I found it quite interesting that one of our first assignments in Pub 101 was talking to a stranger. Mainly because it seems so out of the range of so many other assignments given in university courses that I was a little surprised. Although I did enjoy the change of pace with challenging ourselves to get out of our comfort zones and attempt to talk to a stranger, it was a breath of fresh air to do something different.
Because of the fact that I am totally blind I end up talking to random strangers almost every day for directions and help. Something that has become such a part of my everyday life that I hardly give it a thought before I call out to someone, and as soon as I realize that I need some help I don’t even hesitate anymore to ask someone who is walking past me. When I first lost my sight and came to the understanding that I would be placed in situations where I would have to ask a random person for help I was quite uncomfortable, but as time went on I realized that if I wanted to go anywhere on my own as independently as possible I would have to suck it up and simply just ask. So because of the fact that I do this pretty much every day in one situation or another, I didn’t find it difficult or uncomfortable. When in class we were talking about our individual experiences with talking to strangers there were funny stories, and even some awkward ones. While listening to the other students’ encounters I thought back to all the recent situations where I asked a stranger for help, and came to the understanding that in an informal situation with someone I am very comfortable talking with them and almost always attempt to get a conversation started. I have definitely had my share of funny, awkward and even completely rude encounters with talking to strangers, but given the situation I am in with my blindness it is something that I have just accepted. More often then not when I go to ask someone for directions or help it is mostly me explaining the best way to help me in the form of guiding me by me holding on to their elbow, or asking for left and right directions instead of “its over there”. Even though it feels like more of a lecture on how to properly assist a visually impaired person I still try to make a conversation out of the situation to make the person more comfortable with the fact that they are talking with a blind person, since a large number of people it seems are uncomfortable with people with disabilities. I understand their discomfort, and do my best to ease it and show them that I am like any other person, I just can’t see, and of course even with me trying to make conversation and make them more comfortable around me there will always be people who just want to have the encounter be over, but I also get a number of people who become more and more comfortable as we talk because I think they start to see that I am like anyone else – I can hold a perfectly good conversation, I simply just can’t see. Over all I really liked this first challenge with Pub 101, and am excited to see what else comes our way throughout the semester.