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

Walking home

I was on the train the other day, travelling home after a day’s work. I spotted, across the carriage a neighbour of mine sitting, reading. I’m not certain whether he saw me, but I was keen not to engage. So I decided not to and kept my head down all the way back.

Was it because I don’t like him? Not at all, he’s a very nice guy. Was it because I was feeling anti-social per se? Not totally.

I felt afraid.

I knew that, if I engaged with him, I would probably need to walk back the twenty minutes home in his company, in the dark.

Now, I’m not much cop in the dark  –  my eye condition renders me even more “disabled” in the hours of darkness than in daylight. I was afraid of the awkwardness, both for myself and for him, of having to navigate our way through Barnet whilst having a conversation. Trying to talk, keep up with the person with me, and avoid people, street furniture, wheelie bins, etc., can make for quite a cocktail of stresses.

I felt afraid then, and I feel sad now.

Sad that something as ordinary as walking home enjoying convivial conversation with a neighbour should be something to fear. Yet it’s not an impossible situation. Next time, I could approach the fellow traveller, chat with him on the train and, as part of that, be up front about my trepidation and see how we could rub along with it on the way home.

It’s precisely these kinds of, apparently minor events that can hit home hard. They highlight just how visual impairment can –  if I allow it to  –  start to restrict or even curtail social contact. It’s not just the obvious big things like driving that are affected.

Anyway, should any of my neighbours be reading this, then I promise that if I see you on the Northern Line, homeward bound, I shall say decide to say hi. Unless of course, I happen to feel grumpy and anti-social anyway – always valid, whether visually impaired or not!       



4 Responses to “Walking home”

  1. Hi Chris, I can imagine your dilemma, especially as people rush everywhere. You might be thinking the other person wants to just get home as quick as possible and you don’t want to slow them down, they might wish they’d walked with you if they saw you, but didn’t want to “help” you in the wrong way! Or maybe they wouldn’t know if you needed/wanted any help. When you say hi next time and tell your fellow traveller of your trepidation it will be easy for the person to ask you what would and would not be helpful. My Dad as you know has macular degeneration and it’s really quite bad, but I know he likes to be as independent as possible, sometimes I really want to do something for him, but I know I usually must not!

    I like your blogs, Chris, thanks for something thoughtful for me to read every Monday morning!

  2. Hi Chris – Looks like your neighbour dodged a bullet ! Only joking of course. Their’s an old saying “give chance a chance”, and you will never know what good may have come out of the chance encounter. If you think about it, how many seemingly irrelevant small decisions have you made in life that have served to change it for the better (hopefully !), I made a good decision once – there was this guy at college who seemed very shy, whilst we were all having a great time. I sort of felt sorry for him, so I took it upon myself to introduce myself and we got along really well. It was he who told me about some openings at the Royal Mail, and to cut a long story short, I applied for a position, was successful and spent 23 years in what became the biggest step change in my career. Its a bit of a selfish view I might say, but it really was a win/win as I still keep in touch with Les.

  3. Hi Chris

    I suggest authenticity is best and proposed that you say it like is it.

    In that manner, I am sure your neighbour would accept your concerns at face value. They would have had a choice either to muddle along with you on the way home, or say “actually Chris, I’m in a bit of a hurry and need to push on. See you about soon”. Your honesty would give them permission to say this.

    Let’s see it another way; maybe your neighbour saw you too. Perhaps they were thinking “if I say hi to Chris, I’d be obliged to walk home with him and that could be awkward. Best pretend I haven’t seen him”.

    So instead of communication you both remained silent. Maybe, as in Alan’s story, an opportunity was missed.

    I really appreciate the learning opportunity your blogs provide for us all. Keep them coming.


  4. Thanks Sue, Alan, Michael – all really helpful comments. Two things that come from it for me – firstly, how we can all get into a kind of game playing around such things, especially if one party or t’other wishes not to connect for whatever reason. I often feel reserved and would rather be “undisturbed/undisturbing” when travelling, so have been guilty of pretending not to see someone such as you suggest, Michael.
    Alan, your point, of course highlights the downside of this – those lost opportunities. “Lucky” people are usually those who take that step to connect and often end up making their own luck. Who knows though, Alan had you not made that particular connection a different one may have occured which may have led you to become a multi-billionaire or rock superstar or even both! You never know…..

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