On occasion The Lovely and Talented Margaret and I will decide we want to go out to eat. Sometimes we go to high end places like Texas Roadhouse, but usually it’s more of a mom n pop type diner place. Most places are a little dark, but even if the place isn’t that dark, I just can’t see the menu. I hate sitting there while Margaret reads it to me. It’s embarrassing, and yes, you can feel people staring at you. Also, and I have no proof of this, but I think Margaret “sanitizes” the choices available. She always tries to sneak in vegetables or some other such nonsense. I am a meat and potato guy who just happens to be a diabetic. I don’t really pay much attention to that. I mean I have a doctor, that’s her job to take care of it, right? I only have diet coke with my JD, or just ice with my JD depending on my mood and rarely have dessert. There is a limit to what a man can do! Back to the subject. Let me explain the process I have for when we go out.
Technology and the web are invaluable tools for the visually impaired. A few hours before we head out, I get on my computer. I have a 50″ monitor, add to that I use ZoomText to magnify the image to 3 times the original, and JAWS to read what is on the screen to me. I search for the website of the place we want to go to, download the menu, convert it to a document file which the screen reader will recognize and just like that (about a half hour to 45 minutes) I have the menu read to me. From there I decide what I want, including sides and my drink, and commit my order to memory. I am ready, I am prepared, I will order my meal without assistance or embarrassment. Confidence is high. I look to Margaret and say “Let’s Roll.”
On the way there, I practice in my mind. This does two things. One, builds my confidence, and Two, takes my mind off of how The Lovely and Talented Margaret drives. We arrive and take a seat. The waiter brings us two menus and sets one in front of me even though everyone in there now knows I am blind. Bless his/her little heart. Then comes my moment. The stage is set. The waiter asks Margaret, “Are you ready to order?” No problem ladies first and all. Then they say it, “And what can I get him?”
Like I’m not even there. Come on Man!! I’m 6 feet tall and fat, you have to know I’m here. I have a cane, I’m wearing sunglasses inside. You can see can’t you? Do you think I’m deaf? Am I repulsive in some way?
Do you think I can’t talk? Does my blindness make me unable to know what I want? You think I’m stupid?Were you born stupid or were you repeatedly dropped on your head as a child?
Calmer heads prevailed as Margaret kicked me under the table and in a non agitated voice said, “I don’t know, you will have to ask him.” I wish I could tell you that this was a isolated incident but it is far from it. I follow many Visually Impaired People on social media, through support groups, and just from talking with friends, almost all have a similar story to tell. From restaurants, to coffee shops, grocery stores, everywhere we go with a sighted person (affectionately referred to as a Service Human) we seemed to be ignored. I have only been blind a few years, but this is a phenomenon that I will never understand, much less accept.
Is it possible that the sighted (bless your little hearts) think that we visually impaired have given up? We can’t think for ourselves? We can’t function without sight? You need to know that you cannot be farther from the truth. We may have lost our sight, but we have not lost our vision. Yes some things are more difficult, and yes they may take more time to complete, but we find a way. Do not ignore me, do not dismiss me, do not insult me, most importantly … I WANT A MEDIUM RARE STEAK WITH A BAKED POTATO NO DAMN VEGETABLES.