Tag Archives: blind wait staff

Can You See Me? I’m Here In The Darkness. (Part 3)

24 Feb

As I concentrated on that feeling of smallness and aloneness, my husband nudges my shoulder propelling me out of my reflection.

“Hey Shannon? Have you tried shaking your head?”

“No.” I reply laughing at his enthusiasm for the experience.

“Try it. I’ve been doing it for the last 5 minutes.” He chuckles.

I start shaking my head back and forth, imitating Oli’s constant head movement.

“What’s it doing for you?” I ask Seth after a minute.

“I feel like I can hear the sounds around me better. I hear something different each time I turn my head.” He tells me. “What are you getting out of it?”

“Dizzy.” I respond. “I could only do it for a minute before I started feeling like I wanted to throw up.” I am a person who couldn’t even ride the Teacups at the county fair without wanting to throw up.

While I was sitting there my eye was continually drawn to a little red light on the ceiling. I’m guessing it was a smoke detector light or something like that. In the darkness I could orient myself to that light. Every once in a while another small light would be illuminated in the back of the room. I think it was from staff coming in and out and lifting a curtain.

Although I was WAY more secure sitting in my chair and not walking around in the dark, I was immediately drawn to any kind of change in the blackness. When I would see that little bit of light, a tiny tiny minute change in the texture of the dark, my body seemed to be able to orient itself to it. I instantly knew where I was in space. I didn’t feel so lost. I began to realize why it has taken Oli so long to be aware of where her body is. I began to recognize the HUGE importance of teaching her orientation with regards to herself and her environment because she doesn’t have any kind of light perception.

All of a sudden the lessons that I had been learning and teaching her made absolute and complete real sense to me. A light went off and I felt it. I felt why it was so important.

“It’s now time for the question and answer part of our night here at the Blind Café. The blind waiters and waitresses are inviting you to ask questions about what it is like living as a blind person.” The man who made this whole night possible, Rosh Rocheleau, stands up and introduces them.

“Everyone who has a question raise their hand.” This statement is met with a nervous, awkward silence and then followed by laughter as the waiters begin to laugh. Oh? It’s okay to have a sense of humor about this whole thing?

I think sometimes people are so insecure and uncomfortable around people who are different from them that they forget that they are just like everyone else. They are smart, funny, happy, real people. Except for the fact that they cannot see, they are just the same as you. The blind wait staff made us feel like it was okay. It was okay to ask the typical questions about blindness. They were so comfortable and confident in themselves, they tolerated the ridiculous questions and were happy to dispel many myths. I have to say, I was slightly annoyed at some people’s stereotypical questions about blindness. However, I am not afraid to admit that I too, have had similar questions when I first learned about blindness.

People asked questions like “Do you see in your dreams?”

Answer: “No.” People who have been blind since birth don’t see in their dreams because their brains just don’t work like that. They have never seen anything so their subconscious has no reference to input visual pictures into their dreams. They dream in smell, sound, and touch.

“Are your other senses super enhanced? Did they become heightened?”

Answer: “No. We don’t develop super powers like Superman.” A blind person’s hearing and sense of smell are the same as everyone else’s. If measured I’m sure it would be at a normal, appropriate level. Blind people just learn to use their senses better than you or I. They pay better attention to things that we generally don’t because we experience our world about 60% of the time through vision.

“Do you hate it when people say things like ‘Did you listen to American Idol last night’?”

Answer: “Yes. Absolutely. I try to be nice about it and if someone says ‘Did you listen to ….’ I respond, ‘Yes. I watched….last night.’ You don’t have to adapt your vocabulary just because I can’t see. I still use words like: see, look, watch….because they are acceptable terms in our language.”

“What is another one of your pet peeves that people do to blind people?”

Answer: “I hate it when I go out to a bar or restaurant with my friends and the bartender asks my friend what I want. They don’t ask me. They’ll say things like ‘What does he want?’ You can talk to me. Hello! I’m standing right here! I also hate it when I give them my money and they hand my change back to my friend. They never hand it to me. Ummm….it’s MY money. You can give it directly to me. Sometimes people treat me like I’m a child or incapacitated and I hate that.”

“What is a relationship like with another blind person vs. a sighted person?”

Answer: “Really, it’s the same. There is just a much bigger learning curve and much more teaching involved in dating a sighted person.”

(Check back again. I STILL have more to tell you. I could probably write a whole book on this experience:)

Advertisements

Can You See Me? I’m Here In The Darkness. (Part 2)

23 Feb

As I continued my experience randomly selecting food and taking small fearful bites (you never know when they would sneak in another olive, or infinitely worse, a bit of cilantro) I start listening to the conversations around me. I turn my head to the left and listen.

Perk. No one could see that I was eavesdropping.

They were talking about what brought them here tonight. Most people had just heard about it and thought it would be an interesting thing to try. I speak up and say that I have a blind daughter. They start asking me questions about her and want to know what she has to say about blindness. I explain that Oli has autism and doesn’t talk. A woman across from me and to my left starts to tell me about her friends daughter who is also autistic. We are interrupted by a loud voice behind me.

“Seth’s wife? Seth’s wife?”

“I’m here!” I call out.

Were you wondering where my husband was during my first moments in the café?

Where else?

In the bathroom. Minutes before we followed the waitress behind the curtain and stumbled into the darkness, Seth decides he has to pee.

I guess the line was really long because he hadn’t returned when it was our turn to be seated. I knew he would find me eventually.

I grab his hand, well. . .I try to grab his hand, but really just keep grabbing our waitress Faith’s hand.

“Nope. Your still holding onto Faith.” She tells me as she tries to guide me to Seth’s hand.

“See? Woman hand.” I touch her smooth hand. “Man hand” She laughs as I finally grasp hold of Seth.

“Ahhh. . .very important detail. Smooth soft girlie hands and rough man hands.” I say giggling about my complete ignorance.

I really need to concentrate and let me other senses take over. I am focusing on the blackness with my eyes. Opening them wide and trying to discern any tiny shape, form or different shade of darkness. There was nothing and I am disoriented.

After Seth is seated I turn back to my left and try to speak to the woman about her friends daughter again.

“So your friend’s daughter has autism?” I speak in the direction I had before.

There is no reply.

My voice seems small and gets lost amidst the other conversations. I have no other way to get her attention because I cannot make eye contact with her and don’t know where she is to touch her arm. I don’t even know her name.

All of a sudden I feel very alone and lost. I feel unseen and unnoticed.

Is this what it is like for Oli? She can’t see me and she can’t talk to me.

Does this sweet little girl feel unnoticed, unheard, lost and afraid in her world of darkness?

I slump in my chair as my heart begins to feel unbearably heavy. I sit back as those startling realizations hit me and think about that moment.

I think about how I am feeling at that exact point in time and try to burn it into my brain. I don’t want to forget it because I am learning. I am finally learning a very small part about what it is really like living in Oli’s world.

(Check back later. I have more to tell you!)

Can You See Me? I’m Here In The Darkness. (Part 1)

22 Feb

I had the AMAZING opportunity to eat dinner last night at the Blind Café. Dinner and music in the complete darkness.

“Hold on to the shoulder of the person standing in front of you. Okay. Everyone ready to experience the Blind Café?” The woman at the front of the line leading us into the darkness has an advantage. An advantage that normally, in the sighted world she lives in, is a disadvantage. The woman in the black dress, holding a long white cane…is blind.

I quickly introduce myself to the woman in front of me and hold tightly to her slim shoulder.

The line begins to move. I walk behind a heavy white curtain and am immediately plunged into pitch blackness. As I took my first blind steps into the café my heart started pounding in my chest. I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t know where I was going. I simply had to trust the woman in front of me and hope that I didn’t walk into anything or fall over.

“Watch your head!” the woman in front of me suddenly shouts.

“What? Where?” I am ducking my head and swerving to avoid an unseen attacker.

“Left? Right? Where is it? What am I watching out for?”

No details are given. Those were the beginning moments that made me acutely aware of the importance of descriptive details when speaking to Oli about her surroundings.

We all follow in line until we reach our table. Our blind waiter begins to help each of us find our seat. We were told that our food would already be waiting for us on the table. I cautiously sit down and move my hands across the table.

What am I touching?

I have no idea.

There’s some squishy stuff to my left at 10 o’clock. There is a bowl of little balls and a short, fat, cone shaped object beneath the squishy stuff. The plate in front of me has a large, papery thing on it with a stick poking out of its center. Above that is more wet squishy stuff on little flat circles. Someone at my table said that there was bread in the middle of the table. I slowly reach my hand out and above my plate. I find more little balls. I move to the right. What is this? It’s slimy and wet. Now my fingers are dripping with a slimy oily substance. Where is my napkin? Did they give us napkins? Do we have utensils?

I search to the right of my plate and thankfully find my napkin. I also find a plastic fork. I contemplate using my fork to try and stab at some of my food and then quickly realize how pointless that seems. It will be way more efficient to use my fingers. Beside how will I know what I am eating unless I actually pick it up with my fingers? I find the bowl of little balls again and search for the cone shaped thing. I find it and decide to pick it up and smell it. My senses should be enhanced right? Since my vision is gone. Wrong. Total myth! I can’t smell it at all. It smells like something, but I have no idea what? It smells like my fingers and whatever that slimy stuff was.

After touching everything on my plate and probably everything on my neighbor’s plate too, I couldn’t tell where my food stopped and hers started, I decided to taste something. I find the squishy stuff on the flat circles and pick one up. I identified the circles to be crackers. I could feel the salt and circles. I raise it to my lips and take an apprehensive bite. Olives! Aaaccckkkk!! I HATE olives. The squishy stuff was some kind of spread. I don’t know what else was in it, but I could taste olives. I put the cracker down. Do I have a drink somewhere around here to wash the nasty olive taste from my mouth? I feel my way a little farther to my left, past my plate. I find a water bottle. Of course, I didn’t know it was water until I took a sip.

Moving on.

I’m really getting brave with my hands now. I find the bowl of balls again. I pick one up and pop it in my mouth. A grape. Yay! Win!

I pick up another ball. I think it’s another grape. Wrong. Olive! What-Is-With-The-OLIVES!! Tricky, sneaky, blind café.

FYI. An olive feels like a grape.

thecrumbdiaries

Logan is challenged but not limited, and he is living his life like a boss. I am just lucky enough to be along for the ride.

Mommy Got Her Groove Back

How a new mom, and wife does parenting and daily life.

Lessons from my daughter

Although all doctors agreed she would do nothing.....

I'm fine, but my Mommy has issues!

Raising a daughter with special needs.

Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles

Our family's adventures in the world of ADHD and Autism.

Parenting And Stuff

Not a "how to be a great parent" blog

don of all trades

Master of none...

The Third Glance

A peek into my (Autistic) mind

One Stitch At A Time

Making my way back in time.

Disability Watchdog

Exposing Injustices for Vulnerable People

My thoughts on a page.

Living, Laughing, Loving, Loathing.

It is Well...with my Soul

Sure, my hands are full. So is my HEART!

Chopping Potatoes

And other metaphors for motherhood

This is the Corner We Pee In

Bulletins from the Parenting Trenches...

clotildajamcracker

The wacky stories of a crazy lady.

This is the place

visiting places where writers were born, lived, loved & are buried.

motherslittlesteps.co.uk/

Motherhood and Country-Coastal Living

My Dance in the Rain

The journey of my life, my path to redefine myself and a special little girl with Cri du Chat Syndrome and Primary Ciliary Dyskenisia who changed it all.

Prego and the Loon

Pregnant and Dealing With Domestic Violence

%d bloggers like this: