Monday, April 28, 2008

Where is the line drawn in the sand?

Warning: The following post in very politically INcorrect.

So I'm waiting for the bus today at my "safe", practiced distance from the stop, and a lady using a "visually impaired" cane approached. As she passed she stared me straight in the face and said "Hello" in chipper voice. So I replied: "hello". When we boarded the bus it ended up that we were sidled alongside the seat that "blind lady" occupied. She struck up a conversation. It is at times like this that I always have to take a deep breath. It always happens to me on public transit. I must have a sign on my forehead that reads "Lonely? Depressed? Homeless? Disabled...um sorry, ok: challenged? Talk to ME!" But I had a friend who always looked upon moments like this as opportunities rather than impositions, so I try to emulate her at least a little. She was a good soul. So it goes that "blind lady" kept asking me small talk questions. I answered, but really was not feeling into asking her reciprocal ones. Then the weirdest thing happened. She started feeling all of my belongings. Like, she started fingering my cup holder on my stroller. "Ohhhh you've got a little holder here, hey? For drinks and things?" She asked. Ummm yes. "And lookit here, what is this some kind of organiser you have here? For holding your cards and papers?" Ummm yeah. "WOW, this handle on your stroller seems very sturdy. (Feeling the buttons on the handle) it must reverse so baby is facing both ways, then?" ok, yes, yes, and yes (me hiding my rising distaste). I'm thinking in my head: It's ok, she is blind, this is how she looks at things in the world. We were chatting, she is just commenting on things like a normal person in her own unique way, breathe, breathe, calm down.

But then "blind lady" sees another person getting on with a stroller, and she points at him and then at the spot reserved for strollers on the bus and directs him there "You have to push your stroller all the way in there" she says pointing. Huh? So she can see? Ok, I get that she may not be totally blind. Then she starts commenting on all the things she sees whipping by us outside the bus window. Huh? So her eyesight is only bad close up and when things aren't moving, I guess? That's very strange. Then she goes back to fondling my things-she fingers baby's blanket and asks me all about him, she touches my bus passes shoved in my diaper bag, etc, etc. So my question here, and this is the politically incorrect part, do I gotta let a blind person fondle my things no questions asked? If I went around fondling people's belongings on the bus I'd probably be kicked in the crotch and arrested. As it should be. People are always touching my stroller on the bus. Old people always grab the handles for steadiness as they hobble to their seats (not smart since, oh, it's on wheels!) and people are always grabbing the blanket and peering inside at baby boy. So where do I draw the line? "Regular" people get a bitchy "back off!" but disabled people can touch away? Would I be prejudiced if I asked "blind lady" to stop? Would people write into the free newspapers about the injustices they watched this lady and baby commit on the bus? Or is it right for me to expect anyone, no matter their ability, race, age, to ASK before they F%^kin' touch my things?

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