THINGS PEOPLE BRING TO THE DOG BEACH FOR $500, ALEX

I am an Arpee. I am legally blind, with 7 degrees of central vision remaining. The time had arrived that I receive Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training. My mobility canes, affectionately named Thing One and Thing Two, gradually became my safe method of walking unfamiliar locations.

Blindness is my “thing.” I am blind. Thing 2 is my safe. As such, I confess that I feel every eye on me in public. (It’s all about ME, right?) My insecure inner child hates this, as I do not like to draw attention to myself. I feel very insecure when I have Thing 2 deployed in “odd” places. The Dog Beach in San Diego is a classic example. The cane gets me to my beach chair; then I sit. Still, I feel the eyes on me: judging, and whatever else goes through the minds of the Sighted Hordes. Again, it’s all about ME, right?

Sitting in my beach chair, I watched as a young woman hobbled her way to the water’s edge with her Rhodesian Ridgeback, her right leg in a cast, to her knee. Probably a college co-ed, recovering from a lacrosse game gone awry, I thought. I moved on to an older couple. He had a walking cane. She had a hearing aid tucked discretely behind her ear. Reading glasses were on half the people who were not focused on their dogs. Far off, a gentleman was signing to a friend in waist-deep Pacific.

Does anybody care? Very simply, no. People generally do not care whether somebody needs eyeglasses. Or hearing aids (except my mom,) or crutches or a walker or ASL. Seriously, Dave, what makes me think everyone cares that I need an aid to ambulate safely? I’ll say it again… it’s all about me. My perception. My insecurity, my inability to fully accept and come to grips with needing a cane. And guess what? Nobody cares! What a relief!