pressure job at a bank and was expected to use equipment she had only had for a week. Needless to say the job didn't go well and she was let go. I encouraged her to come and hang out at my shop and taught her to ring up sales, process a credit card,
stock and price things and we worked together on her familiarity with her equipment. She was later hired over several people because of her personality and blindness skills in a retail setting and has been happily employed since that time. You need both the adaptive skills and the people ones too to be a successful job applicant. My friend got her first job on her charm, obvious intelligence and didn't make a success of it because her technical training was inadequate to be competitive. She succeeded the second time because she had had a chance to polish her job skills in a friendly relaxed manner that made it possible for her to not just get the job but to perform well. Her natural people skills made her an asset to her employer and her competence has brought her to a level that if and when a branch store is opened in a larger community, her manager wants her to manage it. I always make it a point to thank people who want to offer assistance even if I smilingly refuse the help, tip service people and try to find the humor in any situation that smacks of condescension or false assumptions being made about my abilities. Being prickly just makes people less willing to help someone else who actually may need the help. Someone who has to shove their abilities down people's throats to me is a person who is so busy proving how competent they are that they alienate others. I don't feel they are really comfortable with their blindness if they feel a need to prove how well they manage to the point of rudeness. Well meaning but unneeded assistance is just that, not an insult. If the man in your story had just smiled as he turned away and replied, "No thanks, I can manage. The others observing would be impressed with his confidence and skills without also being left with a negative impression of his hostile attitude.

DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega

**18. While many people believe that strong blindness skills, good appearance and grooming, and good intelligence are all that is needed for a blind person to be successful, this is not true. The Protestant work ethic embodies and conveys the attitude that one gets what one deserves in life. It appears that if a person lacks these attributes, he will not be successful. But contrary to what many blind people believe, if a blind person has good skills and good appearance, he will still be unsuccessful. The fact that 75% of working-age blind people are unemployed speaks for itself. And out of the 25% of those employed, many work in what I call the” blindness system". I am not saying that blind people should be rude, or unkempt. I don't like to see it, and it does not help "the image." But we are victims of discrimination, terrible unrelenting prejudice, and lowered expectations of sighted people. It seems
we have to be better than the average sighted person, and then, that's never good enough. What does one do when the general public does not want to be educated? I am aware that I have internalized all the negative stereotypes that sighted people have about us, and I over-compensate by being a "clean freak,"
How could some one so clean be so untidy?) dressing well, and all that, But it has not paid off. Is affirmative action the answer? But then, how is one assured that the blind employees can perform job tasks, duties and responsibilities and meet essential tasks and standards?

Lucia Marett USA

**19. So, if you're blind, you have to do 150% of the work. You have to know your job better than anyone else, you have to look like you're not blind, always facing sighted people and having a smile on your face. If you're having a bad day, don't let anyone know about it. If you don't need help and say so, you still may be thought rude for refusing it. And never, never, let them see you sweat. And REALLY never, never let them see you get angry.

If you're a woman, after you get home from work, you clean the house, help the kids, who only have one problem at a time, service your husband. When that's done, you go to the gym, get your botox injections, buy the latest dress-for-success clothes, go to your hairdresser, and put on make-up. When I worked at ARCO, there was a manager who carried a deodorant spray into the bathroom so everyone would think her doodoo doesn't stink.
In my job club, they told us that in an interview, only 20% had to do with
your qualifications, or even whom you know. The rest is all image. I'd
like to think of success as being who you are ... following your bliss ... doing what you want and getting paid for it. Will that ever happen in the few years that are left of my lifetime?

Abby Vincent Culver City, California USA

**20. The well dressed blind man seemed totally obnoxious. It's important that anyone, blind or sighted, treat others the way they would liked to be treated. Having good "blindness skills" is fine, but it's not the whole thing.
In my opinion, if someone is looking for a job, or anything else for that matter, they should be dressed appropriately and have good social
skills. It doesn't matter whether the person is blind or sighted.

Janet Ingber Queens, New York USA

**21. This was a very interesting Thought Provoker, and it did provoke some thought in me. I'm sighted, and I thought the well dressed blind man was rude and that the rumpled blind man needs to take more care of his appearance. I have several blind friends and they didn't become my friends because they were rude or uncaring about how they appeared to the sighted. They are educated and sophisticated and, except for their vision, they are exactly like my sighted friends.

In the USA you are judged by how you look. We live in a society that
places great emphasis on how one appears, that this is ludicrous and shallow, no one is arguing, but it is reality. My 86 year old mother
takes as great a care in her dress and make up now as she has done her
whole life.

If the issue is assertiveness on the part of the well dressed blind man, then I agree the blind have the same privilege as the sighted in this regard, but rudeness to a working class person is wrong. The employee is doing a job, why make it tougher on them? And as far as tipping, I was a bartender and a bar customer for several years, and I can tell you what I told my children long ago, no one forgets a cheap person or a generous person, how do you want to be regarded? Do you want service people to be happy to serve you or sad?

I think the blind and the sighted have got to start joining forces, we could learn so much from each other. I have a modest sized mailing list that has a mixture of blind and sighted people, most are my friends, and the others are friends of friends, all of you are welcome to join us, perhaps it will open a door or two to the two parties.[I searched my brain for a better word than parties, but I was stumped]

Bill Heaney Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

**22. I do not agree with **1. Tell you why. I never look "up, up and
away," and still, this is not good enough. The fact of the matter is, we do not live in a 'sighted world." We live in a temporarily able-bodied world. Sighties are fearful of their own vulnerability. This is why many of them hate us so. I am always so clean, and courteous. and it still does not work. Some one said that my telephone manner was so good. This is a bad sign. How did they know? Was the phone bugged? I wear jewelry, and when I relearn how to apply make-up again this September, will this make a world of difference? I don't think so. Being nice to people is great, if people are nice to us. But what about if they are rude to us? What do we do? Would sighted people talk to other sighted people like that? And can we talk to them the way they talk to us? There is a double standard. We are held to a different standard. And about tips, some people can't afford such high tips. Just because I am working, this does not mean I don't have sympathy for the blind guy who, due to discrimination, is unemployed. And what is this about "
"eye contact?" What does this mean? I try to make it, but best I can that
is. But it won't be the same. A friend says I look at people's shoulders. That's what I see----a shadow. Are we to act abled? To what extreme do we go? To an extent, it is the sighties who won't accept us. Of course you will get "What will she have"? from a waiter. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are still legally, or totally blind, as the case may be.

I agree with Brian Miller, Iowa city. I chuckled at his witticisms. I do
not agree with **1. What is a blindism? So many blind people do not have these mannerisms. And even if a person is well-dressed, we are still not accepted. Discrimination is alive and well. It's the ignorance of the sighted public that drives and perpetuates this discrimination. And "forgetting you are blind" is not so good either. Why should people forget? "Blind" means a person can't see. It has, although it should not have, negative connotations. Sighted people have bad days. Why, as some one put it, is he not allowed "to lose his cool"? My favorite book, What Psychotherapists Should Know about disability comes to mind.
"Emotional restriction is another problem. A disabled person is not allowed
their natural range of feelings. She must be cheerful and plucky at all times, and any expressions of anger or impatience are prohibited. The person with a disability must calmly endure an unending barrage of verbal insults. Why is a blind guy not allowed to get mad? Why must they endure verbal abuse or insults? And it does occur frequently. Sighties break the canes blind people need, in order to get about. How is a person to return home? This blind Uncle-Tom syndrome has to stop. And we are the ones perpetuating it. I don't like to see rude blind people. But what about rude sighties? This is why I am in such a neurotic conflict. I am in debt, buying clothes to try to please the sighties. And it is never good enough. I totally agree with John Covaleski. And so many blind people fear they will lose assistance from sighties, that they tend to fear retaliation. They pull the Blind Uncle Tom thing. Do blind people feel that they are inferior if they ask for help? Do they feel beggars can't be choosers? Do blind people see themselves as mendicants? The difficulty is that there are valid points on both sides. There is truth on both sides, and that's when it is so difficult to solve a dilemma. Let's all try to change and accept ourselves from within. Peace out.

Lucia Marret USA

**23. Enjoyed this. Good point!

Jerri Cooper NABS

**24. In answer to your question of how many of us feel that blind and disabled people have to be more civil and mild-tempered in our manners and behavior than the average person, not only are we as people with disabilities (blind in our case) expected to be more mild tempered, but people of color are expected by other people of color to be as well. As one respondent pointed out, a sighted rude person is pointed out of the crowd, but blind and disabled people being rude is more magnified because the disability characteristic--using a white cane or guide-dog, or being in a wheelchair--cannot be hidden. Likewise, people of color cannot hide their dark skin. Imagine if the main character in the narrative was blind and Black. Not only would his characteristic of being blind be magnified, but the color of his skin would be as well. Now, you would have sighted people saying something like, "damn, that guy is rude", and they would be talking among themselves about how they don't want to associate with Blacks or blind people because they're arrogant, snappy, and rude. In reference to prejudice, people expect someone belonging to a particular group or culture to act a certain way. For blind and disabled people, the notion is that we are so dependent and docile to the point that we'll let people walk all over us. For people of color, though, the notion is that they are always violent; thus, why both groups of people have to be mild-tempered. Blind and disabled people have to balance being mild-tempered with exercising their rights and capabilities without being arrogant and snappy like the customer at the ticket counter in the narrative. People of color have to do likewise but balance between not letting people walk all over them or not pushing too hard where people think that you, as a person of color, will resort to being verbally or physically violent. It's all a very thin line. As one respondent pointed out, it's not all black and white. IN addition to dealing with people's prejudices is also breaking the stereotypes. As one respondent discussed, blind people who are not rude like this guy in the narrative don't want to be associated with other blind people like him because they care about the public image they present. Likewise, people of color who act civil don't want to be associated with Blacks who are violent, dress in gang colors, act like thugs, and all those other negative things the public tends to attach to people of color. Most people want to present themselves as very caring, approachable, and gentle in their actions and attitudes and manners. Yes, we all--sighted, blind, White, people of color, etc.--have our bad days and lose our temper from time to time. After all, as Billy Joel once said, "you're only human. You're supposed to make mistakes". The flipside of that, though, is that we have to be mindful of how we're coming across to people. As I was told once, "you're an ambassador to your people". This referrers to whether you're blind, a person of color, or belonging to some other culture or subculture group. Yes, there are times when we're not aware of how we're coming across at that moment and don't realize how we may have come across negatively until way after the situation. The most important thing, though, is that we correct ourselves by not repeating that act in the future. In the guy's case, he may not have realized or cared how he was coming across to the cab driver and the clerk at the ticket counter. Provided that he did reflect on the incidents later and does care about how he comes across, the thing for him to do is to correct it by not repeating it--learning to be more patient, taking a few deep breaths. Yes, first impressions make lasting impressions. He may not have been able to go back to the very people to apologize show how approachable he really is, but he can show that he is approachable in future encounters with people.

Linda, USA

**25. We need more high tippers like Shelley, agreed? Stewardesses might get $1 for bags of peanuts, and stewards might get $1.50; and then, depending on what the drinks were, who knows how much the tips would be? Those guys would be in line for some really great dates! Seriously, Shelley, that was a very good illustration.
Now, regarding the Provoker, I am altering my opinion somewhat, that the guy was not rude at the airport. His reply to the clerk, when he was asked to show his ticket number, was uncalled for. When I fly, I prepare for things like this, by having the number in a pocket on a Braille slip of paper; it was not necessary for him to open his briefcase and extract a notetaker. And not only do I prepare for the question, I expect it. At the same time, I hold to my thinking that while it is good to exercise good etiquette, that not only the blind, but anyone, should be aggressive in his/her pursuits. I am doing that as I write, in preparation for that final exam in the Greek class August 17: I am 70 percent done with the studying of all the material we've covered; and I have covered material which the other students have not seen, such as Greek accenting. A friend in Chicago put it thus: "Give it your all!", and that is exactly what I am doing.

In answer to a respondent's question, "What is a blindism?", personally, I do not even like the word; we who are blind hear it as common vocabulary among those in work in rehabilitation of the blind, who regard themselves as superior to the rest of us; and some of these folks are just tiresome to be around. But anyway, What is a blindism? A blindism is behavior exhibited by some of the blind, such as (you may not believe some of these) rocking, or putting fingers or hands into or onto eyes. I am not ready to say that these "blindisms" occur because of mental lacks, as some rehab people actually are. Some rehab people think they know everything, especially those who are bound to books.

Jeff Frye Overland Park, Kansas



**27. I think I'd have to agree for the most part with all respondents to this TP. It seems that a lot of times, certain visually-impaired
people, myself included, are belittled for lacking certain skills or life experiences. For example, I have been looked down upon time and time again by
my state VR agency and my state paratransit system, mainly for living in the suburbs and therefore not necessarily having the exact same experiences as
others. I know this may seem on the outset to have nothing at all to do with my visual impairment, and it doesn't. But for whatever reason, my state seems
to have made little progress in this regard. I am not trying to pity myself at all by saying this. As a matter of fact, I know that I am and have always
been a highly capable person. I have a wonderful family who cares about me and really wants the best possible outcomes for me. I also have many friends
who really support me a lot. I guess my point here is that there is just so much bureaucratic red tape/discrimination in my state, that it is virtually
impossible to tell who is who anymore, or who receives which services. I had considered at one point joining either the ACB or NFB in my state in an attempt
to help straighten things out, but to be honest I feel there is way too much bickering between these two organizations and almost nothing gets sorted out
in the long run. This, I feel, raises the issue of success being defined differently by different people. If the ACB and the NFB would stop fighting over
such petty issues as white cane versus guide dog, Braille literacy versus adaptive technology, paratransit versus fixed-route buses, accessible currency,
etc., and stop arguing ad nauseam about these issues, a whole lot more would be accomplished. If all the personal attacks would cease, a whole lot more
would be accomplished. By personal attacks, I mean things like telling visually-impaired people that they are illiterate if they don't know Braille, and
the list goes on. No two people are exactly alike, therefore what one person defines as success may mean partial or even total failure for the next person.
There is no problem with that, nor should there be a problem with that.
I started a part-time job this past weekend. I am going to help stuff envelopes for the Infant Welfare Society. I didn't get this job through my state VR
agency. As a matter of fact, they don't even know I got this job and they most probably never will. The reason for this is that despite numerous repeated
attempts at contacting someone at VR, nobody has returned my or my mother's emails or phone calls. Upon calling the Client Assistance Program, my mom and
I were told that since my VR case was closed CAP would be unable to help us. I wrote to my local DBTAC for assistance, and got back an email with several
contacts. However, still nothing has gotten resolved. So I am pretty sure at this point that I'm dropping the ball on VR despite what others say. This
job was offered to me by Center for Independent Futures, a nonprofit community-based independent living organization with which my parents and I are involved.
I will be doing this job with neighbors and friends. I'm not getting a whole heck of a lot of money from the job, at least not right away. But hey, if
it's the only option for employment out there right now, then so be it. I probably can't afford much more, at least right now, due to my financial situation.
But is anyone here complaining and bitching at me for that? No they're not. When I told my folks I'd be starting this job, they were very excited and were
very congratulatory. This is also true of other friends I told. In addition, this is work I can do and I like to help out whenever and wherever the need
arises. I love Center for Independent Futures, and I am having a great time. I have made many friends here. I have really gained a lot from this organization.
In addition to my visual impairment, I have a slight learning disability and low muscle tone. These other disabilities haven't presented much of a problem
for me though. My learning disability, in particular, has not affected me much at all. The low muscle tone used to be much worse than it is now. I am still
somewhat limited though. As a result of the low muscle tone, there are things that I do a bit slower than your average person. For example, my hand coordination
is a bit of a problem. But I don't see many people complaining about that. The only people who have complained and whined about that are people from my
state VR agency, and in the not-so-distant past people from my ADA paratransit agency. I gave up using the latter though. This is not only because they
were very unreliable for the better part, but also because paratransit seems to be a "no-no" for us according to some. One question: How do things like
paratransit make us stick out like sore thumbs? I know this might seem like kind of a stupid reason not to use paratransit, but I am just so fed up with
being dealt the disability card, that at this point I will do virtually anything to get out of these predicaments. I might, however, start using it again
if I can get reliable service. Note the emphasis on "might." Paratransit is, in fact, one of the only transportation options for some of us. It might be
the only option. So where is the answer here? When will the ACB and the NFB just put aside their differences and stand up and advocate for those of us
whom they claim to serve? When will I and others be able to join one or both of these organizations without fear of regret for doing so?

Jake Joehl