Braille Monitor                                                    June 2008

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Ask Miss Whozit

A formal place setting, complete with placecard bearing the Whozit logo and the words "Miss Whozit."From the Editor: From time to time Miss Whozit answers reader questions about etiquette and good manners, particularly as they involve blindness. If you would like to pose a question to Miss Whozit, you can send it to the attention of Barbara Pierce, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, or email me at <bpierce@nfb.org>. I will pass the questions along. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Here are the most recent letters Miss Whozit has received:

Dear Miss Whozit,
With the upcoming national convention drawing near, I wish to bring up a topic that has bothered me for a long time. In the past, whenever I have gone to blindness functions, I notice blind people placing their folding or telescoping canes on the table in front of them. Sometimes I have even seen collapsible canes remain on the table while a meal is being served. I find such behavior exceedingly rude because cane tips are dirty. I compare this habit with placing oneís shoes on the table. I mostly use a straight cane, so I rarely face the problem of where to stow a collapsed cane. I try to place my cane under the table. If it sticks out too much so that someone could trip over the end, I lay it along a wall, prop it in a corner, or wedge it alongside me as I would in a booth. Whenever I do use a collapsible cane, I place it either on the seat beside me, under my chair, or on the floor under the table, where it wonít bother anyone. I never place it on a table, even if no meal will take place. I wish other cane users would do the same thing.

Is this a legitimate concern, or am I making too big a deal out of nothing?

Cane Courteous

Dear Mr. Courteous,
Miss Whozit agrees heartily with you. She agrees so completely that, even though the questions this month are very brief, she is going ahead with an abreviated column in the hope that our colleagues attending the convention will take note and moderate their behavior accordingly.

Miss Whozit does not wish to be indelicate, but a momentís reflection on the number of restroom floors, filthy sidewalks, and sewage-contaminated puddles the average cane tip traverses should persuade anyone that it does not belong on a table where ladies and gentlemen are conducting any activity.

Dear Miss Whozit,
I hope that this question is not too sensitive for your column. I will make it brief. I have several blind male friends who, when being guided by a woman, use that offered assistance as an opportunity to--shall we say--check out her physical attributes. They think they are being subtle, but I believe that most people who offer to lend us an arm know which bumps and brushes are accidental and which are not.
What do you think?

Mr. Respectful

Dear Mr. Respectful,
Of course sighted women recognize when blind men are taking advantage of close quarters in a crowded elevator, bus, or waiting room or when they are being guided, just as blind women can tell when sighted men intentionally grab them inappropriately ostensibly to guide them. All women, blind and sighted, should object immediately and overtly to such inappropriate touching. I fear that sighted women who do not take offense simply feel sorry for a man so deprived of social experience as to resort to such behavior. I also suspect that many women accosted in this way conclude that all blind men are likely to suffer from wandering hands and therefore stay away from situations in which they might be asked to guide someone. That is a high price for all blind men to pay. Do your friends and all of us a favor by trying to persuade them that immature groping to achieve a moment of physical gratification makes them appear both rude and silly and gives blind men a bad name.

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