Sometimes being visually impaired and using a cane has some perks. It is, occasionally, like having your own cloak of invisibility. I can slip past the Red Cross volunteers that always seem to be stationed on every corner and every MARTA entrance in Decatur. They never ask for my money or my blood, and that is the way I like it. Some of my friends and co-workers aren’t so lucky, occasionally they slip under the radar with me. If they don’t slip under the radar I have to leave them. I can’t risk having my cover blown. The invisibility also comes in handy for people on the street handing out flyers for things I’ll never want to buy and places I’ll never want to go. “WE BY JUNK CARS!” one flyer might say, since I don’t have a stack of junked cars I can safely say I’m not missing out. “GIVE US YOUR GOLD!” another ad proclaims (I’m pretty sure muggings begin like that). If I had a pile of gold laying around I would probably be dressed better than I am. I don’t want these things, nor do I want to go to the strip clubs, taxidermists or museum of dripping water. I feel perfectly happy to not have to deal with the people handing out these things or having to tote around their crap (I just can’t turn down a flyer that’s offered).
There are some exceptions to the invisibility cloak. Panhandlers always seem to see me and seem to gravitate towards me. My pimped out cane apparently screams that I’m loaded with cash and change. Street preachers who are not quietly handing out pamphlets will call me out and use me as an example (sometimes it’s that god allows people with disabilities to walk around freely, other times it’s to prove that they are healers). I’m often caught off guard by those that notice me. I walk around in my own little world (occasionally with my own personal soundtrack) and when someone calls out to me I immediately presume they are yelling for someone else. It’s not until I’m jostled by a fellow pedestrian or notice the stares of other people on me that I realize I’ve been outed. Now everyone sees me and I have to act foolish. “I can’t have you heal me today I’m in a hurry, maybe tomorrow!” I now have to put distance between myself and the street preacher. He’s blown my cover and now I’m a sitting duck.
Another unfortunate time that invisibility fails me is when I see someone and I either don’t remember their name or don’t want to talk to them. Then I shine like the morning sun. I have found a way around the first situation, if there is enough distance and they call out: “Danny! How’s it going?” I can always tilt my head to the side, squint a little bit and call out: “Hey! Who is that? You’re too far away!” this generally works unless the person is persistent on me saying their name or are too close. Sadly, there is no way around avoiding the person I don’t like; I just have to suck it up.
Do you have any similar experiences?