I forget people can see me rolling my eyes. To be honest, I forget people can see.
When you have never seen a face clearly before as everyone is just a blur, you kind of forget that the sighted world sees everything. They especially see the things that you really don’t want them to see, such as eye rolling that I am rather partial too. Ooooops.
With a face that just cannot lie, I let my eyes roll upwards and to the side to try and search for a polite answer to the snappy sounding store assistant that stood before me. I am usually far more patient, but I had just experienced this London Bus Syndrome senario where for the third time in less than twenty minutes those dreaded four words were directed at me. To others, the words “you don’t look blind” may seem like a compliment and it is in a way but when it is said in an accusing tone, it really isn’t a compliment. It was this third London Bus that day that had come along after a drought of these well-meaning buses that had triggered the lively eyes rolling in my head.
Maybe my reaction was slightly more emphasised after she had said that she had “seen a lot of blind people in this shop and you don’t look like them”. A spluttered giggle remained inside of me. A colourful phrase stayed inside my head and did not escape my lips. What was more surprising was, I even managed to not bite back to her curt accusing tone with a crocodile snap of my own. The other two previous people who had stopped to cheery chat and said I didn’t look blind meant it in a positive light but this lady was different. She was like many we had come across in the past, which were the worst kind. The Sceptic.
Walking around with a physical disability feels like you sometimes need to carry medical evidence around with you to thrust in somebody’s face to validate yourself and prove their ignorance wrong. I understand that the primary source of information that many in the sighted world use to make decisions is their vision, but I sometimes wish it wasn’t as looks can be so deceiving. Having a unusual looking striking guide dog does not help with the stereotyping of what a blind person or a guide dog should look like either which she also picked up on. This apparent expert on not only what “blind people look like” but also an expert in the field of guide dogs as her next door neighbours aunt had one, thought that a Labradoodle like Munch was not a guide dog. The ignorance of others can really make your mind boggle. It does make me thankful that I do not use my eyes alone to make judgements on people that I know nothing about. Now that would be living with true blindness.
I really hope that my parting words to her would help her to broaden her narrow outlook on life, but I somehow doubt it. Cheerily uttering the words “we don’t all look the same” filled the silence between us with no reply from her as we bid her goodbye. Whether or not this planted seed will grow a more open way for her to see the world or not, I feel like I did my bit. I am still working on my poker face whilst persuading my overtly rolling eyes to calm down whilst in such situations, so maybe I will get there someday. Until then I will continue to clench my teeth and smile sweetly in my non blind looking way.
Judging will always say more about the person judging than the one being judged.