Sometimes I think the biggest challenge I face as a deafblind person is dealing with the general public. Let's face it; when I walk into a public place, such as a coffee shop, I stick out like a sore thumb. I have an assistance dog, I have my braille PDA or braille magazine and if I'm with someone else, likely as not I'm conversing in American Sign Language. It's pretty common for folks to stare at me. I've gotten used to that. I don't like it, I feel like I'm always under a microscope, but that's just the way it is.
There are some people though that go beyond staring.
Take the weird lady who decided it was perfectly acceptable for her to take a photograph of my assistance dog while I was standing in line at a craft store. Her reasoning was that "my friend loves dogs."
So she starts talking to my dog and according to my SSP making kiss-kiss noises at Laveau. News-flash number one: It is never OK to distract an assistance dog. I don't care if it looks like the dog is working or not.
News-flash number two:
I'm not here to be photographed, to have my privacy violated, or to stand still so someone can make their friend happy by texting her a picture of me and my dog.
News-flash number three: my dog is not going to look at someone; even if they make kiss-kiss sounds. My dog is working and she's serious about her work as she should be. Her "job" does not include pausing so she can get her photo taken.
Then we get to the people who stare at me while I sign. Like I said above, staring is a fact of life for me. But when people come up to me and start spouting off about their love of signed languages and how "beautiful" they think it is; it's all I can do not to tell them that I was talking about serial homicide and it takes a real weirdo to think that's beautiful.
Also, I don't care if someone's great aunt was deaf. I don't care if you learned to sign the lyrics to "Silent Night" when you were in the third grade. I just don't care. I'm trying to live my life, just like the next guy, and hearing the life-stories of a bunch of people isn't really on my list of things to do®.
Then we get to the charming specimen I met yesterday in the Walmart parking-lot. I get out with my dog and he asks if she is for sale. He appears to be serious. Unfortunately, this is not the first weirdo who has asked if they can buy my dog. I inform him that he can't afford her and I'm on my way.
It is rare for me to have an outing where somebody doesn't over-share with me, ask me personal questions or otherwise invade my privacy, try to kick me out because of the dog, or otherwise disrupt my day.
If I had a choice, in my next life I would come back as some anonymous Joe. Someone so unremarkable and dull that I am passed by on the street without a second glance.
Until that happens, I keep my wits sharp, and my tongue sharper.