My Fear of Flying Isn’t About Flying At All

I love flying. Going to an airport, maybe a cheeky pre-flight drink at the right time of day, getting on a plane and venturing off to a far-away destination – it’s symbolic of an adventure. Take off, in-flight service (though we don’t get the meals we used to!) – it’s all part of an experience.

But, like most, there are things I don’t enjoy. Airport security, having to take off belts and watches and put keys your bag just to avoid the annoyance of the metal detectors going off, I don’t think anyone enjoys that. And being late to an airport for a flight is no fun either. I’ve never been paged, and never want to be either.

So low vision and the symbolic white cane seem to attract some odd behaviours from both ground and cabin staff. From those ‘Special Assistance’ tags they insist on putting on your checked bags, as if the bags somehow require ‘special treatment’ as they’re thrown onto the plane. To security staff who want to search your bag, demand to know if it’s your bag, but won’t let you touch it because that’s in breach of their processes.

I remember back to my first airport experience, the good old days when we queued at the check-in counters, had boarding passes printed out for us and marched off to security. I was dating a woman who had no vision. She stood behind me and we awaited our turn. They called but I didn’t think they meant us so paused for a second. This was too much for the woman behind us – she shoved her way past us, climbing over our bags and – without a word – continued on to her counter. I said to a Qantas staff member ‘wow, that was rude!’ and she just agreed with me, because … well it was.

At Perth recently, I was flying back to Melbourne. I was visiting a distant family member (who I don’t really know that well) and was travelling Business. Upon entering Security, this family member decided to accompany me through into the terminal area. The security staff wanted to look through my bag. I have no issue with this, I think it is good to always be sure of what people are taking on to planes. But I was a bit surprised when a woman grabbed my bag and demanded to know ‘IS THIS YOUR BAG!?’ – I naturally reached to look at it by touching it, she pulls it away and yells at me for daring to touch it. So I cannot identify that it’s my bag because how can I be sure? Once through security, she pulls everything out, lays it next to me, but says nothing. A further security check where  a guy wants to ‘swab’ my bag (which again I am fine with, I know we have to do these things), but what I was not fine with was that the distant family member starts to help the security guy look through my bag – and did they let him? Yes, absolutely they just acted like that was ok.

On another flight back from Sydney to Melbourne, I was in a lounge and had asked for the ‘Meet and Assist’ service. I really only need it to find the gate, once you’re at the gate, generally you can figure out where to go from there. I had used the airline’s app to check myself in, as I always do these days, so had my e-boarding pass on my phone. The app also notifies you as to which gate your flight departs from. But upon the ‘meet and assist’ person arriving, she asks the lounge staff which fight I’m in and the gate number – I advised the flight number and gate from the app, she doesn’t want to believe me though ‘just check that will you’ she says to the lounge staff. They then ask if they should ‘print his boarding pass’, she agrees. I apparently have no say in this. She then takes the pass and walks me to the gate, scans the pass and goes to walk me to the aircraft. At this point, I decided to inform her that I am fine to make my own way to the plane and don’t need further assistance. She looked shocked.

There is a one-glove-fits-all attitude towards disability at the airport, all people get the same high level of assistance, no matter how un-empowering it is. The technology has now come to the point where some tasks are much easier to achieve independently now – even with indoor GPS, a task like finding your gate lounge should be much less of a challenger.

But no amount of technology can help with the oddness of airlines and their poor understanding of how you, as a person who uses a white cane, are not actually sub human.

On one flight from Melbourne to Sydney I was attending a work conference, a cabin crew staff member said to the sighted colleague I was travelling with ‘if you need anything at all, like anything at all, just call for me’ – gesturing at me and insulting that perhaps I am high needs and – well I am not sure what she thought I might need help with. I shudder to think what ‘special assistance’ she thought I might need, but I do remember saying to my colleague, who was at that time relatively new to working in the vision impairment field, ‘and what exactly do you think I might need!??’ – he just looked at me and said ‘wow, that is horrendous, just horrendous.’ On the rip back, the crew were much better behaved though a passenger did try to lift my backpack onto my back without saying a word.

There must be something about the Melbourne to Sydney leg, I refuse to fly with one Australian domestic airline now after a ground crew member asked my colleague ‘is he fit to fly?’ – exactly what part of the flying process do I need to be fit for? Do I flap my arms out the windows to keep the plane in the sky?

I could go on al day about airport and airline stories, I mean you could write a book but I’m not sure it’d make good reading! But I’ll leave you with one last Sydney to Melbourne story. Lunch was great, to be fair. I was in the airport lounge and had a butter chicken that honestly would rival a top restaurant, it really was nice. Upon making my way to the gate, which I knew the location of because I’ve become quite familiar with the QANTAS Domestic terminals in Melbourne and Sydney. The staff at the gate lounge looked surprised that I’d arrived without their ‘special assistance’. They printed out my boarding pass, but I can’t be trusted with those important documents. So they took custody of it until I get to the plane. Upon sitting down, they get me some water. Do they just put it not he table? No, that’d be too easy. ‘GIVE ME YOUR HAND, GIVE ME YOUR HAND…I’M PUTTING WATER HERE, JUST HERE, TO YOUR LEFT, JUST TO YOUR LEFT’. I sometimes wonder what the other passengers think when stuff like this happens. But it continues… When they bring me a meal, the offer me a limited selection of drinks. Weirdly, nearby passengers were offered beer, wine, water or soft drink. But me? Oh well blind people don’t drink alcohol apparently (clearly these people have never been to a blind cricket match!) I get offered just the soft drink or water. I asked about alcohol, again that shocked look (I’m quite used to it actually) ‘oh err yes we have beer and wine’. At the end of the flight, there was a bit of ‘I’ll get my bag’, ‘no I’ll get it’ type stuff, but eventually I got off my ‘Flying High’ type flight experience.

What saddens me most is that despite everyone wanting people who have disabilities to be out in the community, working, travelling, studying, so we’re all not such a ‘burden’ on society, but when you have these experiences so often, you wonder if really have come very far at all. You can pretty much guarantee that if you go to an airport, something weird will happen.

But again, as I said before, I still love flying and won’t be stopping any time soon.

Daily Insults

On a tram recently, (it was peak hour) I stepped inside the door and I hear a voice ‘move out of the doorway ya geez a!’, I just ignored him. The tram was crowded, there was not really anywhere to go, but his anger continued ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’. I stepped back and bumped into a woman, who I apologised to and she was very understanding – but this seemed to make this guy angrier – ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY YA RETARD!’ He yells as he shoves past and sits down. It’s actually the third time in the last month or so that I’ve heard this same type of insult, a student on a tram called me a ‘retard’ when I bumped into his shoulder and apologised. I also hear it third hand, like girls on a bus pointing at you and stating ‘he looks retarded’. Yep ok, got it.

It just seems to be an that people have no tolerance of difference and the daily insults are, in many ways, quite tiring.

I have had 3 experiences recently where kids have asked about my appearance and mothers have had similar responses. Once on a train back from Ballarat, a woman exactly as to her kids ‘keep away from him, keep well away!’. Really? It isn’t a disease.

Getting off a no. 6 tram and a small child asks its mum about my eyes, she exclaims ‘there’s something wrong with him!’ And I have even had a mum and her child get off a tram when I sat near them.

And one more for this post, when I went to walk down a lane near home, a car turns into the lane and the woman driving the car sees the cane and exaclaims ‘OH GREAT!’ – yeah it’s such an inconvenience for you to … um … errr… oh wait it doesn’t affect you in any way right?

The unwanted daily insults are an indication that, in 2018 we haven’t really progressed much as a society really.

Grace, Dignity and Efficiency – The Three Goals for Mobility

An Orientation and Mobility instructor – a person who provides assistance to people who are blind or vision impaired to travel independently, once said to me that a person with a vision impairment has the right to travel with grace, dignity and efficiency.

My daily commute to work starts out like this but is usually interrupted along the way. A person yelling ‘OVER HERE’ when you walk towards the wrong barrier at the train station, someone grabbing you by your backpack to guide you – without initially speaking or communicating, a train driver explaining where a door is like he is giving instructions to a 4 year old child and my favourite – the constant belief that you will need to sit down on the train, bus or tram.

On the flip side, there’s the people that just ignore you completely, treating you like you are not actually there. A woman – rushing for a train, slams into my shoulder, but says nothing, keeps running, she crashes in to a woman further along her path, and apologies heartedly to her.

Yesterday on my way to work, I hopped on a bus parked in my bus’s bay – I had suspicion it wasn’t my bus – this was quickly confirmed when I enquired with the bus driver ‘Excuse me, is this the 902?’ to which he barks ‘NO!’ – clearly not in a chatty mood nor possessing any of the social graces that society may expect of him. But at least what he says is quick and to the point. Though I did miss my bus, which had pulled in to the bay before, and had departed by the time I’d hopped off the ‘NO!’ bus.

I remember last year on my walk to the train station, being confronted by a bike rider who felt the need to instruct me to ‘KEEP LEFT, KEEP LEFT’ so he could ride along the footpath.

Lectures on social étiquette are all too common in my expereience – like bus drivers who seem to feel the need to tell you, in a loud voice, to wait for passengers to exit the bus before you board.

And why people feel the need to physically grab you, to move you to that train door that you couldn’t possibly find on your own. I call it Compulsory Physical Assistance, because it’s like you have to accept it or people get angry or annoyed or confused. Its funny how also when you pull away, they grab you again, because clearly you don’t know what you’re doing. One morning at Camberwell station – it happened four times before this guy finally worked out that maybe I don’t need help.

So yes – one day I will complete an entire journey with grace, dignity and efficiency. One day.

The Morning Coffee

For a lot of people, the commute coffee is as much about the coffee as it is about the place where you get it from. A friendly good morning, light banter and nice coffee all go hand in hand. For me, I have a regular place, near my local train station. But occasionally you venture somewhere new, because you go a different way to work or you are somewhere different. So today I went in to a cafe opposite Camberwell station, it seemed like a nice place, friendly vibe, music, people milling around the barista. Upon entry, I was greeted with a friendly “good morning” from the woman making the coffees. But upon walking further down to the cash register, where a man awaited customers entering to take their orders. But he turns away from me. I was a bit confused. I look behind me, a woman entered the cafe. He asks her for her order. She tells him of her coffee and food requests and pays. I think this is rather odd. I’m clearly next. Well, actually I was first. So she walks away to wait, and he walks off. I wait. I wait some more. Then he points to another male staff member who then comes over and loudly asks what I want.
I have had many odd retail experiences. One time at a coffee shop near Glen Waverley station, a man serving me just grabbed my credit card out of my hand and proceeded to ‘tap’ it. He also yelled at me to ‘STAND BACK’! And when I asked him once if they had Apple Pay, he barked loudly “NO WE DO NOT!’. Like he was so frustrated by the question.
But the ‘being ignored’ thing is really odd, having to wait for others who are after you to be served first, having your hand grabbed physically and guided to payment devices, being told to hand over your phone to pay seem all too common experiences.
Once in a department store I awaited service and the ignoring thing became so demoralising that I did walk out. I had come in to buy a Dyson heater which was quite expensive. I think people assume if you have a cane you can’t see them ignoring you. I waited 20 minutes that day. I rang the store outside and spoke to the manager to complain. But I shouldn’t have to.
Attitude towards disability in retail is very poor in this country in my experience. I often prefer to buy things online to avoid these experiences.

A Guide To Being Conspicuous – Part 1: The Bus

It’s a warm day. The bus area at Glen Waverley seems quieter than usual. Well quieter in terms of pedestrian traffic. The ambient sounds of bus engines, a few crows and the distant sound of platform announcements from the station fill the air. A woman at my bus bay sits in the shelter by herself. She starts signing. First I can’t work out what it is but then realise it’s Silent Night. She’s kind of loud and slightly off key. She sees me and asks if I want to sit down. I politely decline. She springs to her feet as the bus pulls in. An external announcement says ‘this is the route 902 – service to Airport West’. As much as I complain about buses, I do have to say that an external announcement telling you which route it is is extremely helpful. Why trams and trains can’t employ this technology is a mystery to me.

We enter the bus. Silent Night Woman runs to the door and bounces onto the bus – exclaiming ‘yes I get the front seat!’ as she sits down looking very pleased with herself. I walk down the aisle and some dude sees my cane. He jumps out of his seat, without a word, moving quickly down to the back of the bus like a frightened sparrow. A woman exclaims ‘THERE’S A SEAT THERE!’ in a loud, slowed down voice, as the bus pulls out from the curb and commences the next leg of its journey.

An internal automated announcement informs us that ‘the next stop is The Glen Shopping Centre’ but seriously you’d need hearing aids with a decent amount of amplification to hear that.

Some bus drivers seem to not be able to speak at all, others seem to over-compensate barking things like ‘BE SEATED’ as you enter the bus – spoken in a tone of voice that a parent might use on a small child. I don’t actually need to seat down. Or have things spelt out to me loudly and slowly. It’s like people think vision impairment is a physical and intellectual disability. Like most people, if I stand, I hold onto something or lean against something.

I have also experienced people physically grabbing you, often without communication, pulling you towards that seat you apparently need. Or informing others that ‘he needs to sit down’. Like they have bad news to impart upon me.

Someone sent me a message about my Inappropriate Bus Behaviour post – as a fellow person with a vision impairment, he’d thought we – as a society – would have improved over the years. But that this is sadly not the case.

I’m going to finish with two more bus driver quotes. One was at the stop outside where I work. There are three different routes that go past here, so until a bus pulls up, you don’t always know if it’s yours. I saw a bus, flagged him down, then realised it wasn’t mine. I apologised and thanked him for stopping. He says ‘thanks for making me stop when I didn’t have to.’ – I pointed out that I have a vision impairment. Really, if I could see enough to read those bus numbers, I’d probably be driving to work.

The last one for this post was a bus I’d caught into the city – to meet colleagues from a previous job. As we approached my stop, I stood up and approached the door. I’d think fairly normal bus catching behaviour. The driver opens his window and exclaims ‘MATE, SIT DOWN, IF I SLAM ON THE BRAKES YOU’LL GO THROUGH THE WINDSCREEN!’ – well if you have to ‘slam on the brakes’ maybe you shouldn’t be driving a bus. I didn’t actually say that though, I just ignored him.

Vision impairment doesn’t affect common sense.

The Wide Barrier – The Ultimate Obstacle

‘Excuse me sir, the wide barrier is over here.’ – it’s a seemingly helpful comment that is soaked in ableism.

The Wide Barrier

There are some among us who have a ‘one glove fits all’ philosophy when it comes to disability. So if you use a white cane because you have poor eyesight, you have the same requirements as a person who is in a wheelchair, even if they can see perfectly. To use a millennial expression – ‘wait … what?’

So how do you find a wide open space if you have a vision impairment? You reach your arm out or put your cane out – nothing. Reach out a bit further or put your cane out even further. Still nothing. You move forward and eventually there’s a wall or a barrier or an object. Hopefully not the edge of a platform.

Why then do so many people assume you need to use the ‘disabled’ toilet – which actually isn’t a ‘disabled’ toilet, its specifically for someone in a wheelchair? What about the wide barrier at the train station? Again, helpful if you’re in a wheelchair, or have a pram. But really not that helpful if you use a cane.

Airports and planes are a series of blog posts all on their own. But I have had a number of experiences on budget airlines where they want you to sit in the ‘wheelchair row’. The extra leg room is nice without any of the perks of an upgrade to Business. I can sit anywhere on the plane though, so why here?

For some people who have vision impairments, they may like the wide barrier – maybe because they use a guide dog. But the assumption that you go there because you have the ‘one glove fits all’ disability – well that’s just ableism. We’re not all the same.

Inappropriate Bus Behaviour

My trip in to work is quite long, it involves a 15 minute walk, a 20 minute train trip and a 25-30 minute bus ride. But I knew that when I took the job on – and like most public transport users, I am also very aware of what happens when your modes of transport don’t line up and how that can make the trip even longer. Extra time spent standing on a platform or at a bus stop, awaiting the commencement of the next leg of your journey into the office. To be fair, the trip generally is fairly smooth. Though I would like to still reserve the right to complain about it – especially in those cold winter months.

You get to see familiar faces on the train and bus each day. The same people going to the same places, sitting in the same seats, it almost feels like you know them – except you don’t.

There are small odd things that happen regularly. Like a person who moves to another seat when you sit next to them. It’s quite rude really when you think about it. I mean I definitely showered today! And I’m not sure that vision impairment is contagious.

Occasional seat offers, people grabbing you without speaking, people discussing your requirements with each other when you are clearly within earshot. It is a stand up comedy routine just waiting to happen.

Recently on my trip to work – I was running for a bus. It had already arrived and was sitting at the stop. My train had arrived late that day. Anyone familiar with bus bays will know that the gutter line isn’t straight, it curves in and out so buses can park in a line on slight angles. Some engineering student probably got a HD for that idea. Navigating along this gutter line can be a challenge. I’m running, cautiously, so I don’t step off, but getting enough speed so I don’t miss the bus – you know the old saying ‘time, tide and bus drivers do not wait’.

I jump on the bus just as it’s about to pull out and I can feel a sense of relief. Which is quickly silenced by a massive amount of laughter I hear from beside me. A group of teenage girls from a local Catholic school think that I clearly looked funny. They laugh and point and giggle to themselves. One of them pulls out her phone, points it at me and snaps a photo. A happy snap to preserve for eternity. Or at least for her Snapchat followers. ‘That weird guy with a. disability who ran for the bus, looks so stupid!’ – she uploads it to Snapchat and shares her handle with a stranger on the bus who is also laughing. She even spells it out to him twice so he has it correct. He eventually stops laughing and says to one of the girls ‘it’s not  that funny!’ – perhaps a wave of guilt has passed over him?

The girls go on laughing, eventually they get off at their stop and the bus returns to its usual silent state, disturbed occasionally by a ‘the next stop is’ announcement.

And I am left to wonder what ever became of that photo?

It’s a new age of trial by social media. Once upon a time, that moment would have perhaps caused a few laughs that might have lasted 2-3 bus stops. But now, it results in a photo, a status update, shares and likes and a thread of responses that you maybe don’t want to think too much about.

I could insert a rant here about community attitudes towards people who look different. I could go on about inappropriate use of social media. Teenagers have behaved like this since the dawn of time, they just have different stages and platforms now than what they used to have.

In my opinion, the biggest issue here is education. How we are taught at home and at school.

‘I Am Disgusted’ She Exclaims…

I’d been working in the CBD – I love the city, the atmosphere, the fact that decent coffee is close at hand and I love the atmosphere on the street. Buskers playing their songs, people just going about their business. The homeless guy on the corner selling copies of The Big Issue.

It’s a 45 minute tram ride home and there are 10 different tram routes along Swanston St in Melbourne, so figuring out which tram is yours isn’t always a smooth process. But luckily I have an iPhone app that can at least narrow down the process. It shows a wheelchair symbol for low floor trams. And occasionally 2 out of the 10 routes might have a low floor tram so that means there’s a 1 in 2 chance of you getting the right tram.

So I hop on my tram. It’s quite crowded. I put my backpack at my feet and fold up my cane. I grab on to a nearby pole – standing without leaning or holding onto something can present challenges as the tram lurches forward and back.

Minding my own business, thinking about the day at work and what I might do for dinner – I hear a woman’s voice off in the distance. ‘I AM DISGUSTED!’ she exclaims. I feel a cringe coming over me as her voice gets louder. She is approaching where I am standing and repeating those same words over and over for all to hear. ‘I AM DISGUSTED!’. She gets to me and exclaims ‘NOONE HAS OFFERED YOU A SEAT!’. I am always confused by this. This assumption that you need to be sitting down because you have a vision impairment. I don’t have any issues with my legs. Or physical strength. Or balance. But she continues. ‘That girl there, on her iPad, she should offer you a seat! That man there on his phone, he could stand up!’. She goes on, pointing out unsuspecting fellow commuters for this seat crime that they had committed.

I had a bus driver once who exclaimed ‘SIT DOWN PLEASE’ when I got on a bus. Did he have some bad news to tell me that I needed to sit down for?

The Science of Moving Schools

The year was 1989. Lots of things were different back then. Teachers used blackboards, not whiteboards. They wrote in chalk. There were no smartphones or tablets. Everything was handwritten or photocopied. Occasionally we’d watch videos on VHS tape. The technology I used at school centred around three things: a monocular for reading the blackboard, a pari of classes with a bubble magnifier lens and an electronic typewriter which mostly stayed at home and was used for essays and assignments.

I had just moved to  the small Central Victorian town of Maryborough – there were two state secondary schools being Maryborough High and Maryborough Tech and there was also the local Catholic school. I went to Maryborough High. The buildings were old, freezing in winter, and, you guessed it, hot and stuffy in summer. There was always this faint smell of gas in the science classrooms. I had started at Maryborough High in year 9 when my parents decided to move from Colac, where I grow up. Looking back now, I often think changing schools half way through year 9 was perhaps not the wisest decision our family had made.

The enrolment process wasn’t smooth – I remember the principal questioning whether I’d have been better off going to a ‘special school’, but being a stubborn kid with an even more stubborn mother, we pushed forward and I started there in June 1989.

My first day at Maryborough High began with a stern Home Economics teacher barking at a group of year nine boys in an assembly ‘If any of you give Glen a hard time, you’ll have me to deal with!’ – I could be seen cringing in a corner. I actually jokingly said to those boys later that I had not put her up to that and frankly had just wished she’d kept her mouth shut.

I think the bullies at the school weren’t really interested in me – they had the year 7’s to concentrate on. After my experiences at Colac High (where we’d moved from), I’d learnt the hard way how to handle bullying. If you tell a teacher, it regulated in the bullying intensifying and becoming relentless.

For me, the issues at school were around exclusion, just being treated like you are different – feeling like you were always an outsider.

Science was a subject I quite liked. I remember clearly experiments with Bunsen Burners and Sulphuric Acid (not together!). You don’t actually think of limitations, you think of approaching things in different ways so you can participate. Thinking of limitations is a job left for teachers and classmates.

One day – our Science teacher decided to divide us up into groups. Each group would nominate a person who’d go into the classroom next door and bring back an overhead projector. The groups were 3-4 students in size. So I promptly volunteered myself to be the ‘go get the projector’ person. On my way out the door, I heard the teacher say to my group ‘are you sure Glen is capable of doing that?’ – I paused but decided to ignore it and keep walking. I found a projector and carried it back in to the classroom – all the time reflecting on what the teacher had just said. My normal strategy – ignore it. Not today. I put the projector on the table and asked Mr Science if I could talk to him. He comes over to me.

My heart was pounding, I’m not used to this sort of confrontation. But I had two points I needed tog et across. ‘So, Mr Science, I heard you say to my group “Is Glen capable of that” as I left the room.’ – he was dead quiet. I continued ‘I need to say two things. Firstly, I know these things are valuable, so if I didn’t think I could do this … well then I wouldn’t.’ My heart was pounding, he was dead silent. But (what I hadn’t noticed) so was the rest of the class. I continued – “my second point, Mr Science, is I’m not deaf, I could hear you clearly, please in future if you have something to ask about me, can you please ask it directly to me.’ – my voice was calm and soft, I didn’t get angry, I remember the feeling, it was more disappointment and shame that I even had to do this. He remained silent, he mumbled something and went on teaching the class.

I had apparently learnt some sort of status among some of the students for standing up to Mr Science. I had not set out for that, I had just wished the whole thing had never happened in the first place.

Did Mr Science learn from this experience? Well, no. I heard form another teacher later that he’d said something like ‘Glen and I had a misunderstanding.’ – there was no misunderstanding for me. I was very clear on my expectations of how a teacher should behave. How anyone should behave.

Thanks Mate – When Others Are Thanked On My Behalf

Today was a refreshing day at the train station. Trains had not been running all the way into the city for the past five days. A commute to Glen Waverley or to the city involved getting a bus from Darling to Richmond. (Yes we have a station called Darling!).

So there was a feeling of relief in the air today at Glen Waverley, as passengers disembarked a train that had just arrived. Even the staff seemed relieved – like their first day back at work after a week’s leave.

So I swipe my card to get through the barrier and I’m greeted by friendly banter “Morning sir, good to have those trains back, eh?” to which I respond with ‘yep … definitely nice not to have to be on a bus!’. It’s peak hour, so there’s a rush of commuters coming towards me, wanting to get on the next city train. Looking forward to a full, uninterrupted trip all the way into town.

I bump into a guy as I take the corner. He’s wearing a high-vis vest. Well not high enough ‘vis’ for me, as I stepped on his foot. Before he has a chance to react, I chime in with an ‘I’m sorry’ – he’s all good with that – ‘no worries mate!’ he exclaims. But is that the end of it? Well normally it would be – but no. The attendant at the barrier says to the man ‘thanks for that’ – like somehow he needs to thank the man for accepting my apology and being a good sport. But I am left to wonder why it is that we need that backup thank you. Was my apology not good enough?

People speaking on your behalf is a common occurrence for anyone who has a sight impairment. I remember a story not so long ago where a truck was reversing out of a driveway. The driver had stopped to wait for traffic but was completely obstructing the footpath. I paused and waited for him, but he was taking some time. I was eager to get past as I had a tram to catch. A fellow pedestrian came up behind me ‘mate, there’s a truck there!’ – something I was actually already aware of, then once the truck had moved, ‘ok it’s safe now’ – something else I was aware of. The truck driver called out to the pedestrian ‘thanks for that mate!’ – which puzzled me. Why could the driver not have just said something to me directly? The whole series of interactions seemed pointless really.

I never know quite how to react in those situations – the truck driver has gone, the pedestrian feels as though he’s done the right thing and was thanked for his efforts.

But the real issue here is why are we seen as the third person? Like how you would react as a parent on behalf of a small child when they do something inappropriate.

I am not a small child.