No, I’m not just making an Arrested Development reference for the heck of it.
I know you may mean well and are really just trying to help, but don’t grab me when you want to guide me somewhere.
I’ve had this happen before, but an incident that happened on Monday just got under my skin.
As part of a mobility lesson with rehab, I was getting on a light rail train downtown and taking it down five or six stops to meet my instructor. It was the third ride like that which I had taken that morning, with another light rail trip and a bus ride.
Anyways, when I got onto the train, a lady saw me with my cane and offered me her seat. I started to walk towards where I thought she was, but apparently wasn’t exactly on track. She decided to just grab my shoulders and basically push me to the seat.
If I grabbed her and had tried to move her, I would have gotten slapped. Twice. Once by her, and once by my wife when I told her about that bonehead thing I did today. But. for some reason, people think it’s ok to just grab a blind person and steer them like a car or something.
Remember, I can’t see that you’re about to grab me. When someone unexpectedly grabs me, it surprises me. When, after that, they decide to steer me, it throws off my balance. I’m clumsy enough just standing still on my own, the sudden shifts don’t help anything.
It’s not that I mind the help, I promise that I don’t. What I do mind is someone invading my personal space and potentially screwing up my balance.
If you want to help out a blind person, just ask if you can guide them. More often than not, we’ll say yes. Then simply offer us an elbow to grab onto. That’s how we’re trained to let folks guide us, after all.