With Valentine’s Day fast approaching...well, o.k., approaching at a rate no faster than any other day...I am, of course, expecting a plentiful bundle of cards and gifts to be arriving shortly. No doubt there will be far too many to just drop through the letter box, so I will have to answer the door to collect my goodies. “So what?” I hear you saying, rather rudely if I may say so. Well, I agree that this mundane task should really not be worth writing about. But the fact is, answering the door to a postman or delivery man is, for me and many like me I suspect, still a difficult social interaction.
After nearly 30 years of living with a visual impairment, you’d think I’d be used to this everyday (or every week) occurrence. But stop! Hey wait a minute mister postman. Not so. The fact is that each of those deliveries is a moment where the package has to transfer across the threshold from the sighted world to the visually-impaired, and that can be a messy business.
Here’s why. The unsuspecting delivery man, no doubt not really expecting anyone to answer the door anyway, quite often doesn’t announce himself. Why should he? After all, he’s dressed in a nice postie-type delivery-man uniform, and is stood at my door holding out a parcel. You’d have to be an idiot, or blind, not to know what was going on. Yes, ok, or both. Thanks. Of course, if he saw me out and about with my guide-dog, or a white cane, he’d know better, but he hasn’t and I’m not. I look pretty normal. Well, unless it’s an early morning delivery, when he might be forgiven for thinking he’s delivering to some kind of horror attraction.
Usually, the nice man realises there’s something up with me and shoves the parcel into my hands. Except more often than not, there’s also the whole signing of the electronic gadget fiasco to go through. “Sorry, mate, I can’t see” I say. “Oh, o.k. mate, just sign in the box”. “Sorry, I can’t see”. “Just under the address sir”. “Sorry, I can’t see”. Etc. Etc.
Eventually the nice man either gets bored and just signs it himself, or he has to guide me to sign in the right place. So then this perfect stranger, whom I’ve only met a few seconds ago, has moved in close and has hold of my hand. “Up a bit, up a bit more, that’s it!” Most undignified, I have to say.