Marlon will appreciate this.
Not long ago, I made a friend. Yes, I know, it happens to the best of us, and sometimes, to the rest of us. But I managed it somehow, and, after chatting online a while, we managed to meet in meatspace. Since then, we’ve managed to meet up a few times, and she’s helped me out with errand running and shopping and things like that. I’m the first blind person Andrea’s really ever met, or at least been friends with, the case probably more often than it isn’t, but we developed a natural rapport without lots of awkwardness. Even so, a bit of miscommunication in the name of polite accommodation (on both our parts, I hasten to add), now gives us one more thing we can laugh at.
Anyone who knows me knows that I walk at a pretty decent clip. Melanie claims that I don’t walk, that in fact what I do (especially with Leno or one of his predecessors) is run. I think that may be stretching a point, but that’s what she says. Anyway, I told Melanie, after one of my shopping trips with Andrea, that “She’s a pretty slow walker, but at least she’s good company, and she doesn’t complain at the length of my shopping list.” This in sharp contrast to the Walmart greeter who helped me a couple times, who, had he walked any slower we would be going backwards, commented at the length of my shopping list, and would say things like, “Oh, hey, we’re really getting through this list” every 5 minutes or so.
This past Monday, Andrea took me downtown in among both of our errands to renew dog licenses, and to get Hilda her lifetime one. She told me where we were parked, and off I went, then remembered that I maybe should wait for her to catch up. I thought nothing of this, as this isn’t too unusual. Dog licensing completed, we did her shopping and my shopping. It took us a while, time passed, and the day got away from me, but that’s another story.
We were chatting last night, and Andrea mentioned that I was “kind of reckless” crossing streets. I protested that I certainly was not, at least not most of the time, When crossing near the municipal building, I had the traffic light and everything. She says that she was amused, and surprised. I asked, “Why surprised?” She responded, “Because we snail crawl through stores.”
Oh yeah. The lightbulb went on.
She was trying to accommodate me by slowing down. She’s never had a blind friend before, so how did she know? I never said anything, assuming she was just a slow walker…some people are, and I didn’t want to rush her if she was a slow walker. How did I know? After all, when someone’s guiding you, you walk at her speed, right? So here we were, both trying to accommodate a need neither one of us actually had. “My mama taught me to be polite,” I said. “Lol well, at least we can’t be called rude. Slow. Turtle like. Passed by a snail. But not rude. ” It’d probably be a great scene for somebody’s sitcom. You’re welcome. Anyway, we are both relieved that we don’t need to be so polite anymore.
So, just remember. It really is possible to be too polite and accommodating. Y’all blind folks, don’t assume those sighted people really need special accommodations. Sometimes they do, and we have to take their affliction into account by, for example, remembering to turn lights on. Sometimes though, not so much.