The first “Sh*t People Say…” videos I saw were the ”Sh*t Asian Mom’s Say” and its counterpart, ”Sh*t Asian Dads Say.”

Then came a whole slew of SPS… videos. Some were funny, some were not. Some were pretty accurate; like in the above video, ”Sh* People Say to Blind People.”, I’ve gotten many of the very same questions and comments. I’m not bothered by most of the things said to me because I know people generally don’t mean harm nor disrespect, and more often than not, they’re candidly curious. Sometimes, things are said to me out of ignorance, and I usually don’t mind those either. But there have been occasions where I felt patronized by stuff people have said to me.

One situation that immediately comes to mind was when I was going through security checkpoint at an airport. TSA employees are often well-trained in handling people with vision and other disabilities. But tell me if you don’t think this conversation I had with a TSA employee was heinous:

TSA employee: You’re flying by yourself?”
Me: Yes.
TSA employee: You’re not afraid to fly by yourself when you’re blind?
Me: No. I fly all the time by myself.
TSA employee: I can’t believe you’re blind. You look so normal.
Me: I AM normal!

What I really wanted to do was shake the man and yell, “Don’t you know I survived MasterChef, biatch?!” Flying by myself is a piece of cake!

As a vision impaired person, have you encountered any ridiculous questions or comments? How did you react? As a sighted person encountering someone blind, what have you asked or said? No big deal—like I’d said, I am not an overly sensitive person (despite all the crying I did on “MasterChef” season 3), but I, like everyone else, do like being treated with mutual respect.

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17 Discussion to this post

  1. Anon says:

    The worst comments are the ones where people say “I’m so sorry you’re blind”. I don’t get offended by the vast majority of questions but the “I’m sorry for you” ones really bother me. It’s tempting to say “I’m sorry you’re dumb”.

  2. Rudy Navarro says:

    Here's something that happens to me all the time. I'm speaking to a call center agent and I need to either get them some information or write something down.

    Me: Can you please slow down, I'm visually impaired and need some extra time to write down the information.

    The Agent: STARTS TALKING REALLY LOUD

    Me: (starting in a low calm voice) I can hear just fine, it's MY VISION I'M HAVING AN ISSUE WITH.

    Then there's the long moment of silence followed by a voice so low that I can barely hear it. Happens almost EVERY time 🙂

  3. When I first lost the center vision in my left eye, and also had cataracts, I was talking to a teacher who I had known for several years. She got up close and really was looking at my eye. She said, "I can't see anything wrong with your eye,,". She seemed to be just curious.
    I told her that it is way down deep, inside my eye, the retina, and there is nothing to see!
    A few years later, the other eye also was affected with AMD. I did have the cataract removed on the "good eye", before I knew I had AMD in it, too, hoping I would be able to renew my drivers license. After the surgery, I still couldn't see correctly and found I had AMD in it, too.
    I was embarrassed when, at a funeral, my daughter suddenly took my hand and was leading me around the funeral home and the cemetery. She had never done that. I use a can, due to bad knees, and lack of depth perception. The dr. wanted me to use it to help balance and keep me from falling. I'm okay on a flat surface that is open, but, I guess she was looking at all the holes and uneven ground at the cemetery.
    Then, last year, at our all school reunion, my sister and several of my classmates, just took my hand and lead me around. I was embarrassed because I didn't ask them for help. But I was glad that they did. I couldn't tell who the pep[;e were at the tables/ And I had to ask for help with the buffet.
    Most people are very nice and helpful. My daughter does most of the reading and writing for me. She just puts her finger where she wants me to sign things!
    I do still , sometimes, try to write things, but I can't read what I wrote! I have a wide art pen for drawing, with India Ink, that works pretty well for me But I still love to just put "pen to paper". Same ting for drawing. I can't see what I just put down, but I do try
    A hard thing , for me, was to ask for help. I am shy. But, now, I just blurt it out without thinking!
    One new thing that happened this week was that the exterminator came. He has been coming for several years. I knew he was coming so went to the door. I asked him if he is he same man who has ben coming to our house.
    He gave his name and said that he was the same man.
    Then he asked, "Are you alone?"
    I was startled, but I'm sure he was only asking because he always deals with my daughter. But I didn't even think of the old response, "My husband is in the bathroom!" I'm sure he knows I don't have one so that would not be convincing.
    About that time, my family arrived and the man went on to spray the yard.
    I probably would not have though much about it, but there was a flasher in our neighborhood and police were everywhere, the next day. He was caught by night, but it made me think about what I should do if I am alone and someone comes to the door. My solution was to keep the dogs near and my alert button for the security system.
    I only have had one person to ask how I am able to use my computer, if I can't see. There are a lot of things I haven't figured out yet.
    I don't mind people asking things. Unless they have experienced things, they don't understand. As a former teacher, I guess I am always teaching!
    One early thing I experienced was signs that I can't rad. My sister and I were at an elevator in a nursing home. I could tell there was a yellow triangular sign by the elevator. But what did it say? I thought it must be some kind of warning or caution. I had to ask what it said, thinking it could be important. But what would a blind person, who was alone, do, in case the event happened!
    I've become very aware of a lot of things that I never thought about before.

    • Christine Ha says:

      I used to be embarrassed to be different when I first began losing my vision, but now I've accepted it as a part of me. Using a cane used to draw unwanted attention to me, but now I prefer the cane speak for itself rather than having to explain why I'm slower at something or need extra assistance. It's especially helpful in a crowd or when traveling.

  4. Terri says:

    I can go on for days, but here’s a few of the most ridiculous ones.

    “You’re so pretty. I’m so sorry you can’t see that.”

    “Here is your change. These are the bills and these are the coins.”

    “Do you need me to cut up your food for you?”

    • Christine Ha says:

      That second one is pretty funny. And re: the third, I actually like having my food cut up for me. #diva

  5. I also don't get offended by what people say but they do say some mighty strange things in the name of trying to identify with us. Ever have somebody tell you, especially if you've been blind all your life, that they know what you're going through because they may have clonked their head and lost some vision temporarily or at least it was reduced for a time and how scary and weird it was? Rule of thumb is if you think you know you probably don't know, so stop trying too hard. LOL!

  6. Paul says:

    Personally, I don't ask questions of blind people. I feel that life offers plenty of challenges for the visually-impaired without having to be interrogated by a stranger while you're trying to go about your business. I think the most I've ever done is asking "what floor?" when someone with a white cane was getting into an elevator. I know that the buttons have braille placards next to them, but it's a simple courtesy that is unlikely to offend anyone's dignity. Heck, I ask that question of sighted people sometimes.

    But as a sighted person, I confess that I have once or twice nearly tweeted a photo to Christine, like when I had a beautiful-looking homemade pizza margherita that was about to go into the oven. So I have a question, and I hope it won't sound too stupid: I know you don't have total vision loss, Christine, so are you still able to look at photos, with or without help from apps?

    • Christine Ha says:

      Good question. I can't really see photos, so I'll usually ask someone I'm with to describe me the photo. For something like food, I'll usually just ask, “Does it look good?” And companion will say, “Yes” or “Eh…”

      • Paul says:

        That sounds like a sensible strategy. The reason I asked is because you do so much with social media and your blog that it can become easy to forget that you don't consume media in the same way(s) that sighted people do. So thanks for the reply! Cheers.

  7. @JeffD503 says:

    Apart from you, I haven't really had a lot of interaction with someone who's blind. I've asked questions about food, since you know way more about it than me. I think the only question I've asked about your blindness is what is it like to stand in front of an audience that you can't see and speak to them.

    In RL, I'd probably be more concerned about saying something that would offend, even by accident. If I had a dime for every time I stuck my foot in my mouth, I'd probably be rich.

  8. Roshaida says:

    As a sighted person, I would cringe at some of the comments made in the video, let alone a person who is visually impaired. My only encounter with a VI person (as I've shared in your earlier post), is when I offered my assistance to lead her to her destination. Personally, if I first encounter a VI person, I will be guarded at what I say as I don't want to offend him/her.
    As I watched you cook your way to the masterchef title with your vision loss, I was full of admiration and respect for your achievement. The respect increased tenfold (maybe even more) as I started to read your blog, follow you on twitter/facebook and bought your cookbook, these are very well written that more often than not, I forget that you suffer from vision loss. I hope I am not expressing myself badly; I truly feel that you deserve all the respect and admiration for your achievements irrespective of your vision loss.

    • Christine Ha says:

      Really, I appreciate your words of encouragement. Yes, even my friends often forget I'm vision impaired because they not only view me as very capable but also because my vision loss is only a part of me, not the whole of me.

  9. Very nice and amazing one. Keep it up dear.

  10. Nicole N. says:

    I was using my cane at my worksite. There was this guy who has an office down the hall who saw me, asked if I was "looking for gold with that?" (he was pointing at the cane) I looked at him–(I probably looked stunned due to being so baffled by someone's either utter stupidity or his social incompetence, maybe he thought he could connect with me by making a joke of it–who knows, maybe he thought I was carrying the cane for the sheer thrill of it???) Anyway, I told him that I am legally blind. "Oh, I am so sorry—you don't look blind…" I have RP, I "look normal" (whatever that means nowadays, lol) but I carry the cane so sighted people are not as annoyed, puzzled as why I may walk into them in an elevator, etc..

    As I am writing this, I am still staggered as to how f554king stupid some people are. Heck, if I saw someone in a wheelchair and if the person gets up, walks to a coke machine several feet away to buy a pop—and walks back to the wheelchair to sit in—I am going to assume that maybe the guy cannot stand a long-duration of time and may require a wheelchair nearby!

    • Christine Ha says:

      I totally know where you’re coming from. I get told I look normal all the time, even from people whom I’d expect more. I chock it up to sheer ignorance and inexperience with blindness. We should educate them.

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