Eating out – Dick Barbuto

Eating out – Dick Barbuto

Posted on Nov.02, 2012, by , under Inspirational Stories

This article is a compilation of things that have happened to me while eating in restaurants. You would think that might be a review of some of the things regarding accessibility that are governed by federal and state law. Nothing could be further away.  I would like to address in a humorous way some of the problems that confront people with low vision while eating in a restaurant.

The easiest part is getting into the restaurant especially now that you are all using the long white cane. The harder part comes after you sit down and start to get down to the business of actually eating. In the part of the country where I live, typically the restaurants are not well lit and have a dark decor. I am told that in many of the restaurants the Windows are darkened which is to keep the heat out. I’m not sure I believe that (I thought that’s why they were using air-conditioning) but I have heard it enough times so that I will run with it here. What that actually does is make the restaurant even darker to a person that has low vision. Well, okay you say, but what about lights. What about them? If the real reason for going dark is to keep the restaurant cool, why would you expect they will brightly light the room? The next thing that you will have to deal with is the inevitable dark furniture. So what you say. Well, try and pick out silverware that is wrapped in a dark napkin on a dark brown table. The likelihood is that you will be able to get around this issue just-in-time to figure out that you are not going to be able to read the menu. Maybe somebody at the table will be kind enough to read it to you because you can be sure that the wait staff is not going to be helpful. Just last week I was ordering a baked potato. The person taking my order asked me if I wanted it “loaded?” When I asked him what that meant he told me to read it in the menu. I told him that I had a vision problem which apparently affected his breathing because I was then treated to a long sigh. I then further told him that if I wanted to have it read I would’ve asked someone but seeing as how he had probably said what a loaded baked potato was five or 6,000 times, that doing it my way might be faster. I also wondered if he might “see” his tip flying away. After having a conversation that rivaled the Vietnamese peace talks I finally got my order in.

But, I have skipped a step. One of the critical parts of eating out is what to order. For people with low vision this is not just a question of what you like or what looks good but there is also the issue of how easy it is to eat. Parenthetically, I prefer food that is stabable. For example, it’s easier to get meat on a fork than lettuce.  For people with good vision try shutting your eyes and eating a salad. Didn’t think of that one did you?

Now you’ve picked out what you’re going to have to eat and while you are waiting for the dish you will be invited to drink something. I usually have a Diet Coke which of course, is a dark color and often times served in a colored glass. Seeing a pattern here? If you can’t see where the waitperson puts a glass you can always ask someone or slowly paw around the table until you come across the drink which may, however, result in what I refer to as “the first accident.”  I remember once when a waitperson brought Coke to me, placed it down and told me that my drink was at 12 o’clock meaning the top of my dish. I wanted to fund her college tuition or at least buy her a car.

Eventually, you will come to the main event, also known as eating. If you have paid attention what you have ordered and done so wisely, this can be relatively uneventful. With some practice you might even finish your meal without “the second accident.” The one thing you will not do is finish your meal at the same time as any of your table mates. Desserts, being what they are, must be the subject of a different article. There are just so many ways to get into trouble when eating dessert.

Eating out is probably not as difficult as I have made it seem but I sometimes think that dealing with issues in a humorous fashion is the best way to go. So the next time you go out to eat think of some of these things and have a chuckle for yourself. If anyone asks you why you are laughing, tell them that you just realized for the 1,000th time that sometimes funny stuff comes out of unfunny situations.

Note: I write this stuff because I I enjoy it. I do not get paid for this. I say this because Enhanced Vision makes some highly rated portable magnification/illumination products that can be very helpful in many situations, such as reading a menu. Take a look at the Pebble and Mini-Pebble. They can be found on other pages of the Enhanced Vision website.