a tiny little revench

The door phone rang. I had just got up and managed to throw some clothes on. It was 9 AM and in just over an hour, I was going to meet my sister and we were going to this beauty clinic for a couple of treatments. I was feeling terrible. For the past three days, I’d been sitting at home writing a take home exam and yesterday; I’d gone out celebrating with the girls because it was over. I hadn’t been drinking anything except one glass of wine. The evening had been perfect. We’d gone to this Thai place which has authentic interior. Bamboo on the walls, plastic tables, chairs and even plastic plates. Your dining experience was enhanced by the sound of tropical birds and the visuals which also made it look like we were eating at a beach resort in Thailand. Once every hour, there was a fake tropical rainstorm. We had ended the evening with cheese and wine at an Italian restaurant my best friend works at. So my headache I confirmed must be a beginning migraine.

“It’s the electrician. I’m coming to do a routine check up of your fuse box.” I knew he was going to come and I was happy he’d come this early since I had to go out anyway. I let him in and quickly tried to make sure I didn’t look as half dead as I felt. I wanted my bed! Then, the doorbell rang. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where my story stops being similar to the classic porn story. Somehow, I’d preferred it to turn out like that rather than how it did turn out. Not that I found the electrician desirable, but wait, and you may agree that some rough morning sex probably would have been the better option.

“Are you tired?” he asked as soon as I opened the dorm I lifted my hand up to my face. Was I really looking that horrible? I didn’t know what to say, so I did the blind equivalent of a blank stare which technically is nothing except probably in my case, was a very confused expression. “Tired?” he repeated and made no move to come in. “Excuse me, who is this,” I said feeling awkward. “Oh, man, you’re blind!” he shouted and took a couple of steps towards the door. “Come in,” I said, wanting this to be over so I could drink my coffee before going. “What a shame,” he said as the door to my apartment closed behind him. “What is a shame?” I said, feeling the headache increasing. He walked through to my kitchen were the fuse box was. “All the things you miss.” “I miss nothing,” I said. I was getting a little angry. Wasn’t it kind of rude of a stranger who had come to do a job to start saying invasive things to his customer? “I’m sure you don’t but, I’d rather lose my hearing,” he said flicking the various switches to make sure they worked. “Strange,” I said contemptuously. “But I guess, each to their own. If you like having communication problems, I guess being deaf would be your cup of tea.” I didn’t add that he wouldn’t have to work on his bad communication skills because he already had them. Why is it that you think of these things afterwards? Of course I don’t think all deaf people are bad communicators, but the “would you be deaf or blind” debate is one I am so sick of, that any deaf reader must have me excused. I’m sure deaf people get it too and that they must be tired of hearing that if they at least could hear and be blind, they’d be able to enjoy music and easier communication. “all my friends would choose blind.” I added. “Because they see how great my life is, just like theirs.” “You must have some special friends then, he said. “Well,” I snapped. I don’t know if you have a girlfriend, but imagine you don’t. Imagine that you’ll meet her next week and that she’ll change your life to the better. You don’t know it’s going to happen, you haven’t met her, and so you don’t miss her now. Imagine also that tomorrow; you’ll see the film that will become your favourite film. You are not sad about missing that film today, because you haven’t seen it yet.” He had moved to my bathroom now and had only two rooms left. “I get your point, but it’s not the same. Oh, and by the way, are you from up north?” “Huh?” That really shocked me. I am a born and bread Oslo girl and my family roots are from the west of Norway. Northern Norwegians are known to be quite big mouthed and snappy, but so are the people from the west, although northerners swear a lot more as a natural part of their language, something I don’t really do. “Your dialect is really northern.” This is when I should have said that if he wanted to be deaf, he really didn’t have far to go, but again, I thought of that later. “I’m getting everything wrong today, aren’t I?” he laughed and but his shoes back on to leave. “Well I’m done and it’s all looking good. I’ll give you a pamflet about electric safety. Could you get someone to read that for you?” He went through the main, pretty obvious points with me anyway. “Who knows, I said relieved that he’d be out soon.

The rest of that day, I lay flat out with a migraine, but not before I’d had a great morning with my sister and godmother, who happened to travel through Oslo just then and wanted to meet us for coffee. Great accept the headache of course. And we laughed at the rude electrician.

So what do you say? Wouldn’t a passionate encounter have been far more exciting? Today, I did something that made me feel a little rebellious, in a sweet way. I was going out to make a radio report on a marching band and I needed to Braille down my questions. The pamphlet paper made for perfect Braille paper, so I tore out a page since I didn’t have anything else. “Take that”, I thought whilst hammering down the keys of my last century brailler. And I thought that sometimes revench tastes sweet, sometimes bitter and sometimes it felt like Braille dots on a pamphlet given to me by a rude electrician who’d rather be deaf.

9 thoughts on “a tiny little revench

  1. We all like to think that if we explain ourselves to other people that they will be understanding and empathetic but unfortunately despite our best efforts, some people are idiots like this electrician.
    I’ve had several conversations with my friend who works at the New York City Lighthouse for the Blind and has the same eye condition as I do. We’ve talked about wanting to educate people about vision loss and blindness and how often we find that no matter how polite we are, they don’t hear us. It’s interesting to me as someone who used to be fully sighted the extent to which some people just don’t care about how their actions affect other people with vision loss.
    How would I deal with this idiot? After his initial rude comment, I would think to myself, what an idiot, and basically stop talking to him. Make a phone call or put in my headphones. Let him do his work and just leave my apartment. Sometimes it’s not worth the effort.


    1. In an ideal world, I would deal with him in the same way. I am just too hot headed and need to learn the art of shutting up when faced with idiots! 🙂

  2. Linn,

    Being assertive and telling people about vision loss is really good. I try to educate people all the time about vision loss. Most people say nothing and that neither helps the person feel more comfortable nor educates the sighted people about vision loss. You really tried in this case, but the electrician wasn’t receptive and in fact was quite rude. You did your best, but he couldn’t open his mind. But you planted the seed and hopefully the next time he meets another blind person, he’ll know and act better. Good job!


  3. Dear Lynn!

    I just discovered your blog and I love it. I’m sighted, but for many years I had a bad case of shortsightedness until I got a laser operation, so I kind of know what it feels like not to see: many times I broke my glasses and everything was really hard for me till I got new ones.

    People don’t understand what it is like not to see. Once I went to the eye doctor with a friend (broken glasses) and I asked the doctor if he could help my friend to see like I did, using those weird glasses the doctors have to measure your sight. And my friend just stood there saying “I can’t move!”. Some days after that she told me only after getting home had she been able to put words to what she had felt and understanding what it was like not to see.

    It’s not that the electrician was being rude: he just didn’t know better. Now I am able to see without glasses, but that doesn’t mean I know how to speak to someone who can’t see or hear or walk or whatever.

    We, “normal” people just can’t imagine what it is like not to be able to do something, whatever it is. We can be polite, of course, but you never know what is going to make the other tick. Everyone puts their foot in their mouth: we offend people who have adopted children when we ask the about the “real mother”, we offend people who have a job we just said when we say XXXXX are all YYYYY, we offend people who like dogs by saying dogs are disgusting… and the list is never ending. But it’s all just ignorance. And I doubt you will be able to educate everyone… or just one.

    I really think life is much easier when you just answer something like “Please, don’t keep on showing me how ignorant you are” and then go on to something more pleasant. They will (hopefully) get the hint and MAYBE learn something or continue being as ignorant as they are. But there’s nothing you can do about it. Even if you educate them about blindness, they will then go on to offend someone else. Human beings are just like that.

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