Today I was walking down the street with my best friend, my mobility cane. Suddenly a male voice shouted out ‘faking it’. I looked around. I could only see one man sitting on a park bench. And I was the only one walking in the vicinity of this out-of-control clap trap.
Has anyone else ever had a similar experience?
Well, it seems they have. After posting my experience and question on my Facebook RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) Family Support Group Page I was inundated with responses. These are just a few of them.
I mean, I would have hit him with the cane… then when he said “OUCH” I would have replied with “Faking it” & walked away. People can be so rude. Annabelle
Yes I been told the same by outsiders and sadly from family who just don’t get it. Becky
I was told I was making it up for attention. I kicked that person out of my life after that comment. I’m truly sorry you had that happen to you. Paula
I banged into a woman with my cart at tjmaxx and she screamed at me. I apologized and told her I couldn’t see and she said I was faking. Lisa
I’ve never experienced people saying “faking it” to me, but I have had weird and confused looks before. If someone said that to me, I would reply with “you’re faking being intelligent.” I would treat people accordingly. Laura
Yep have had that before I dropped my pen at post office. So I bent down did a sweep with hand. And found a glasses cloth at the same time asked the person beside me did they drop it. And they said no. So I just put it up on bench. So I was filling out my letter to post. And the person goes up to the counter and yells out ‘ that lady is faking it she seen a glasses cloth in the floor’. Loud enough so the whole post office could hear. Cindy
So sorry you had to experience such ignorance. I’d be tempted to approach him and say excuse me I didn’t hear you while giving him a good whack on the ankle haha. Lorelei
Yes I’ve had the same problem as you where I’ve been told that I should stop faking it and to just be normal like everyone else. Neil
Beat him with the cane. Charles
Disgusting human being. I’d probably hit him in the face with my cane. Tasha
Can’t fix stupid! Teresa
People think being blind is black and white- either you’re fully blind or fully sighted. People with low vision get hassled all the time others’ ignorance. Ramona
I was told by a friend that i was lying about my disease in my face. now he’s not my friend anymore Sousou
That’s how a cane accidentally hits a face. Austin
Reply to Austin. Or a quick way for the jerk to get a nice extended middle finger before you deliberately trip them. Joanne
And then there was this one
Just yesterday I saw a Facebook meme that implied that if a person is using a white cane and can see, they are faking it. I explained to the person who posted it that blindness is not all or nothing and why people with some usable vision benefit from using a white cane. I also had a few other things to say about how such memes perpetuate the myth that people with disabilities are “faking it.” He actually apologized, admitting his own ignorance. Good to know some people are teachable. Suzanne
Suzanne’s response reminded me of an incident that happened to a fellow RPer. This is his story that he recalled in our weekly RP support tele link group.
Is that guy pretending to be blind?
Frank was getting out of his taxi when he was approached by a group of about five youths. He heard one of them say ‘Is that guy pretending to be blind?’ That started a barrage of taunts such as ‘faking it’ and ‘you’re not blind’. As the youths were laughing and taunting him, Frank continued walking through the carpark at a steady pace with his cane. He felt intimidated and scared. He thought that he was going to be attacked from behind as he could feel the group of youths following him. He finally made it to the safety of his office – alone.
In his office he mulled over the incident for a few minutes before deciding to go back to the carpark and approach those thugs. I don’t think I could have done that but that’s what Frank did. However, if we’re placed in the same situation, we might all react the same way as Frank did that day.
Explaining the grey area
The group was still loitering when Frank stepped up to them. They seemed surprised. Amazingly, Frank’s presence silenced them. He asked them if they would like to know a bit about his blindness. They responded with another unexpected reaction by asking him questions.
‘How much can you see?’ ‘Why do you use the cane?’ ‘Does it make you feel stupid?’ We all know who the stupid ones are here, but these lads seemed genuinely interested. Frank gave all the answers they wanted and a really nice rapport began to develop. Maybe it was their way of apologising. We’d like to think that anyway and hope that they never behave like that again.
Thanks Mr Faking It
It seems that often people become aggressive and mouthy if they don’t know what’s going on. Unfortunately, people with disabilities are often on the receiving end of their hostility. I’m not condoning that type of behaviour because nothing makes it OK. But maybe it’s up to all of us to call this behaviour out. I’m not sure about doing what Frank did because it could have ended very badly. Thankfully it didn’t.
I’ll finish here by thanking Mr Faking It
- for exercising his right to freedom of speech even though he shouted
- for inspiring this blog post
- for initiating lots of conversation and support from those who know best
- and for renewing my enthusiasm in pursuing my goal of creating awareness about low vision diseases.
Well done MFI!