Retinitis Pigmentosa didn’t erase my vision all at once. By 55, I completed O&M training and began my new life as a low vision person now requiring assistance. I did not grow up with a cane in my hand; nor was I clothed in bright attire with “BLIND” emblazoned on all four sides. After receiving my sample products and launching Awarewolf Gear, I donned the Camo Orange Sweatshirt and walked the dog. Then walked downtown where I observed. Here’s what it was like.
At first I was very self-conscious. I mean, I felt exposed. It’s now out there for all to see. But the exposed feeling was different than my high school stage performance of “Don Juan;” there was no fear. Rather, the feeling was one of walking through a crowd with my Wingman. I wasn’t alone, and somehow the sweatshirt advocated for me. Confident? Was I feeling confident? I think because nobody stared, laughed, pointed or even cared, I felt, again, accepted by Society. And yes, some folks looked, and proactively stepped aside to avoid collisions. Did I feel weird? You know, I really didn’t. After a while. Remember that this is my first “Reveal” as well… we truly are all in this together. I felt that it really is my job to blaze the trail, so to speak- to venture forth, and report the experience.
As my arms swung, I noticed that I really like the long sleeves; the orange camo is attractive, but not too bright. The shirt doesn’t scream the way a neon or fluorescent color would. It does, however, attract oncoming eyes. And get recognized.
Of note during my walk, which I want to pass along to you all:
1) Waiting at a 4-way, 4-lane crosswalk, the turning surge car passed, and the second car stopped within the intersection box, and let me pass. The car effectively blocked 4 other cars from entering the intersection;
2) The cashier at Walgreens counted the change back for me, clearly, slowly and deliberately. Almost as if she knew I was blind.
My takeaways from this initial experience are that people recognized my lack of vision, and treated me accordingly. Granted, cashiers always have the ability to count back change… when was the last time she, or any other cashier, did this as she did?