You know, after living on this earth for 29 years, I should be used to this by now, but it still annoys the hell out of me whenever it happens. What is it exactly? People freaking out because of the whole blindness factor.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided that my French really sucks now, and it’s about time I did something to bring it back to at least a passible level. I don’t want to say I can speak French in a job interview, and then when I’m tested, splutter like a stalled car in need of a trip to the mechanic. So I called the French department at the university where I got my minor, and admitted the horrid fact that even though I took a minor in French, it’s as good as dead in my brain, overwritten by dog commands, computer stuff, and who knows what else that I use more than French. I asked them where I could take some courses in conversational French or meet up with other like-minded folk who are struggling to keep French alive. The lady at the French department referred me to the Continuing Education Centre. “Ah!” I thought. “A lead!”
So, I called the Continuing Education Centre, and spoke to a lady who sounded like she’d spent too long breathing in the same stale air. She sounded like she was desperately in need of a nap, just being kept awake by the fear that someone might find her sleeping on the job. I told her that I needed to take a course in conversational French. She told me that there were afternoon classes and night classes, and four levels. I decided I wasn’t ready for the final level, but perhaps the level below. She said those classes were held on Thursdays. I signed up on a Wednesday. She told me that I had already missed two weeks, but it was a nine-week course, so she would give me a discount, and I could start the next day. I thought, “perfect!”
Then, I asked her where exactly was the closest bus stop. She said for getting there, I would have to cross a major street in Guelph. This was fine, until I learned I would have to J-walk. As for getting home, there was a stop right outside the building. It eventually came out that I was blind, so I guess I would have to cab there and then I’d bus home. She didn’t freak out too much, but she decided that she should let the instructor know about the blindness factor.
the next day, I got a call from the instructor. “uh, Hello. Zis is zee French teacher from zee continuing Education cen-ter. I hear you want to take zee course, French in Progress, but you cannot see. How is ziss going to work?” I’m not doing this ziss thing just because she’s teaching French. This is how she sounded. I asked her if this was in fact a conversational French class. “non non non! Ziss is written French!” Zee only conversational French class is zee real French at last course, and zat one is on Wednesdays!”
Ok, so this meant that not only did the woman at the desk have no clue and sign me up for the wrong class, but I had now missed 3 out of the nine sessions, and I have other appointments on Wednesdays that I scheduled that way to free up my Thursdays, which means missing more days. But this didn’t hit me until later.
I agreed to take the Wednesday French course, and she was still freaking out. Ok, I can half understand her freaking out about the written French course, although I could have worked something out, but she’s still freaking out, This is oral French. That means students use their mouth and ears. Last time I checked, blindness does not affect the mouth and ears. Well, you learn to be more outspoken and you hear things that others may not because you notice them, but that’s it.
I asked her what she thought would be impossible in her oral French course for a blind person. “Well,” she panicked, “Zere are some sings we read, I give to zee class and zay read zem or we talk about zem.” I told her that all she’d have to do is email me the copy of what she’s going to hand out before class starts, I’ll read it before class, and then I’ll just flub along. I’m a pretty good flubber. Being blind, your memory becomes really good.
She is still stammering. “Email zem?” she cried. “You realize ziss is more preparation, and I’m already doing a lot of preparation!”
Oh come on lady. I doubt you’re handing out hand-written pieces of writing. They’re likely typed, and if they’re typed, all you have to do is open a message and attach the document. Even if you’re getting newspaper pieces, a lot of newspapers have their recent stuff available online, so send me the friggin link. Or, give me the subject matter andI’ll use google news. I’m not asking you to re-type whole pieces of material.
The fact is, Froggy Froggerton, I know, that was mean, you’re teaching a class. That means you’re going to have to teach for different learning styles and think outside the box. If you can’t handle that, maybe you shouldn’t be teaching.
Then she said, “Maybe you should take a private class with me. I charge $20 an hour.” Hmm. $95 for 9 weeks, or $20 an hour. What do you think is more affordable? And isn’t the point of taking a class being able to interact in a group? She grudgingly agreed, but kept saying, “If it doesn’t work out, you can always get a refund.” It was like she just wanted me to give up. It would be easier for her.
And this isn’t the first time this has happened when I’ve just tried to take a simple course. Another time, I tried to take Yoga. I had taken Yoga before, so this wasn’t a new concept. I knew some of the terms, and figured if I was doing it wrong, Yoga instructors are very physical and will correct you, blind or not, and think nothing of it. So I signed up. When the instructor saw me, she freaked. “I can’t do this! You must find an assistant! If you need help, you will be impeding everyone else’s Yoga experience! I don’t have time to help you…but if you pay me an extra $10 per session, I might be able to do it.” That was when I snapped and asked where the time comes from if I fork over extra money? I signed up to the gym because Yoga was included. It doesn’t seem fair to make me pay extra even though she still may not have the time. Without saying it, I basically proved she was making excuses. I told her that it would be hard to find an assistant, since recreational volunteers were not in abundance at this time of year, and I’d taken Yoga before, so I wasn’t completely new to this. She eventually came around and became a pretty awesome Yoga instructor. But the struggle at first was insanity!
And then people wonder why I’m not lighting the world on fire with employment prospects. Look at what happens when I try to take a course! Look at the bullshit I have to slog through to take a course in spoken French. There are places where I expect bullshit, but this was not one of them.
Sorry if I sound like a whiny baby. I’m just a little sick of having to blaze a trail even when it comes to simple things. Can’t I just improve myself without sending the teacher into spasms of fear and horror? My eyes don’t work. My mind is perfectly functional, and apparently more open than most.
After all that, I had to cancel the course because I remembered the whole Wednesday appointment thing, so I’m taking it next session, in April. I’m sure the French teacher is rejoicing. She’ll cry when I come back into her life again.
As an aside of extra stupidity that has nothing to do with blinkitude, When I canceled, just for canceling, they decided to refund my money, but deduct a $10 cancelation fee. Stupid bureaucracy. What possibly costs that much to push a button? There aren’t materials to get for this course. Man it’s dumb. It’s especially dumb, since the woman signed me up to the wrong class! It’s her fault I have to cancel in the first place!
I hope this makes sense to someone and doesn’t sound like a pile of raving lunacy. Well, whether or not it does, there it is.