Because of my blindness, I get treated differently by most people, sometimes it is for the better, sometimes not. (See my pos from July 8,, Race, Respect & Blindness) It is an interesting phenomena and raises questions in human behavior as to why people treat me differently. For instance, as I walk through a Wal-Mart, I have observed some parents will grab their children as I approach and pull them close. I’m not talking about toddlers who could be injured if I ran them over, I’m talking about kids that are 8 or 10 years old. I suspect that some people react with fear when they encounter something, or someone, in which they are unfamiliar with. In other words, in some cases, a lack of understanding breeds fear or mistrust. Or perhaps I just look really scary!
When I encounter another person with an obvious disability who may be struggling to open the door, I do not immediately assist them. I will wait a moment or two and then ask the individual if he or she needs help. I hate it when others try to assist me, especially when I do not require help and so I will only help if needed. If I do need help, I will ask. I may struggle for a moment or two, but since I value my independence I will try on my own. I do recognize that people are just trying to be nice and its better than someone trying to trip me or knock me down. This is just one of those things that I have to endure. However, sometimes it is more annoying then others. I attend school at the University of Central Oklahoma and like most college campuses, the majority of students are 18-22. Sometimes I will approach a door and some 20-year old girl will run up and open the door for me. I hate this. Knowing that she means well, I force a smile and say “thank you” and enter the building emasculated.