Is There Redemption For A Blind Chicken


Is There Redemption for a Blind Chicken


Virginia Sblendorio and Robert Leslie Newman

     "Want to go for a ride?" The voice on the phone was my older sister, who had recently moved within a few miles from me. "I have to run to the supermarket and pick up a couple of things."

     "Sure," I said, I didn't need anything from the store, but not able to drive any more, I relish any opportunity to go for a drive no matter how mundane the trip.

     Hearing my sister's car pull into the driveway, I flipped on the light switch for my porch light as I stepped out, fingers brushing the handle of my white cane where it rested upright in the corner. It would be twilight or even dark by the time I got home.

     "Hey little Sis, where's your cane?" asked my older sister as I slipped into the front seat? "I saw you feeling with your feet for those steps."

     "Oh, just going to the store with you I don't need it." My answer was of course to put her off. I wasn't going to share with her the extent to which I resented my cane. I rarely used it. It made me stand out in a crowd in a way I did not care for.

     At the store's parking lot we found it to be nearly full and it was necessary to park a long way from the entrance. On the way in we cut through rows of cars, which worked well for me, because it put my sister in my best visual range and easier to follow. However, nearing the doors there were people going every direction, and I lost her in the crowd. But I made it inside okay, but the inside lighting was so bright compared to the rapidly dimming outdoors, I was essentially blinded.

     "Little Sis, if you had that cane, you wouldn't have to just stand there," said my older sister.

     I clutched my older sister's arm as she snagged a shopping cart and together we went up and down the aisles in tandem.

     In the meat department, we found a manager's special on chickens. "Little Sis, you love chicken. You should pick up a couple of these," urged my older sister and I agreed. I selected two packages, tore the coupons off, and pressed their sticky sides to my forearm. Since my sight began to fail me, I have found many ways to "remember" what I cannot see. I have often purchased things with "redeem at register" coupons attached, only to realize after I got home that they were not redeemed. Now I take them off and stick them on my forearm so I do not forget.

     We finished shopping and headed to the registers to pay. Realizing my items were to be first, I spoke up. "Those are the chicken's which were on sale."

     "Ah, I don't see the..." the cashier began.

"Oh, here they are," I informed him, peeling the stickers off my arm. Relishing the opportunity to educate, I politely told him that I was visually impaired. I explained why I stuck the coupons to my arm.

     "Well ah...I'll have to call over a manager. Ah, company policy."

     When the store manager arrived, I again explained myself.

     "Interesting, but removing the coupons voids the discount," the manager said and his tone left no doubt he was not going to budge.

     I was speechless and angry and my thoughts ricocheted in my head like a trapped bird. I thought about leaving the chicken and store immediately but with my fierce pride, I was not going to ask my sister to leave that store to go to another after filling a cart with groceries.

     Perhaps I should have had my white cane with me. Perhaps I should have laughed it off. Ultimately, I felt powerless. I felt like a coward. I felt ashamed of being blind, ashamed of allowing my emotions to get the better of me and ashamed of being bullied. I paid for my order and went home with a bellyache and a very angry sister. Stupid cane!


e-mail responses to

**. I'd say yes, there is, but only if she seeks it.

There are enough individuals and good agencies around who will help this lady with the skills she needs to use, as a blind person. But, more importantly, they'll help her with her attitude toward blindness. She'll learn to not be ashamed of her cane and to ask for information, even if it's from her sister. So, this lady has a long way to go, but she can be redeemed, if she wants to be.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, PA

**2. Well, they (the sisters) each have every right to be angry, and it's not going to get better until a few things are acknowledge. Even before the young sister learns to believe that she is blind and should start acting as an educated blind person, she's got to believe that it's okay to be blind; it's hard to tell in this part of their lives whether that will happen.

The older sister's nagging (no, they weren't friendly reminders) doesn't help make change; she should probably stop offering rides, unless it's just a family thing they do together.

And the other issues which kept cropping up in the story - locating things, identifying coupons, dealing with the management - these can all be smoothed out once the reality is confronted (well, I don't like my choice of the word confronted, as it somehow implies negativity).

At the end of the story, everyone is angry or frustrated or feeling humiliation or shame, which is about the same.

And that's how it is most of the time, in a way, isn't it? I don't mean the anger and humiliation, but the part where she keeps getting mixed up about why things happen. She may be about to figure it out, but not every mix-up is due to blindness, or the failure to accept blindness. It's hard to remember sometimes; sighted people lose people in crowds; they trip on steps; they lose coupons, or fail to have something redeemed; they misplace things and are misunderstood. But when you mix in that additional ingredient, blindness, you're on overload and blaming everyone for it.
This is the rationale for my original contention here: She's going to have to believe that blindness is okay, her characteristic now, and learn what's involved with that. If you're blind, you rely on yourself and your cane or dog; if you're blind, you talk to your companion so you know what's happening when bright or dim or fluctuation light makes seeing impossible; when you're blind, you work out issues with store management in advance, so you're not caught in confusion; when you're blind, you understand that some days you'll have trouble and other days you won't, and sometimes blindness will cause the trouble, but often it won't.

And about the sister offering the ride, and thereafter nagging about the cane? She seems supportive and affirming and savvy, but if she hasn't raised kids yet, or worked through other situations, she'll soon find out that nagging never works. It'll be something the younger sister can teach her, once she's set up with some strong foundation to stand on - better than anger and grudges and pretending.

kat Guam

**3. The central character in this Provoker has just recently lost her sight and I have been blind since birth. I believe, however that there is very little difference between my experience of blindness and hers. I remember resenting the cane and thinking I would stand out in a crowd. I remember that feeling of having a bellyache, being ashamed and blaming my blindness whenever I embarrassed myself or imposed on others.
The woman in the story believed that the coupons would still be good. It might be said that she should have known better, but the truth is that we never have all the information we need. This is true of sighted people, too, although they can read print signs at almost the speed of light and our information-gathering skills are limited to what is in front of our noses or comes out of someone else's mouth.
I think that our heroine, like all blind people, eventually grows beyond the feeling of shame. She'll start using the cane because at some point she won't give a rip what the crowd thinks anymore. When she doesn't care about the crowd anymore she will truly be free.

Chris Coulter: retired musician and beginning voice actress and narrator
Edmonds, Washington

**4. I don't understand how tearing off the coupons and sticking them on the blind person's arm has anything at all to do with being blind. This sounds like a blind person using some sort of entitlement trip to empower themselves. If attaching coupons to an arm were some sort of memory device, then anyone with ADHD, Alzheimer's, ... whatever disability you like ... Will be able to tear them. If the argument is made that the blind person would otherwise see the coupon and thus be reminded, I might point out that, even in this limited scenario, the sister was with him/her, and could have been visually reminded, thus triggering memory without detachment. The cashier, as well, has the power to remind the blind person about coupons on the package. Even if NO ONE reminds the blind person of any coupons, simply constructing a mnemonic and a little self-discipline will allow him/her the freedom and dignity of not needing to stick them on a body part. You're blind; get over it.

Mark Burning Hawk

**5. I think there were other ways she could have handled the situation. She could have asked her sister to watch to make sure she got the discount without removing the coupons. Being blind didn't give her the right to that kind of special treatment. There are times when we need breaks or special assistance, but that wasn't one of them, especially since she was with a sighted person.

Nancy Lynn

**6. I've had times when I was totally confused about something and acted really strange. Maybe this was one of those times. I remember way back before I took mobility when I thought I didn't need a white cane or other aide for getting around. The reason I thought I didn't need a cane or dog was because I hadn't experienced traveling in big areas like going all the way downtown or a few blocks to our small village. People often think that using a cane diminishes them. They think that being blind diminishes them in their eyes as well as others. Instead of being more independent using an aid, they become more dependent because they don't use one. This lady was so hung up on her "pride" that she got all goofed up in her mind in the handling of that coupon for the chicken. I don't think she fully explained to the manager why she removed it. He may have thought she was being dishonest by removing it. Good grief, she didn't need to go to another store. She could have put the stuff in the car and bought more groceries and gone on her way with her sister. She was blaming her cane that she didn't have with her. Wow. I hope she gets turned around in another story.

P.S. to my entry. Now that I read this a second time, I think the manager sure didn't understand the situation. The girl without her cane was mad because he wouldn't give her the discount. Maybe if she'd had her cane, she wouldn't have had that trouble.

Leslie Old Hand

**7. Sounds like "Little Sis" has a problem or two. First of all, instead of thinking of her cane as a stigma, she should have realized that it is a tool for independence and it enables her to appear and be more independent and self-assured. Sure, some people might feel sorry for her, but others would either ignore or think better of her. Actually, I'd think that she'd feel better about herself. Perhaps one of the reasons for her attitude is that she has some vision, so may be better able to deny and fake it. In other words, she is attempting to depend on her quite limited and inadequate residual vision. Second, I don't see what her cane has to do with the problem with the chicken and stickers. It sounds like she was thinking that having the cane would make her stand out as blind, so the manager would feel sorry for her. Apparently, she has the wrong idea of what blindness is and what her responsibility is. Personally, I resent using disability to obtain sympathy and get breaks that others cannot. It sounds like her older sister is more adjusted than she is. As for the issue of removing the sticker and the store's policy, where is that policy posted? How is a shopper to know that removing a sticker would result in loss of the discount?

Doug Hall (Daytona Beach, FL

**8. I am sure most of us who have been faced with declining vision have resisted carrying one of those horrid white canes thereby letting the entire world know that we are less than perfect. (LOL)

I resisted using a cane until a good friend gave a talk about 30 some odd years ago at a meeting of the Colorado Council of the blind.

He noted that, while you don't want anyone to know that you have a handicap and thus refuse to use a cane you are, most likely, conveying that you are probably drunk as you collide with the parking meter, bound off that into the lovely cement planter placed on the sidewalk to *beautify* the area and then fall off of the curb you did not see and wind up on your hands and knees in the gutter.

Yup, been there and done that. (LOL)

Now, as for the manager at the supermarket, there is some Federal Law which states that all organizations must employ at least one complete jerk.

Cy, The Anasazi Denver, Colorado

**9. The issue of the chicken is easy. Don't buy the chicken.
The issue of the white cane is more difficult. The embarrassment that little sister feels when carrying the cane is natural. Most people do not want to be seen as being different. Little sister may have to overcome her embarrassment or deal with a life of isolation resulting from a lack of independence. Perhaps she can dye her hair bright orange and get a large nose piercing and no one will notice the cane.


**10. lady should have told the manager to go back and get some chickens with the stickers attached. Or she could have asked him to put the stickers back on the chicken. And she should have obtained the name of the guy above the manager and reported the "discrimination" to him. and she should have done these things loudly and without rushing. There's no need to be ashamed of being a VIP and of using a cane.
And that's the underlying issue. How can you stick up for yourself and your rights if you don't believe you have any rights?

Anita Cohn

**11. Sounds like Little Sis has not come to terms with her blindness. She seems to expect special treatment because she is blind, yet on the other hand, she does not want anyone to know she is blind, so she leaves the cane at home. Maybe she should put discounted items like the couponed chicken in the separate compartment of the grocery cart away from the regular stuff. She cannot expect to have the store change their policies because she is ashamed of being blind. What would have it taken to ask the employee in the meat department to help her so that she could have had the check out ironed out before removing the discount coupon from the chicken, or better yet, to have her sister help her out in checking out. This young lady has some serious problems that she needs to deal with, or her life will be nothing but misery for herself and those around her.

Jim Theall, Longmont, CO

**12. I understand the person's shame of being blind because of the long-held notions some people today still have about blindness. However, accepting and adjusting to being blind is something that'll have to take place sooner or later; hopefully sooner. Whether you are riding in a car with a stranger or a relative (or friend), it's best to have your cane with you and to have it out even if you are going sighted guide. Yes, people will see that you're blind, but your blindness is a reality that cannot and shouldn't be hidden, especially if something went wrong--you and your friend got separated in the store, her arms are full of groceries that she cannot help you maneuver around obstacles, etc. In short, the slogan used for American Express should be applied to your cane "Don't leave home without it."

Linda MN

**13. This seems like a "no brainer." Why not ask my sister to go back to the meat counter and pick up two more chickens with the coupons stuck on? Then I get the discount.

Karen in Berkeley

**14. It always amazes me when people are unwilling to use their canes. At least with a cane, when you're standing there looking lost people know why. If you didn't have a cane they might think you are stupid or something. I guess being visually impaired my whole life I can't really sympathize with a person who becomes visually impaired later on. I would rather have people see the cane and realize that I can't see, then have them ignore me or get mad at me because I'm in the way or because I'm not moving fast enough.

That thing with the coupons made me mad. I would have left the store. Or at the very least I would have demanded to know where it said in writing that a coupon would be void if it was removed from the item it was for. In my opinion they were just being obnoxious because they didn't think she would call them on it. She should have left and her sister should have left too. And they should have been very vocal as they left about why they were leaving. After all, word of mouth is a very powerful publicity tool. If it was me, I also would have written a letter to the corporate office to let them know what happened and how I felt about it. But that's just me.


**15. Yes, there is help for this blind person. I would have taken my cane, and not removed the coupons from the chicken. I have never done that. The mangeer was about

Edwin Yakubowski

**16. I've met lots of people like that. One time Lisa, a friend, went to our state convention without her cane because she was ashamed of it. I think she got over this in a hurry though. And David refused to bring his to the first state convention we attended, and nearly plowed through a waiter and destroyed a wedding cake. Lesson learned!

Lori Stayer New York

**17. I'm not sure this story is about blindness. To me, it's about a "rules are the rules" manager who won't, or can't, look at a unique situation. I've been there, done that, got the T shirt. However, there have been more times when people have bent, or broken the rules to cut me some slack when they see I'm doing my part. Being perceived as a good sport, friendly, maybe sexy, helps, but most of it is just dumb luck. Our protagonista just happened to run into a grouch.

Abby Vincent ACB-L listserv

**18. The cane would not have made any difference. It's a tool, not a sword.

Robert Shelton

**19. Poor woman, she is going through that very difficult transition called losing vision. It is a transition which I will never fully understand because being born totally blind I was spared it. I have, however, had many conversations with friends who have lost their vision later in life and they have helped me to sympathize totally. This incident got her thinking though; "Should I have used my cane?" Once she learns that it is ok to be blind, she will have a cane with her and a note-taking device. Next time she'll have her redemption.

Angela Fowler NFB Writers' Division Mailing List

**20. The cane issue is irrelevant here. The problem was the ass of a manager. A simple threat to notify the newspaper might have worked.
Of course, once made, the threat must be carried out if satisfaction is not gained. A threat to contact the store owners alleging discrimination against the disabled might work too, but again, must be followed up if the issue is not resolved. A more direct confrontation with the manager might also have been useful.

The mention of the cane rather interferes with the real issue here, it was unnecessary and the last words of the piece distract from the actual difficulty.

Dan Blind-X listserv

**21. For all of you that are out their and have had vision loss from birth this is what I call this being between a rock and a hard place. I have been a high partial all of my younger life till I reached the age of 40 , and then my retina detached, the doctor got it reattached with a lot of laser surgeries over three months. well I went to a city school to low vision classis and ,then to a regular high school with some support help- not much looking back on it. Well after all of the various surgeries I needed to use a cane , but I did not want to be "blind" so ,I would shove the folded up cane in my purse or tote bag, till one day I was in a large crowd and it was very dark and I went in the wrong door and almost fell off a loading dock area. If someone was not close to me I could of hurt myself badly. So after that I carried my cane to let the people around me know that I am blind. but along with this do some of you feel that you become an non - identity , that you are not there as they just look through you? If you use a dog this changes the situation and how people see you , well they see the dog and this breaks ice and they relate to the dog in a different way than the cane.

Abby as you said read the book , saw the movie , got the t-shirt.
I find the one thing that does change is dealing with your family such as her sister , my sister has said to me in the past, do you need to take your dog in to Wendy's, just leave him in the car , this has happened several times and different kinds of weather ,hot cold and very hot and cold. It is some times hard to teach your family to deal with the changes than the regular public as they know the best for you right. So in the long run , it is hard to give up being normal and use a cane as my husband calls it an "idiot STICK". for your own safety and you may not had that problem in the store , as far as the coupon thing the checkers do not look for them most of the time.

Terrie Arnold ACB-L listserv

**22. In my humble opinion this lady is being really stupid. She has a tool to give her freedom and supportive family to make it happen but she is afraid people will stare at her if she uses it. So what? She probably looks a lot stupider with chicken coupons taped all over her forearms. Can't she just ask her sister which coupon is which? If this chick ever accepts herself as blind, her life will be a lot easier. And she'll probably look a lot more elegant if she sharpens her blindness skills.

Mike Sivill

23. I am sure this lady will come to her senses, someday. We all have to fight with blindness; who wants it, but life is bigger and stronger and we, most of us, will adjust. But really, not all of us adjust to the same degree as the next gal. Some of us are naturally stronger or maybe it is our early childhood and how we are treated then; some come out stronger than others. But it also has to do with the influence we get after we start going blind; if you hook up with someone with a positive and enlightened outlook like the NFB, then you have a good chance to make it good.

Sally Rightworth

**24. One, she should have known that removal of the coupons voided the sale. Two, she should have chosen another method to remember her coupons, rubber bands, or something, even, great galloping horrors a note written in braille. Ignorance is *not*
an excuse. Just because you're blind doesn't mean you can circumvent rules.

As for the cane, that's certainly a personal issue that needs to be address by each newly blind individual, but I will say here that it wouldn't be half so difficult for folks if we didn't have an hundred thousand years of stigma attached to being blind to deal with. Yes, a hundred thousand years. The moment a creature becomes intelligent he or she collects people around him who are like him. Different people are bad! Different people are dangerous! Different people are unproductive! Different people are to be pitied! All this we have to struggle against every day, and joining this motley crew of fighters isn't the greatest enlistment on the planet.

>Ann K. Parsons>

**25. In response to this thought provoker:

As someone who has also lost their vision, and at one time hated their cane too, for this person some help in the matter of learning to deal with her blindness. I am not talking about the type of adjustment you would get as far as learning Braille, independent living, computer skills, orientation and mobility, but the type of adjustment for our mental well being. A good counselor who could help such a person sort through the issues that we deal with when loosing our vision. I think our system, I.e. rehab system, in this country is lacking in the right help we as blind people need to learn to live with the psycho-social issues that come with the adjustment to the disability. There are so many issues that come with the los of our vision, and for this person the hatred of using the cane is normal. Why use a white cane that would draw attention to our selves, that would make us stick out like a sore thumb, and in some cases would make people think they have to feel sorry for us. Only over time does a person come to accept that blindness and all that comes with it. Not to say that someone who has been blind all their life does not deal with issues, but the knowledge that we have to use a cane, and that instead of letting society think what they do, we as blind people have to educate them. There is a serious lack of this psycho-social adjustment in our rehab system, and until we can help those blind people deal with the loss, we will continue to have discrimination, low employment rates, and so forth in the blind community.

Marsha Lindsey

**26. Ah good store manager no problem. Those particular chickens seem unacceptable anyhow, Please restock them as I do not want them. And this problem will make very interesting material for Channel 5's Customer challenges since your store makes no reasonable accommodation to assist a blind person with their shopping. Oh you do accommodate, you would have helped me if I'd asked. Fine I'm asking. Would you please go and get me two of the couponed sale chickens with the longest expiration dates available? I'll just wait here. Thank you.

And no, if I choose to not use my cane, and would rather wait a moment to adjust to new lighting when I enter a store like many people do, it's my choice and I don't have to wear anybody's expected costume in order to expect appropriate treatment when I inform a store employee I don't see well and need assistance or accommodation.

Kathy Seven Williams OandM listserv

**27. This could have been written to describe a woman one of our friends is dating. She can't see very much, even in good light, and is covered with bruises. Even so, she refuses to use a cane, because "people will know I'm blind." I tried to point out that between her bruises and her groping, tripping, and bumping into large, easily avoided objects, she's a dead giveaway. She insisted she would use a cane when she needed one and proceeded to trip off the edge of the sidewalk, almost stumbling into a passing vehicle before our friend yanked her to safety, causing the driver to screech to a halt and holler, "Hey lady, are you blind or drunk!"

Carolyn Gold FL-

**28. I can certainly see Abbey's point that this TP is about an inflexible store manager, but there is much more to this story. First, it's about a guy who is angry about his blindness and about his growing inability to manage without having to use the hated cane. Having gone from low-vision to blind, I hated the necessity of having to use the cane because I felt very blind every time I picked it up. However, once I learned how to use it, I was able to stop depending on my elder sister for getting around, and I was actually able to go places on my own. That certainly did not make me fall in love with the cane--not by a long shot. On the other hand, I sure felt better about life when I could do what I wanted and not have to depend on someone else to do it.

The other thing that struck me as sort of funny about this TP is the attitude of the sister. I found her annoying, and quite honestly, I don't know too many sighted people (either in my family or elsewhere) who would be as enlightened as this sister. Usually, they're pretty much uninformed about blindness (and this is especially true for someone who's related to a newly blinded person). As a result, they're typically overly solicitous, and sometimes, they become resentful over time because of all the help they end up providing--usually at their own insistence. Anyway, this sister is not a believable character to me, but maybe my family is just unenlightened.

So what's the answer to this TP? Well, over time, it answers itself.
Eventually, the guy (if he's at least of average motivation and
intelligence) will get tired of depending on others and of all the inconveniences that result from being dependent on others. Then, he'll start to pick up the cane, and with time, he'll get more familiar with it and with the independence that comes his way as a result. This process can be helped by his meeting other blind people and/or through some training and/or support through a rehab agency or a local affiliate of one of the consumer groups. If it happens that this guy does not eventually pick up the cane and start using it, then he'll keep depending on people--many of whom will allow him to do so, and some of whom will get tired of helping and fade away from him. Ultimately, I think he'll have a pretty mediocre life experience as a result.

Ron Brooks Phoenix, AZ ACB-L

**29. There are many things a newly visually impaired person is angry at. The cans they can't read in the grocery store. The size on that garment in the department store. The fact that the world is visually oriented and you are no longer a part of that world. Frustration, pain, anger and a reticence to try those things that will normalize your life. It's not a matter of salvation, but a willingness to deal with reality and live according to a brand new bunch of parameters.

Judith NFB Writers' Division Mailing list

**30. On reading this TP I really got the impression that the experience in the store with the coupons might have been the turning point in the blind character's life. He/she (for some reason I believe this character is a woman) walked out of the store feeling very ashamed.
At first she was talking about resentment of her sister, her blindness, the cane, the store manager and life in general. At the end she honestly got to the point of admitting that she was ashamed. Shame isn't pretty but it is often the first step toward enlightenment. I wouldn't want to stay ashamed for long but it is certainly a small step on the road to honesty and understanding of life as it is.

Chris Colter ACB-L

**31. My first 30 years were lived as a visually impaired person who believed that he could see just as good as the next fellow. One could say that this was a sign of accommodating one's disability.
Or it could be said that I was in total denial. Which ever. I got by until that fateful day in 1965 when I became totally blind.
This is when I was forced to confront that hidden image I held of what a blind man was.
As a small boy, I had often gone to town with my dad. We would pass the corner by the J. C. Penny store where a blind beggar sat playing his accordion. This man knew how to work the crowd. He played while he tilted his head upward, with his eyes rolled back and his mouth wide open. He had the appearance of a total idiot.
I do not recall ever seeing another blind person. And this image was buried in my brain.
So, when I became a blind man, naturally I knew that this was to be my fate.
I recall asking my Rehab Teacher how I would avoid looking like a blind man.
And when I attended the training program at the state services for the blind, I hated going out with, "Those People", the other students.
At home I would wait until dark to go out into the back alley and practice using my travel cane. I hated that cane! It always reminded me that I was blind.
Adjustment comes to each of us in it's own way.
For a few it is an, "AhHa!" moment.
But for most of us it is a gradual transition.
I know that for me it was the day that I said, "by God, I can do anything I want to do!"
Until that time, I would tell people, "I know blind people can do anything they want to do". But I had not internalized this belief. Once I did, I was on the road to living a full, productive, good life.

Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv

**32. Or, she could be one of those people like myself who loses vision very gradually over a long period of time, and even though she's been legally blind for years, still fights to avoid being seen and seeing herself through the narrow-minded lens of public misunderstanding that she has learned. I spend the first twenty-some years of my life in that in between world. I was legally blind at birth, but never had any adaptive education, unless you count them trying to get me to read large print.
I have RP, and with the severe field restriction, large print meant seeing part of a letter instead of maybe a letter and a half. I remember in college when I finally insisted that my doctor tell me what was going on -- my parents never used the "b" word -- he said something to the effect that, if I lost any more vision, he would have to insist that I learn Braille. I heard that as a threat, a punishment. It wasn't until after graduating from college, when a chance meeting with a trainer from the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in Smithtown, NY, and the prodding's of my friends, that I got a guide dog and began to teach myself Braille.

Donna Hill NFB Writers' Division Mailing List

**33. Well, obviously this woman has not adjusted to being blind and thinks there is something wrong with herself as a person who is blind. Until she “gets over” this belief, she will not succeed very well as an independent blind person. Perhaps counseling will help her. However, when I was working, I would get people like this. Despite injuries caused from falls (not seeing curbs etc and not using a cane), they still would not use a cane. Hopefully she can get some further encouragement from her family and friends in using the cane for safety reasons at least.

Patricia LaFrance-Wolf

**34. Ok, let's not blame the manager on this one. He was only following store policy, and would have said the same thing to a sighted person. Using the cane does make a difference in public as a legally blind person, since most people are not able to tell you have a vision problem. The manager might have overlooked the fact that the woman already ripped off the coupons and granted her the sale. Notice I say "might have". The manager didn't have to do so since ripping off the coupons automatically voids the discount, no matter who you were.

Leslie Fairall Blind-X listserv

**35. One of the advantages of vision loss is I don't have to see people's expressions. If watching me educates, amuses or adds color to their lives, then so be it. I think it is a waste of time and energy to worry about what a perfect or even an imperfect stranger thinks of me. So, if I need to use a cane, waltz in with my guide dog, check my shopping list on a talking note taker, well then that is what I do. My convenience and efficiency in getting through my days outweighs what anyone thinks of me. If they see a poor little blind lady, or a remarkable one, that is all in their heads and their problem. I am me, and need to take care of my needs. Being self conscious is for adolescents, not a sixty year old woman who happens to be blind. Why make life harder on yourself to avoid an embarrassment that is complicating your life unnecessarily. As for the store manager, he needs to be taught customer service. I would just leave the chicken there and walk out, or point out that my sister's packages of chicken are identical and have the same stickers still attached, or make them go get me packages with the stickers still attached depending on how much I wanted that chicken. After all, I am the customer and they are there to serve me. I am pretty sure that if I kept a calm reasonable manner, the staff would eventually decide that making a fuss was only slowing up the line and making them look like jerks to other customers.

DeAnna Quietwater Noriega, Missouri

**36. This thought provoker reminds me of some friends of mine whose sights have begun to deteriorate when they are adolescents or adults. They still feel ashamed of their poor sights and of having to use a cane.
When I ask them why they hesitate to use their canes, they say that the cane makes them look ugly and helpless. They also say that they have friends and family members who are ready to help them when they need. however, when their situation changes, like when they have to go to a new school or country, most of the time they are left without those "good old!?" friends who were with them all the time. They then grasp the fact that friends and family might not be around forever, and they must be independent. But they suffer so much until they grasp that fact, of course.

I think it is much harder to adjust to blindness when one is adult, because the basis of a person's ideas, prejudices, opinions and even subconscious is shaped in his or her childhood and adolescence years.
Yet it is not impossible. First, this lady is relatively lucky to have a sister who reminds her to take her cane with her wherever she goes.
Family members have a lot to do in such cases. They should encourage their blind children or siblings to be independent, and they should always support them in their efforts to be independent. Next step is to encourage the person who has just become blind or partially sighted to attend a rehabilitation program. I believe that the family members or close friends should attend the same program too. That way they will understand what it means to be blind and will be able to treat the blind better. What is very important, though, is to act right the moment it is discovered that the person's sight is deteriorating, because we can not ask life to take a break until we get fully rehabilitated. Life is going on, and the newly blinded must keep up with it.

And, one small advice: Although I haven't had difficulty to adjust to blindness because I am blind from birth, I did have difficulty taking my cane with me and using it when I was a teenager, because all young girls want to look good, and I too thought that the cane made me look bad. I told this to a blind counselor I knew, and she told me to carry it with me all the time even when I am not using it. That helped me a lot to get used to it. Step by step, I too realized that I had to use it to be independent. In order to overcome my shame, I named my first cane after my favourite teacher. I did this because a favorite teacher is a good guide for a student, and I would be guided by my cane all my life. Those who had sight before may fasten some pretty looking accessories to their cane to make it more pleasant to eyes and to get used to it more easily. Now I am not ashamed of using my cane.
It frees me from having to rely on others and from having to depend on them always. Now my friends and family members are not my care givers, so, I enjoy their friendship and love better.

Hande Keykubat, Istanbul, Turkey.

**37. Umm... Stop birding out! Get the darn cane! Being a lifelong total blindy, I have nowhere to talk as per the whole sight loss thing, but in my life I would not be caught dead in a grocery store without that flippen cane. It's my everything. It's my dog that doesn't pee or poop.

Ben J. Bloomgren NABS

**38. Well, I never remove anything from packages of grocery items. I would not want to void any discounts. If I pick up a manager's special, I leave the coupons on and let the checker take care of it.


39. I bring my cane everywhere now. It is another appendage. It brings respect and dignity. Human nature is a funny thing. Without it, I find some people jump to erroneous conclusions. They see a wobbly unsteady person without the cane and they think something is wrong with that person's character. She is rude, drunk, drug addict, mentally unstable, etc. The imagination takes them well beyond simplicity. Quick to judge that there might be a deeper defect other then just blindness. But, this has taught me a great lesson, also. I have learned not to be quick to judge, as I have done the same on occasion. I once was disturbed by a child acting out terribly while I was trying to pay attention to shopping one day. It was a major distraction and I found myself getting annoyed. Someone shouted at the mother to shut her kid up. She quietly explained that her child had Autism. She handed the person a business card with an Autism awareness website on it. She did herself and her child proud. I was ashamed of myself, but learned a lesson. Now I think, before I think something bad. When people see my cane, they are benevolent and kinder. I wish it were not that way, and people were just kinder in general. The cane makes going out more efficient and speaks for me.

Virginia Sblendorio

...FROM ME- This is the lady who the story is about.

**40. Personally, I don't believe that little sister had the trouble at the supermarket because she left her cane at home. she had the problems because she was silly enough to pull off the tags on the chicken she wanted to purchase.
I do believe, though, that she should always carry a cane just in case she is separated from her sighted guide. a cane makes a person more confident.

Veronica smith Rio Rancho, NM

**41. I can relate to feeling for steps, trying to follow people using limited sight, and disliking canes. Some of the words used in this story were almost identical to phrases I used in my forthcoming book, "Carmella's Quest: Taking on College Sight Unseen," which will be published by Red Letter press of Columbia SC in early 2009. The book is a memoir about my first year of college, and addresses (among a lot of other things) where I was in my own adjustment to blindness at that time. Though I'd been legally blind since birth, I hadn't used a cane until high school and rarely used it then. I resented needing to use it and felt it made me stand out in a negative way as being different from my peers. I felt it would cause people to just think Carmella = blind person and that most people wouldn't be willing to look beyond that association. I felt that people treated me differently when I used the cane and just really wanted to fit in and seem "normal." I found using a cane to be awkward and embarrassing, probably due in part to the fact that I didn't use it often enough to truly be comfortable with it and also because I overanalyzed the situation.

This attitude was still present when I started college. I describe my thoughts and feelings during the first several chapters of "Carmella's Quest." I didn't think boys would want to date me or that girls would be as likely to befriend me and I wanted both of those things very much. In the book, I describe having all these feelings but knowing I would have to use the cane, at least until I got familiar with campus. My goal was to be able to put it away as quickly as possible and that is exactly what I did. Once I knew the layout of campus and where the various flights of steps were located, I rarely used the cane. To me, at the time, that was something to be proud of, but I also relate several instances when having my cane with me would have been very helpful and how scary it was, and even possibly dangerous, to be trying to go around campus without it.

I was honest about all this in the book and know I'll very likely take flack for it. I'm okay with that. I never say this is the way I think others should handle the situation and would most likely do it differently now. At the time, though, I was 17 and not as comfortable in my own skin and did what I did. I certainly wasn't going to lie about it to avoid criticism. Another thing that I'm sure I'll get flack for is my insistence on using a CCTV in my classes. Again, I might do things differently now, but had what I felt were very valid reasons for making the choices I made at the time.

I wouldn't recommend all this to any partially sighted person. I would encourage that person to have good cane skills and to always have their cane with them, even if they don't generally need it. There are times for most people who are considered legally blind that depth perception or lighting will be problematic and it is better to be safe than sorry. I would also encourage those in this category to think about how much effort they put into using the small amount of vision they have and if this energy could be freed up for other things if they weren't working so hard to see. It can be a constant strain and a constant stressor and may even be unsafe or make us look less capable because we appear clumsy or timid. I also think it is a good idea to be up front with new friends, or even old friends if sight loss is a new thing, about what can and can't be seen and times when using a cane or needing more help might be more necessary.

I also did a lot of sighted guide stuff during that time. I worked this to my advantage with the guys I knew and liked. I'm not ashamed to admit that either. These days, and for the past 12 years, I've had guide dogs as my means of mobility assistance and love working with dogs. I think others can relate to them and also feel able to move more quickly and safely. I talk about my choice to get a dog in the Afterward of "Carmella's Quest." I had experienced additional sight loss prior to getting my first dog and knew my days of walking that blind vs partially sighted line were over and that I would have to start using a cane or dog on a daily basis. I'm not saying either way is better. Each person has to decide what is best for them and their situation. I think each has pros and cons. The most important thing, in my mind, is that those with limited sight have access to training and can make use of whatever mobility aid they prefer. I think people need to have decent cane skills before training with a dog and it is best to keep these up, in case one's dog gets sick or a person is in a situation where they have to be separated from their dog, etc. Just don't ask me if I practice what I preach here, because I haven't pulled my cane out in a very long time. I know I should, though, and also know I may have to use it again in the near future as my dog is getting older and I haven't decided yet about the when and where to retrain. I think that, if I had gotten a dog sooner than I did, before the additional sight loss, I would have been one of those who still kept trying to rely on my own sight and would have messed the dog up. I should have been using my cane more up until then. I also went from using the CCTV all the time to getting a lap top with JAWS, which I used throughout graduate school.

I think the biggest thing is that we are comfortable with ourselves. Blindness is only part of who we are, but if we manage that part well, most other people won't define us only by our lack of sight loss. If we are independent and confident and comfortable with the adaptive tech and mobility devices we use, as well as being able to do chores around the house, some cooking to the extent we want to do so, and can dress ourselves properly and appear well groomed and presentable, people will respond to that. We will seem normal if we do most of the things other people do and if we don't have mannerisms or attitudes that make us seem strange. If we don't make a big deal of our blindness, they won't either. Some people might still think we're strange but we are doing what we need to, using the tools that allow us to accomplish day to day tasks, and if a few people can't deal with that, those are usually not people I need or want to have much to do with. Most people can get past their stereotypes. It is important to educate but only when and how we choose to do so. None of us lives our lives just to be "Blindness Poster Children." We just need to live our lives. Kind of like religion, people are more interested in what we do than in what we say.

I don't know exactly what the second part of the story has to do with the first part. Maybe it is just all about adjustment to blindness and walking the tightrope between total blindness and partial sight stuff. I know we have all probably had experiences that left us feeling embarrassed and frustrated and it is always a struggle to know what to do about situations like that. I describe several of my own such experiences in "Carmella's Quest." Again, I think the more comfortable I became with myself, the more I could let things like that go or choose how to respond from a place of reason rather than from a sensitive place of emotion. That isn't always the case, to this day, but it is better. Back then, such encounters just mortified me and I would get so frustrated but still wouldn't speak up for myself.

Just some thoughts from my own experiences.

Carmella Broome, Ed.S, LPC, LMFT/I
Individual, Couples, and Family Therapist
Crossroads Counseling Center
Lexington SC

**42. This is where the disabled must concede. Regardless of her intentions, she should not
have torn off the coupon. One reason is because this could be regarded as semi-shoplifting.
People often do switch price labels on things, to get it cheaper. Furthermore, the blind
shopper might get distracted, or the label might fall off her arm, and she won't actually
buy the item. What happens then?

As for the cane, that is something she must reconcile in her own mind, but for other
reasons beside personal pride. I say this as a sighted person: your cane is for my
benefit, too. The red tip is a sign to me. Red is universally understood to mean
"Stop: Yield right of way!" The white part is actually a reflector. If I am driving at night,
the white part of your cane will make it easier for me to see it, and react.

However, when I do react, I understand your cane to be merely a tool. You use it
to direct yourself from one place to another. I see it no differently than a wheelchair,
a car, a bike, or a pair of glasses (which I am legally required to wear while driving).

Not all sighted people will react so casually. They often have rude or superstitious
reactions, much like staring at a house fire: It's scary, yet fascinating. They are
spooked by the cane, but don't try to regard the person holding it.

This attitude is picked up by the blind, and their reaction is also one of revulsion.
Blind people will be disgusted at the thought of sighted people seeing them with a
cane. It will take effort on both sides to resolve this.

If a sighted person approached you casually, just like any other human being, that
should help. "Oh, a cane," he thinks. "No big deal. What's on your mind, Mister Jones?"
Would you then be more relaxed?

David Lafleche

**43. I don't think the solution is for the sighted sister to stop offering rides or any other assistance to her sister. There are probably enough people shutting this woman out at this juncture in her life. What she needs is someone she loves to be frank with her about the way things are and to lead her toward change. For one thing, when the sighted sister provides a ride, the blind sister should be expected to reciprocate in some way:
by paying for the gas, by helping with her sister's grocery bill, etc. As for the blind sister not being able to redeem her coupon: she needs to realize that rules are rules, and if she considers herself a member of society first and foremost, she needs to remember that rules were made for everyone--including her. As one of my very good friends and mentors likes to say to his students, "Society does not care that you're blind."
Either this woman will learn to fit in with the way things are in the sighted world, or she won't. It's just that simple.

Kimberly in KC

**44. I'm surprised at the number of people who felt the store manager should have given this lady the discount, even though she took the coupon off the chicken. True, she couldn't read it and didn't know what the rules were, or if she did know, she thought they'd make an exception, because she's blind.
But, there are a lot of different rules for discounts, these days.
Sometimes the coupon will be removed by the cashier...other times, it's left there and can only be used for the next purchase. So, if she violated the rules, he had a right to not give her the discount...whether she was blind or not. Maybe, the next time, she'll ask someone about the terms of redeeming the coupon.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, PA

**45. I like this one. I think it shows how people suddenly or slowly lose vision can say "No I'm not blind, my eyes are just having a off day". Besides that I'm not sure how else to put it but, teach a person losing vision to earn blindness skills and really use the white cane.

Sean Moore

**46.It sounds like the person in the story felt ashamed about being blind. The person seemed as if they were not comfortable with bringing the cane with them even if it was just making a quick trip to the store. It also sounds like she is putting the blame on the cane when it is her own falt for not bringing the cane with her in the first place.

Rania, New Jersey

**47. In reading this story I was reminded of how I felt when first learning to travel with a cane. I was fifteen and did not really understand the purpose of traveling with a cane. After all my Mom took me every where and around Perkins school I got along fine without a cane. But as my senior year approached and even before I began to understand what independence a cane could give me. I learned this fast after leaving Perkins and gained a sense of freedom and independence in my twenties and beyond.

This woman has to learn to depend less on her vision and to relish the freedom the white cane can give her. Learning Braile would be a great help because she could put coupons in a Brailled envelope. As time goes on I hope she can get rid of the negative feelings about her blindness, perhaps a stay at the Carroll center or another center would be quite helpful. Let's hope that in the future she can learn the joy of using her white cane, and that it is a badge of independence.

friend ship and Merry christmas
Karen Crowder

**48. I am not so sure I should send this thought provoker #139. It is quite an angry one. The last thought provoker made me angry. I know people are people, but there is quite a lot of prejudice in the blind community and to discover it is troubling to me. These are my personal thoughts and I do not apologize for them. I am so confused about vision loss, what is expected of me, what I am supposed to learn and get out of it that I have decided that it is me that matters. Who I am at the end of the day is more important to me then cane skills. Unless you are aware of what you want, and who even knows what that is, the people who are out there to help you, don't offer much. I understand there is a personal responsibility element to all of this, but a little assistance and participation from the people who are supposed to work with you would not be a bad idea. I guess I was hoping there would be someone who could anticipate the needs of someone losing their sight. Having been in the business, they would have some insights into the physical and psychological aspects of vision loss in all of its spectrums. I don't know, maybe I am rambling, but I have spent more than a decade squandering around. I FEEL LIKE A BIG FAT LOSER. A BIG FAT USELESS BLIND LOSER at that. My social workers don't seem to be able to direct me and I don't know exactly what to ask for. I am expecting guidance from them and feel like I am wandering in a blind maze with them. Also, when a sighted person has psychological issues, it is bad enough, but compound that with going blind and you have major problems.

As a child growing up, my parents had nine children. They were not about to be burdened by one of them losing their eyesight, let alone two. Ignoring the problem made their lives more tolerable. Denial made it easier. I caught flack for doing things different than my siblings, but it got done. You learned to make your own way despite being criticized for the way you made it. You made it on your own or you didn't. It is very difficult for me to ask for help, especially when I was taught not to. I am too old to change that aspect of my life to any great degree, other blind people need to realize what it means to ask for help. It can be a very vulnerable awkward undertaking and others should not judge. Some people are just stupid and ignorant, blind or not.

Thanks for allowing me to vent. Thought Provoker is really a thought provoker. Now I know why you won an award.

Virginia (the author of this TP)

**49. Hmm; I never knew it is store's policy, sometimes, that coupons be left on the item to which they apply. I would have thought, as our character did, tearing them off and putting them somewhere makes sense to me and makes sure they are redeemed.

Depending on my financial situation, I might have demanded the coupons be redeemed since I couldn't see where it said not to do it. I doubt the cane would have made much of a difference, except to let people know she had a vision problem and navigating a parking lot is never fun, but I prefer a mobility aid to do that.