Cringe worthy doesn’t even come close to todays blog.
I hope you’re ready to be squirming in your seats as you hear some of my awkward stories.
Now life itself can be a very awkward thing from time to times the times when you say or do the wrong thing, that frost silence, when you lean in to kiss you’re crush mistaking their look for an invitation only to be coldly rejected, the time when you stumble an inopportune moment, the list goes on. But, surprisingly enough one of the things that regularly crop up in awkwardness is the topic of disability.
UK disability charity Scope launched the return of their incredible campaign known as the #EndTheAwkward campaign to raise awareness of disability and the awkwardness that can surround it to end the stigma of disability. This year i was one of the lucky people asked to take part in the campaign as I shared my story of when people would give my guide dogs directions, despite the fact that I asked for them!
So, as part of the campaign I decided to make a video on my YouTube channel about some of my most awkward moments that I have experienced due to my disability.
But, I also wanted to write an accompanying blog post for those of you who prefer my experiences in the form of written words. As after all I am a writer by trade.
Disclaimer: This bog and video is not intended to offend or insult anyone. It is merely to educate people.
Watch The Video Below
The Precarious Priority Seat Situation
The first awkward moment that I can recall is when I was on a bus with my guide dog Unity. I was sitting in what is known as a ‘Priority Seat’ these seats are reserved for people with disabilities, who are with child and elderly all having equal entitlement to sit there. One elderly gentlemen boards the bus and makes a beeline for me. He asks me to move out of the seat because apparently I wasn’t disabled and thus I didn’t need to sit there and he did. Now, usually I would politely inform the person that I too was disabled and thus I had a much right to sit there as he did. But, on this occasion my stop was approaching and I decided to take the cooler approach. I got up, called for my guide dog to heel and she came into full view of everyone on the bus…including the man.
The tension was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. All colour drained from his face and he gabbled ‘Oh my god! You’re blind! sit down! sit down I’m sorry its just…you didn’t look blind.’
I smoothed a lock of hair from my face, and said ‘don’t worry, this is my stop. But, don’t be too quick to judge next time.’
‘But You Don’t Look Blind’
The ‘you don’t look blind’ comment is commonplace in my everyday life. I get it very often and sometimes I don’t even bother to correct people. But, the first time I heard thee famous five words is one I will never forget. It all happened when I was at a tube station with my guide dog. I asked to be allowed through the disabled barrier with her and the attendant answered that no, it was merely for disabled people and those with pushchairs. But, I answered that i was in fact disabled and gestured to my guide dog. On realising the presence of my companion he turned scarlet and said ‘oh I’m sorry its jut….you don’t look blind!’
The Moment When Cane Meets Leg
Now this one I find slightly more upsetting, as it happened at a time when i was just staring to come to terms with my disability.
I had started to use a long cane and with it I took the mantle of everything it meant. I was at a flower show with my mother and grandmother and I was trying to negotiate though a busy crowd. I accidentally knocked a woman’s legs, I of course apologised thinking there would be nothing more said. But, it appeared I was very much mistaken, I was called ‘stupid’ an ‘idiot,’ and that ‘people lime me shouldn’t even be hear.’
As you can image I didn’t take these comments entirely well, but trust me these days I would give as good as I got.
‘If You Believe in God You Will Get Your Sight Back’
Now the first thing I want to address before i get into this anecdote is that I am not in any way shape or form opposed to anyone having, practicing or believing in a region. Yet I do have an issue when people say that not believing in a religion entails that you will contract a disability.
I recall when I was in a Supermarket, a lady approached me and said very blatantly ‘you know if you believe in God you will get your sight back.’
It is hugely derogatory and unfair to argue that by someone not believing in a faith means that it is their fault that they contract a disability or an illness. Disability is a way of life, it is not life’s way of making people pay penance and I hugely resent the implication.
‘Wont Green Tea Help?’
I think you get this sometimes if you’re disabled, I certainly have. People say have you tried green tea?’ or ‘this herbal treatment cured my sister of her skin condition. Have you tried it?’ I have heard these kinds of comments in the past and the one thing I can say is that I am 100% certain, nay I’d stake my life on the thesis that disability is not connected to how much cake you eat….
The Silent Speed Date
Speed dates are awkward situations enough, after all you sit there ask very random question about your counterpart who sits fighting over the other side of the table. You have to try and decide if this person is ‘the one’ within the space a few minutes. Well, perhaps not to that extremes after all it isn’t exactly the ‘Tame Me Out Show’ but you catch my point. It is hugely intense. Yet, it would appear that disability can make speed dates even more awkward.
The speed date was a blindfolded speed date, aiming to raise awareness of sight loss. I was ploughing through the fourth of fifth person of the speed dating evening and he started to delve into the topic of being blindfolded. I answered that I myself was visually impaired to which he remained silent for a whole 30 seconds before answering bluntly ‘oh..I don’t know what to say to that.’
But, its not as if I told him that I was a crazed axe murderer or an alien for the furthest corners of our Solar system. I merely said my eyes didn’t work in the same way as his did. I answered that he could speak as normal but he insisted that I had ‘killed the conversation.’
As you can imagine we weren’t a match made in heaven, more like a match made in cringe worthy hell!
‘She’s Blind! I’ve Got a Chance to Pull Her!’
Continuing with the theme of dating and awkwardness, I also encountered a situation at a local pub with my friends from University. A man approaches me and politely comments on my cute guide dog and asked ‘are you training her?’ a common question I get asked. To which I replied that no I wasn’t and that she was in fact my guide dog.
He turned to his friend and sharply nudged him in the ribs, saying ‘ooh she’s blind I’ve got a chance to pull her!’
Needless to say, he didn’t pull me that night.
An Inquisition in the Sauna
The last (and most recent) awkward moment I recall was when I was sitting in a Sauna at a local gym. A man enters the Sauna and greets me, asking me how long i’ve been a member, what I like to do in the gym and so on and so fourth normal chat for a sauna.
But, then we begin to get onto the subject of travel, he notes how expensive traveling is and I responded that it isn’t if you have a freedom pass. He asked how it is that I come by a freedom pass and i responded that it was because I was visually impaired and disabled.
He then began to launch ito a full on inquisition saying that ‘I didn’t look disabled?’ and that i seemed to walk perfectly fine on my own and that if I had his visual impairment he’d feel sorry for me. When I responded that i wasn’t asking for sympathy I was merely asking a question he raised a cynical brow at me. My face turning red, I told him that my guide dog was in the office if he didn’t believe me and he responded ‘do you really need one?’
I this point I there my hands up and my my excuse to leave…I had well and truly heard it all.
So, that concludes my top awkward moments I really hope you liked it.
Be sure to check out Scope’s website for more into on the campaign at http://www.scope.org.uk and share your awkward moments under the #EndTheAwkward.
Thank you all for reading my blog and I will see you all next time.
Until then adieu.