One thing that people find very hard to understand is the fine line between making jokes about someone’s disability and upsetting them. Actually, I find it very hard to understand it myself: something that on one occasion I might find hilarious, on another occasion I might find quite hurtful. It’s the same with those odd situations that arise: sometimes they can be funny to me and sometimes they can be embarrassing or upsetting.
Last night I was at a ball, in a fairly dark room. Having nipped to the loo, I came back to the reception area where we had all been standing, to find everyone had gone through to the large dining room, and I realised I had absolutely no idea where my friends were sitting. I would have felt desperately embarraased to walk round the whole room in search of them. Luckily I spotted someone I knew and asked for help. He scanned the room for me, and pointed me in the direction of where I should go, explaining carefully exactly where they were. Relieved, I walked over and nervously looked around me in case I hadn’t got it quite right. Luckily, I found my friends and they waved as I got close. Embarrassing moment number 1 averted! I would never have found this kind of situation in the slightest bit funny. Other people might well have done though, had I been walking around trying to find my friends.
Later in the evening came the raffle. I hadn’t really been paying attention but suddently realised that the second number called was one of mine. My heart actually sank as I got up, as I knew I had to find my way to where the prizes were being given out. I thought it was right at the far end (I’m still not sure whether that’s where the earlier speeches had been given, or whether I’d been looking in the wrong direction when they had!). As I started walking across the room, with everyone watching me, I realised I had no idea where to go. I couldn’t see anyone looking as if they had prizes to give out and a microphone. I started walking towards the middle of hte room very slowly, feeling more and more embarrassed as I got closer, knowing I’d have to make a decision which direction to go very soon. I looked around me but everyone was sat down. I suppose I could have asked someone to point me in the right direction but I felt too embarrassed. I hazarded a guess and headed to where I could see a long table and someone standing up. Thank goodness, I was right! Next problem was in choosing my prize – I could see a table with various prizes laid out, but couldn’t identify what they were. I asked the person running the raffle what they were, and she rattled off a few items, but that didn’t really help. For example, I could see Tshirts, but not really what they were. I saw a bag that I quite liked the look of, but had no idea if there was anything better or that I would have preferred. I picked up the bag and was about to go and sit down, when I was reminded that I had to draw the next ticket. I pulled it out of the box and managed to read the number. I confidently announced “Number 50” down the microphone. There was a pause, and someone asked “What colour ticket?” Without batting an eyelid, I replied “I’ve absolutely no idea”. (I don’t have a very good sense of colour distinction, especially in the dark). If I had been pushed, I would have said “green”. Luckily I didn’t, because it was actually blue…. The organiser, a good friend of mine, was immediately contrite, and rather embarrassed because she’d temporarily forgotten I wouldn’t be able to tell the ticket colour. She helped me out by announcing it, and was very apologetic. Oddly, I didn’t find that embarrassing at all, I just thought it was rather funny.
So out of 3 events that evening related to my lack of sight, one I found an easy solution to (ask someone for help), one I felt too embarrassed to ask for help about, and felt very stupid, and one I just found terribly funny. If only I could always see the humour.