It’s difficult to feel inconspicuous when I’m out in public. The white cane doesn’t exactly blend in, in fact it’s designed to be noticed, to alert others–at least all those not glued to a cell phone–there’s something different about my mobility. The white cane works for my mobility, but not always my sensibility.
That’s why I’m surprised when I integrate into my surroundings without second glances. It’s not so unusual when I’m in familiar environments and I’m comfortable with the layout, but it’s the new places I visit where I manage to blend in. It makes me pause, wonder what the secret factor might be in this event of camouflage. The pattern I found? Put me in a place serving alcohol and the spotlight of my white cane fades away.
I noticed this at a brewery tour I enjoyed with my family. I made my way through the operational facilities that smelled of fermenting hops and the vast bottling building without much trouble– although some extra yellow highlights on the stairs wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Those around me who were a bit over eager in the tasting room teetered along, especially descending the stairs. Watching fellow tour goers walk with determined but unsteady footfalls put a grin on my face, a realization that my deliberate steps weren’t noteworthy here. A revelation started.
When I attended a wine festival with friends, the same thing happened. I spent hours sampling tens of wines, jostling and bumping gently into other attendees as I sidled up to the tables for another pour under the winery tents. The sun warmed up the open-air festival, live music and the scent of lunch cooking in the food trucks at the far end of the grounds crowded the air. People around me moved in unpredictable waves. I followed my considerate friends to the next tent, listening to one of them read the numerous offerings aloud.
The disorganization of the traffic flow led me to feel at ease. I wasn’t watched like a main event, the wine and conversations and singing were more interesting than anything I could have created. So the pattern was clear: let others around me ingest some alcohol and the lady passing with the white cane will disappear into the chaotic flow. Who knew?
Have you toured a brewery or attended a wine festival lately? And where do you find yourself blending into your surroundings? Tell me about it.