Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Chris the contract breaker

When we sign up to a contract it is a serious commitment. We are duty bound to honour the agreement for the good of both parties and hopefully to the rest of the community.

However, there is one contract that I have repeatedly broken throughout most of my life. Now, before any of my business contacts recoil with the assumption that I’m going to default on agreements made with them, please stick with this…….

If we observe what goes on at a busy railway station or in a shopping centre, we will see people weaving through the throng and skilfully all buying into the contract that says “I don’t invade your space by bashing into you, and I expect the same from yourself – agreed?”. Sometimes, of course this will be broken by people who are preoccupied, the worse for drink, or talking on their mobiles etc. However, the vast majority of the time, we humans are pretty co-operative and adept when it comes to fulfilling this particular contract.

Then along comes someone with restricted vision – a blatant contract breaker. He/she decides for whatever reason not to use a cane or dog,  and the trouble begins. Because they don’t carry the requisite equipment that indicates their valid get-out clause, others see them as unreasonable breakers of the agreement.

As a person with a visual impairment myself, I have in the past consistently broken this fundamental  contract. Just as with any other agreement, people have become irritated, even angry when it’s been transgressed.

I sometimes wonder what havoc could ensue if 100 visually impaired people were let loose at the same time, cane-less and dog-less, into a crowd of shoppers or commuters. It could be quite hilarious, although it could also turn into a messy and painful bloodbath!

Well, thank goodness for my skinny white friend, aka my white cane. This item is probably both the simplest, and one of the most effective pieces of technology ever invented – yet to be bettered.  Living as I do in this twilight world of seeing and not seeing, my cane gives me some relief from the stress that comes from not being able to honour the agreement. People make allowances, usually they understand, often they even offer assistance. Such a relief.

It was a big step to start using a cane for the first time – it can feel like a stigma. But once over it, the feeling of liberation can be awesome and even fun(!) as I cut a swathe through the masses of people locked into the contract.

It’s important though, that I take care of how I use the cane as I can still step out of line – inadvertantly prodding a buttock, accidentally lifting the back of skirt hem or sending a toddler flying with an over enthusiastic swipe are major contract breakers.

Having said all that, I may feel tempted to recruit 99 other visually impaired people out there who might fancy a spot of contract breaking at Kings Cross or Westfield some time. A kind of partially sighted flash mob. The confusion and havoc caused could easily compare to that being wreaked in the banking world at present! Mind you, we’d probably need protective body armour but It could be fascinating and, if filmed,  even go viral on YouTube!

Until next time, mind how you go……


If you are looking for a speaker for an event, I am now available to speak about life with a visual impairment. The stories I tell help raise awareness in a way that is accessible, hilarious, moving and inspiring in turn. Email contact below:       


One Response to “Chris the contract breaker”

  1. I think you should send this to Peter White at BBC In Touch – I think he’d love it … and probably sign up for your flash mob! Would it help if there were say a yellow cane for learner users … to overcome the opposite problem you’ve had with the cane?

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