This column, written by our friend Shermeen Khan (look at me name dropping) for the Waterloo Record gets into a lot of the things that Carin and I have been saying throughout the pandemic.
Like us, she and her husband are blind, which in itself adds an extra layer of complexity to dealing with this new abnormal normal that has become our everyday lives. Unlike us, however, they also have a small child, which adds complexity to complexity and shines an even brighter light on some of the things we took mostly for granted that our now all but impossible thanks to these times.
Being blind in the pandemic
But along with everyone else, I began to tire of needing Zoom for everything, of the complete absence of spontaneity or serendipity — how many of your best ideas were generated through random conversations you didn’t even intend to have? And as the world gradually opened up, I discovered we were not all moving forward together.
As we moved through the phases (which oddly seemed to be characterized by what restaurants were allowed to do), my social media was flooded with multiple assurances that businesses had everyone’s safety in mind, and were setting up to promote physical distancing and curbside pick-up. I read countless posts heralding businesses for setting up arrows and floor signage to control the flow of traffic, and my heart sank. This was going to be a disaster that would impact my independence in ways that were not only crushing in their impact, but also in ways that seem, on their face at least, to have the green light of societal justification: safety.
Also like us, she spends a good number of words on how helpful so many people have been. We appreciate all the offers of help we’ve gotten, even if we don’t take them. If we don’t take your help, rest assured that it’s nothing personal. If we can do something on our own, we’re going to do it. Part of that is simply being adults that can fend for ourselves, but yes, sometimes there is an aspect of that “perpetual indebtedness” that blind people often tend to feel. No, it’s nothing that any of you are doing. You all have the best of intentions. But put yourself in our shoes. What does it feel like when somebody does an amazing thing for you and you feel like you’ll never be able to repay him? It’s not always the most enjoyable feeling. Now imagine feeling that way all the time just because somebody did something like help you get napkins. That’s an unavoidable part of blind existence, but one that many of us will do our best to avoid as often as we can.