Friday, December 2, 2011

Blind Guys Driving

When some people become crippled, either suddenly or gradually, for a long time they work hard to convince themselves they’re not really crippled. It’s hard to blame them for wanting no part of being crippled. They know all the terrible, hurtful names people call us. Doctors call us the worst names of all, names like “osteogenesis imperfecta.” Imperfecta? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Is everybody else osteogenesis perfecta?

Cripples who are in this state of denial will do painful physical and emotional contortions to perform a simple activity, just to prove to themselves and to the world that they can still do it. And it’s usually a tedious activity that they hated doing before they were crippled, like mopping the kitchen floor. They should just hire a Polish cleaning lady and move on, but instead they’ll spend six hours mopping the kitchen floor, even if they have to rig up the mop to a custom-made helmet so they can push it with their head. When the task is complete, their satisfaction is as deep as their exhaustion. If they were really that crippled, they couldn’t mop the floor independently like that anymore, could they?

The activity cripples have the hardest time giving up is driving. I’m not one of those cripples. I never drove in the first place. I don’t worry about it because I happened to be married to my ideal woman, who’s beautiful and intelligent and witty and wise and has a driver’s license. But my friend Scott had a helluva time giving up driving. He’s dead now. He had juvenile diabetes. (There’s another one of those names--- juvenile diabetes. If your condition improves, do they upgrade you to sophomoric diabetes?) Scott started going blind right around the time he became old enough to drive. But he loved the hell out of driving and it got to the point where Scott would sit in his car along the roadside, wait for a bright-colored car to come by and follow it.

Well obviously Scott had to give that up. But a few years later on Scott’s birthday he told a friend who owned a pickup truck that for his birthday gift he wanted to drive his friend’s truck. Scott was totally blind by then so he had his friend drive out to this open field. There Scott could drive around and around with no danger of hitting anything. Out in the field, Scott and his friend switched seats. But Scott drove the truck into mud and it got stuck. So Scott’s friend got out and pushed while Scott floored the gas pedal. Just then a cop happened along and saw a guy out in the field pushing the back of a truck, its spinning tires spewing waves of mud. As the cop approached the truck, Scott’s friend jumped back. The tires kept angrily churning up mud. The cop knocked on the driver’s window. Thinking it was his friend knocking, Scott rolled down the window and snarled, “Get back there and push, ass hole!”

Sooner or later, trying to pretend you’re not crippled will get you in trouble. It’s better to just sign up with the imperfectas and get it over with.


  1. That was def. worth a monetary donation into the hat. So did. Love that Paypal button you have there. Enjoyed the giggle-snort. And another reminder to wear the damn helmet when I go riding (horses).

  2. "Cripples who are in this state of denial will do painful physical and emotional contortions to perform a simple activity, just to prove to themselves and to the world that they can still do it. And it’s usually a tedious activity that they hated doing before they were crippled, like mopping the kitchen floor."
    Yes! And yet critical others will say we're not trying hard enough or are "giving in to it."

  3. I think the world would be a much better place if very few people drove. I wasn't sure I should learn to drive because of my autism and then when I was diagnosed with diabetes as a teenager, I decided I'd better not (even though I am not blind). It's easier to not drive in the first place than to acknowledge you can't do it anymore.

  4. Ever since they put up handicapped parking spots, I thought I would see a man drive up in a big SUV and get out with his white cane tapping his way into a store.

  5. Virginia Tech is actually working on tech to allow the blind to drive. I'm biased. I work there. On the project, in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind. Here's a blog I have:, and pop over to Search "Blind Driver Challenge" or "Dennis Hong" for more. Way cool stuff. I have seen blind men drive, on roads and at Daytona International Speedway in Florida. Cheers!

  6. Absent success at Virginia Tech, if you're blind, you don't need to be driving. Be reasonable.

  7. That's a funny story, giggled a bunch. I hope the cop got at least a little bit of mud on him. It reminded me of my father who drove way too long with his macular degeneration. Its nice to know I might be a "perfecta" at something, thanks. I don't consider myself crippled, but I do have massive burns on my hands and one side of my face from an accident when I was only nine months. I spent some time in the Shriners hospital in Galveston in my early teens getting some relief, but for the most part I have led a normal life being ostrasized a little bit for my scars.

    1. Just gotta reply to this one. I've heard about the Blind Driver Challenge, even watched a video about it featuring NFB President Dr. Marc Maurer who, btw, has held that position since the mid-80's. Anyhow, here's my take on the whole thing. I think that real-world driving should be left to those who can see what and/or who is on the highways and byways ahead of them. I myself am blind, having been born that way. I've driven bumper cars before, with assistance from a sighted navigator. I haven't done this for several years, but those bumper cars were always a hoot. What's more, nobody got hurt or killed in the process. Perhaps egos got hurt albeit temporarily, but that's a different story I think. However, one just never knows how safe our nation's roads are, especially with all the road rage that seems to be occurring these days. I'm an avid fan and user of assistive technology, but I have also had firsthand experience with technology making mistakes. Anybody and everybody please feel free to take issue with what I've said.