“Get your idle hands out of your pockets. Busy people don’t keep hands in pockets.” I recall an old manager’s words echoing across the concrete back room I used to work in as I walk my carpeted office hallway without my cane, shoving my hands in the pockets of my cozy blue puffer vest. I love pockets.

I never ended up on the receiving end of that advice. My father, who rarely missed a school day, taught work ethic by example. If he could hold down more than one job than his teenagers would be employed, too. Those youth work permits in PA were used in my house early and often as my sister and I matured. Thanks, Big G.

Next week I start working full-time again. But with 40 hours a week or not, outside of work there’s a particular hands-in-pockets idleness that I don’t get to frequent much with my visual impairment. A universal kind of idleness which occurs when you’re waiting in the checkout line with your Thanksgiving shop or enjoying a walk with a slight chill in the air, places where you are anonymous in public. And readers, I’m kinda jealous.

Before gaining low vision, my full concentration could drift as I waited or walked, no need to be extra alert to environmental obstacles. Socially, unless I smiled or made eye contact, people wouldn’t really engage me. I wasn’t dodging personal conversations back then that strangers strike up now as I silently mind my business, honing my Baltimore scowl. If I didn’t hold a white cane, would people still interrupt me to ask personal questions?

I’m aware of the lost anonymity when I notice casual public idleness. I miss the fleeting moments of moving down a sidewalk with both hands in my pockets, lost in contemplation, no thoughts of bracing for unexpected sandwich board signage or unwieldy children or curious strangers.

Now my pockets fill with necessary cargo more often than my hands. Don’t get me wrong, I’m content using my white cane as I make my way around unassisted. It empowers me. But sometimes when I’m waiting around within the bustle of human routines, sometimes this busy lady wants to drift in uninterrupted thought and be idle. I want to put my hands in my pockets.

What are your pocket moments? Tell me about it.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. floridaborne says:

    I have 4 dogs and 2 cats to trip over. As I jokingly tell other people, if I didn’t know how to fall, I wouldn’t be walking. 🙂

    I do miss being able to get into my car and ride across country to see my kids. That kind of independence is something that most people take for granted.

    1. A sense of humor is an asset with vision loss. I sympathize with the loss of driving independence–the convenience of driving is definitely taken for granted by people.

      1. floridaborne says:

        It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t “been there.”

        I tried to take the “transportation disadvantaged” service. It took well over an hour to get from my house to the work site, with much of the ride over washboard dirt roads on ancient buses with barely padded chairs. It takes about 25 minutes by car.

  2. I totally relate to this loss of anonimity…I cannot go ANYWHERE without people noticing and approaching me with my guide dog (who is quite beautiful-a golden retriever). Usually I am okay with it, but it does get tiresome to answer the same questions and to teach the public about blindness and guide dogs…sigh…gone are the days when I can just melt into the sea of people in public. Heaven forbid if I go to the store with a spot on my shirt!

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