Vicky: Trying to provide the right support at the right time – there’s a fine line (sometimes a blurred one) I think between not fussing but offering support when its required. Or is it always better to wait to be asked to do something? Assuming help and getting it wrong – like moving a pint because you assume its in someone’s way only for them to knock it over because they didn’t know (and couldn’t see) where it had moved to – is frustrating (and top tip – if you’re going to move something, ensure you tell the person where you’ve moved it to!) but then to always have to ask for support must be annoying too?
There’s an interesting quote in a novel we read by Red Szell (who himself has RP) called Blind Faith in which, the lead character (who is vision Impaired) is in a coffee house with a friend. “Miranda and I sat in our dark corner where even with a tall candle we played a chess-like game in which she moved sugar, spoons and croissant around the table to provide my fingers with the next thing they were seeking. I found a certain comfort in putting myself into her hands like this.” I guess everyone’s different but constantly moving stuff would be a no-no as far as I’m concerned and quite assumptive. But I think having an awareness and anticipating is a skill in itself and often depends on how well you know someone. Sometimes I don’t ask if the support required is obvious, but I would explain what I’m doing – well most of the time…
And so to the stirring incident – we were at Ruchita’s – a local curry house, and I offered to pour the milk into Dave’s black coffee which he accepted. However, having done that I then stirred the coffee. Although he was deep in conversation with our other colleague, Dave obviously heard this and quietly said ‘I can stir it’ to which I said ‘yes, I know, but I’m stirring it to see if it needed more milk’. So, even though we know each other well (well enough for me to know the correct colour the coffee should be to meet with approval 😊) Dave obviously felt I had overstepped the mark on this one. I guess I could have asked him to stir it, or taste it to see if it needed more milk but as I said, he was chatting and, as far as I was concerned, the stirring was all part of assessing if more milk was required. It seemed petty to break in to the middle of the conversation to ask him to stir it or taste it or to ask if he was happy for me to stir it to see if it needed more milk – but maybe I should have done.
Interestingly enough, several weeks later Dave was at the same place (he does go there a lot) with an ex colleague and exactly the same thing happened – which made me feel better anyway!!
I think just being aware and asking what is helpful is the best way to go especially if you don’t know someone well. And once you know them better – continue to communicate!! I’m really glad that we continue to have a working relationship where Dave will comment…sometimes it makes me feel bad if I’ve got it wrong but more often it enables me to explain my reasons and hopefully stops there being any bad feeling. Also, it would be easy having worked together for so long to let things drift, whereas this way we can both double check our reactions and reasons.
Dave: Well, I didn’t realise that I was such a precious person when it comes to stirring my coffee… J I appreciate that supporting someone and knowing when to provide the support or when to wait must sometimes be difficult. Ultimately this does come back to getting to know the person and building a mutual understanding. I know that I can be stubborn and would generally try and do a task myself but I think this is because I’m trying to hold on to my independence and find it hard still to ask for help. What makes this more tricky is working out whether the person could actually do the task or if they are being a bit lazy and are more than happy with someone else doing it for them… now there’s another blog!
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
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Our VIDA Insights...
Following our experiences from delivering our Vision Impairment Awareness training days over the past couple of years, we know that there’s loads more that we could talk about and examples we could have shared. Whilst these won’t be a substitute for our training, they will give you an insight (hence the name!) into our thoughts, observations and experiences from each of our perspectives - Dave’s living with sight loss and Vicky’s from being a sighted person and working alongside and supporting people who have sight loss.