Wednesday, 16 February 2011

It is Award season and "The Worst Guide" In the World goes to......

Pic. of guide dog lead and harness hanging on chair
The main differences between the canine guide and the human guide are: humans don’t sniff strangers in embarrassing personal places, (in general that is!) nor do they attempt to pick up discarded kebabs from the gutter. [Well, most of them don’t.]
To be a good guide. requires more than dragging someone from “A” to “B”, a guide needs to be aware of; differences in walking surfaces, how wide a gap is to walk between and the height of over hanging obstacles like low branches and signs. When I’m being guided I take the guide by the elbow or shoulder and walk half a step behind. So as long as the guide takes into account any imminent dangers it should be simple. Well.. you would think so. For some people however, this appears to be beyond their capabilities. Labradors with pea brains can cope and neurotic German Sheppard’s manage, surely, a human could do it effortlessly. I can split bad guides into three categories.
Pic. side view of Renton ears at the ready!
The first is the ethereal guide: so busy describing the wonders of the world they often fail to communicate the basics. Potential fatal obstacles, like cliff edges are often over looked in favour of the descriptions of the surrounding scenery. My partner Christine falls into this category. 
She is five feet and I’m six feet tall. A factor that Christine forgot as she led me along the beach once on holiday.  She was so preoccupied with her new surroundings and describing the beautiful turquoise sea, that, she forgot the row of coconut trees that I was bouncing my head off of as we walked along the beach. 
The second type is the over zealous variety.  They can be a menace by taking their job so seriously. They describe every potential hazard within a mile radius in infinitesimal detail that overwhelms me with irrelevant information. Every small crack in the pavement, a tree, and leaves on the tree, a wall and anything else within view, is audio described. I am suffering from complete information overload and it’s impossible to take it all in. So I just stop listening. Inevitably I’ll walk into something, much to their displeasure. 
The third is the lackadaisical guide, my Artist friend, Andy is a good example.  We were in Paris working on a joint sculpting project, and we had to get around on public transport. To discover that he had the guiding ability of a disoriented Lemming was a shock. It became apparent very quickly, that Andy just couldn’t guide a blind person. 
One of his main problems was being able to tell his right from his left hand... For long periods Andy would guide me along the wide streets of Paris when he would terrify me by unexpectedly shouting “run left, now!,” we crashed into each other like some kind of keystone cops scene as he shouted again, “no I mean right” I then sprinted across one of the busiest roads in Paris against the traffic lights hanging on in terror.    

Dressed for the award season Close up Rentons fur, all wavy and textured

These days I’m very choosy whose arm I’ll take. So don’t be offended if I stick with Renton .  He might be young  and inexperienced, but at least he knows roughly what he’s doing. 


  1. You forgot to mention the really nervous types. :) At first I was nervous leading blind people around, but I've become so used to it that it doesn't faze me anymore. I still love seeing those people who are leading for the first time and you can tell they're thinking, "Oh my God! What if they run into something!?!?!?!?"

    I think I fall neatly between over zealous and lackadaisical. Sometimes I give too much information, but generally I try just to tell of immediate obstacles and I can't tell my right from my left.

  2. tres interessant, merci

  3. Ian
    With an extra squirt of perfume and my elbow duly buffed and smoothed, I'm all ready for the next time we meet.
    Love the blog, made me laugh out loud ... which is just not done in an open plan office.
    Keep 'em coming ... god knows we all need a laugh.
    Vicki x