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A few rants over idiots in Berlin [Oct. 1st, 2008|06:22 pm]


Background: Unter den Linden and Friedricstraße are two well-known streets in Berlin- even to tourists. Unter den Linden has the Reichstag, the Opera House, the Brandenburger Tor and other famous buildings. Friedrichstraße is a high-end shopping district.

Today the weather is horrible. Gushing rain, very windy, cold. Friedrichstraße down to Unter den Linden is hard to navigate on the best of days, due to the high number of both pedestrians and cars. There's also construction on the corner, two of the cross-lights are out, and the low degree of visibility was not helping me any.

I'm sorry, lady, that I ran into your kid with the umbrella. That is- I missed the kid, but caught the umbrella, which somehow ended up knocking your kid down. I've got six siblings myself, I know that little kids do weird things like grabbing onto my cane, or staring or asking loudly "what's wrong with her". It honestly doesn't bother me that much. And I really didn't mean to knock down your kid.

But I couldn't help it.

It's crowded. Construction is loud. People are talking. My audio processing disorder is acting up. Low visibility from the rain and the wind, which makes my vision of 20/1000 even worse. And your kid is short enough that he's right out of my field of vision. It's slippery, which means controlling the cane isn't the easiest thing in the world. And I tried to stop.

Please don't bitch at me. I apologized. It's not like I set out to push your kid down. There wasn't anything I could do. Your kid is fine, albeit a bit wet. And by yelling at me, you look like the idiot. See the white cane? Yeah. It means I can't see. It's rather silly to give a three year-old their own umbrella anyways, because they're undoubtedly going to poke someone with it, especially when it's an over-sized umbrella for adults and it's nearly as tall as the kid is. But when you see me coming down the street, maybe move your kid out of the way? And don't bitch me for something I tried to stop- and couldn't.

Tourists: you're here to look at Berlin, not the blind girl. Really, stop staring. This is a famous part of Berlin; there are many more interesting things to look at than watching me walk down the side walk. And if you just have to stare, then please don't stop right in my way. I will plow into you. Half the time it's an accident, but I fully admit that I purposefully plowed into that group of high school students. When you look behind you, see me coming and stop right in front of me, you deserve to get whacked. Enjoy the scenery, and leave me alone.</a>

Another rant that has been taking place quite frequently, and I honestly don't get it: I walk very fast. My sighted friends are constantly telling me to slow down, and my O&M instructor has pretty much given up on regulating my pace and just tells me that she's waiting for me to walk into a wall or spear myself on the cane, because I don't stop in time. And you know, from them- I don't mind getting told to slow down. I get that it's safer to go slower, and it's annoying to keep up with me when we're walking together.

But what right does it give strangers to yell at me to slow down, when I'm walking down the street?

The best is when it's dark and out of nowhere this voice comes "slow down!" Scares the hell out of me. And to the guy who grabbed my arm, I am so sorry that I didn't lash out with the cane and beat him. Especially since I was in a place I don't know very well and I'm night blind, so I was relying on searching for landmarks and trying to find my way, which required a lot of concentration on my part. It took me a long time to be able to reorient myself and continue on my way.

The trains and subways in Berlin have these things called "Rillenplatten", which are ceramic tiles with raised lines set about a foot from the edge of the platform and also leading to things like stairs, elevators and entrances. They are officially called the "Blindengleitsystem" which is the "blind guiding system". In other words, they're made to signal cane users that there's something coming up.

So why do so many people get off the train/subway and just stand there on top of them? They're always lighter than the floor, and if I can see them with my crappy vision, then you should be able to see them too. And even if you don't know what they're there for- when you see me coming with my cane, making sure that I'm hitting it, don't just stand there. Those plates are made for me, you know, the girl with the cane. Get the hell out of my way. There has to be some reason I'm following them, after all.

*sigh* I generally try to move out of the way myself and don't actively try to hit people. But man, I get so fed up sometimes, the way people just stand and stare- and don't move, when they see you coming. Especially since I don't have depth perception, so while I can see a blob somewhere in front of me, I can't tell how far away it is (or what it is), so I just kind of continue on and hope for the best.

On the plus side, thanks to the two very nice men and the woman who helped me cross the streets today. I really needed it, with the crazy conditions. Like cars just sitting in the middle of cross-walks (but that's an entirely different rant). Thank you, especially for asking if I needed the help. You made my day better after the annoyances.

From: capriuni
2008-10-01 08:22 pm (UTC)
"And to the guy who grabbed my arm, I am so sorry that I didn't lash out with the cane and beat him."

So am I. I have cerebral palsy, and sometimes, when walking on crutches (Which I used to do more often than I do now), people would sometimes come up behind me and grab my arm, thinking that they're supporting me. But, when I walk on crutches, I'm holding up most of my weight with my arms, so grabbing me there is likely to pull me off my balance. Also, it's just plain rude to reach out and grab a stranger without permission, especially if it's a man grabbing a woman in the dark -- I mean, really.

But we all have disabilities of one type or another. I think the most frequent disability these days is Chronic Common Sense Deficiency Syndrome.
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[User Picture]From: ezzie_j
2008-10-01 10:49 pm (UTC)

audio processing disorder sucks

Damn that sounds like onefustrating day. I have auditory processing disorder myself, I hate it when trying to cross roads or like when you mentioned busy / noisy places.
I bit the bullet and bought an Fm radio mike system for social and professional settings, though wis it could help me out and about like that!
O and M teachers should be able to work with you, not against you, so its good that he or she has given up. Just keep your cane technique up to scratch so they can't complain too much :. Take care
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[User Picture]From: in_excelsis_dea
2008-10-02 10:11 am (UTC)

Re: audio processing disorder sucks

My O&M teacher is wonderful. It took her a few lessons before she finally said "go the pace you're comfortable with and just keep in mind that you're not really giving yourself time to react". And it's true. Now she just kind of laughs and tells me that "my" normal isn't really normal at all, when I bring up something that happened when I was walking- like when I bent a cane nearly in half last week *coughs*.

And yeah. The APD sucks. I don't mind asking people to clarify what they're saying, but not being able to hear where the cars are coming from, or if there's more than one is...not amusing, when I'm out alone. Also sucks that my own mother is convinced that it's just a "not paying attention" problem, not an actual disorder. Cool to find someone else with it. That stereo sounds like a handy thing.
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[User Picture]From: in_excelsis_dea
2008-10-02 10:14 am (UTC)
Chronic Common Sense deficiency Syndrome. *laughs* I like that. And how true it is...

For some reason, I don't think the general public believes that disabled people care if you're being rude or not. I mean, yeah- grabbing anyone else would be considered assault, but if you're disabled, it just means they want to help! Idiots.
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[User Picture]From: ashiva
2008-10-02 12:56 am (UTC)
And here I have been dreaming of day (I have waited almost a half year for a cane and O&M to start thanks to "marvelous" Finnish public health care) I get finally a cane and can start walking quickly again without fear of bumping to people. False hopes. :-(
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[User Picture]From: in_excelsis_dea
2008-10-02 10:00 am (UTC)

Don't get me wrong- I feel a lot safer walking fast with the cane. (Though it hurts like hell when you stab yourself.) But unless you're willing to just run into people *cough* then yeah, you're still going to have to watch out a bit. It does make going quickly through crowded places easier, though.

And yeah, lovely system here too. Also had to wait about five months to get a cane after I requested one- and now they're telling me that it was luck I got one in the first place, because my vision was "too good" for one at first. Good luck getting a cane!
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[User Picture]From: ashiva
2008-10-02 05:44 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm meeting my O&M instructor on next Monday for the first time, so things are actually finally starting to happen (or at least I hope so...), and I have got way too many concussions that I could be denied of cane, I think. If still, against mine and my doctor's wishes such a denial would happen, the person who did that decision might have to this time go into hospital instead of me....
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[User Picture]From: ezzie_j
2008-10-02 06:09 pm (UTC)


dickheads. medical profesionals ... don't get me started ...
As for the fm system, you wear headphones, and stick the microphone on the table.
great for wen you're in a pub full of drunkards! lol am starting to want to e it on mobility for instruction delivery.
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[User Picture]From: in_excelsis_dea
2008-10-05 05:31 pm (UTC)
Know what you mean... While 20/200 is legally blind here, they say you need 20/400 to qualify for a cane, or 5 degrees or less peripheral vision. Luckily mine was 5-7 degress, so my doctor just sent in the paperwork for me anyways. But I learned months later from the agency that it was pure luck that they let me get one- and now in 2009 they're planning on "tightening up" the rules. Good thing that my vision has sunk to about 20/400 now...

I hope that it goes well! A good O&M instructor is really an asset- mine's been very helpful in answering all sorts of questions and has really gone to bat for me. I'm sure it'll be a great help for you.
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