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The Dumbest Questions I’ve Ever Been Asked As a Blind Person

Almost every question I’ve ever been asked as a blind person has been prompted by a genuine, and quite understandable, lack of knowledge. Below are some notable exceptions. Whoever said that there are no dumb questions never met the people who asked these. All of these really happened. I couldn’t make up this stuff.

“Do you know how to fasten your seat belt?”

Is there anyone who has ridden in a car in North America in the last forty years who would answer “no” to this?

“Can you walk?”

This is a favorite of some airlines personnel who assist passengers going from one gate to another. For some reason, this seems to be a special favorite of the folks in Atlanta. I’ve sometimes answered, “Yes, the bottom half of me works fine; it’s the top that’s the problem.”

“The prescription warnings are in Braille, aren’t they?”

The nurse who asked this was referring to that little piece of paper inside the box of medication with microscopic printing. If they were in Braille, the warning would go on for pages and pages. Webster’s College Dictionary, for example, takes over thirty-five thick volumes when printed in Braille.

“What would he like to eat?”

If I were a better person, I wouldn’t answer the waitress, “He would like . . .,” but I’m not so I do.

“You’re not really blind, are you?”

No, I’m just pretending.

“Can you sign your name?”

This was asked by a hospital clerk in between the smacking of her gum. This is the one occasion when I broke my self-imposed ban on giving hostile or smart-alleky answers to questions like this and said, “Yes, they cover that when you get your PhD.”

I’m even embarrassed to confess that I enjoyed it although I seriously doubt whether she knew what a PhD was.

“Do you use that dog to hunt? I’ll bet he’s a really good huntin’ dog.”

This was asked by one of the locals in a small South Georgia mill town where we had stopped to have lunch at the Dairy Queen.

“Don’t you know what day it is? Why are you making that poor dog work on the Fourth of July?”

This was asked by a woman who followed me for an entire block in New Jersey, lecturing me all the way on the evils of making a dog work on a national holiday.

“Can you undress yourself or do you need the nurse to help?”

This was asked by a M.D. on my first visit to his office. I’m not sure if he had consulted with the nurse before making this offer.

Although the flight attendant directed the following question to my seat-mate and not me, I think it deserves an honorable (or maybe a dishonorable) mention:

“Would you mind sitting in the emergency row? This gentleman sitting next to you is incompetent.”

And, no, the nervous flight attendant never realized what he had said. I’ve certainly done a lot of incompetent things in my life but never realized, until then, that incompetency was written all over me.

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