I was bonding with my parents yesterday evening, watching The Walking Dead, as one does. It got me thinking (as every little thing seems to do): in a zombie apocalypse, who would survive? Not me!
Besides the fact that I tend to freeze in life-or-death situations, I’m disabled. In the majority of cases, I’d be a liability, and there’s no point sugar-coating it. It’s not that blind people can’t defend ourselves. We can take self-defence classes like anyone else, and many of us are very adept at looking after ourselves. In a fight to the death, though, I wouldn’t put money on most of us, and certainly not on myself. Those walkers would reduce me to a mass of steaming entrails faster than you can say “On your left!”
So, why does this matter? Well, it highlights a simple fact of life: in many situations involving physical altercations of any sort, there is no replacing the human eye. While I have great reflexes (I can stop on a dime as soon as I hear a noise that frightens me), these would not help me much in a situation requiring a lot of unpredictable movement. The walkers aren’t going to stop growling menacingly long enough to tell me they’re coming at me, and very little other than Lady Luck would swoop in to save the day.
Lots of girls are used to being coddled unnecessarily, and this type of coddling is ubiquitous when you have a disability on top of your presumed feminine weakness. (I can’t speak for men, but I’m sure they face similar presumptions.) In a stressful situation, people’s first instinct is to bundle me into a safe corner and tell me to stay put while they deal with the scary, difficult, dicey stuff. No need to burden me. And, as is my custom, I try to understand where they are coming from. They are trying to do the right thing, and the worst of it is that they are sometimes correct that I can’t help out.
I joked about being a liability in a wizard duel, but that has darker implications, ones which I’ve never really been able to ignore. A few years ago, my house was broken into. Two men, intent upon stealing and nothing else, thank goodness, thought my house was empty and barged inside, trashing the house and, to my consternation, tracking mud all over the carpets (how dare they?!). I was in my bedroom on the second floor, cowering in fear and totally incapacitated by panic. Instead of doing the sensible thing and making my presence known, I trembled, and cursed, and hyperventilated, and pictured all the ways I might be brutally disposed of by these terrible monsters. (Fellas, if you’re reading this, thanks for not killing me, but next time, take off your damn shoes, okay?)
It turned out all right. One of the men opened my door, saw me, and just about lost his mind. They fled so quickly that I didn’t even have time to cross the hall and grab the phone before they sped away. I guess I’m scarier than I thought.
I did realize, on an intellectual level, that most fifteen-year-olds, weighing all of 120 pounds, would have been pretty helpless against these men even if they’d had a weapon. Even so, part of me was convinced that if I’d been sighted, I could have done more, or at least stood more of a chance. Maybe I could have identified them, or caught sight of something I could use as an improvised weapon—who knows? No one ever dared blame me for it or even comment on my particular inability to defend myself, but they really didn’t have to: I was all too aware. There are plenty of blind people who could have held their own; I’m not one of them.
It’s pretty depressing, really, knowing that in plenty of cases, I can’t be of much help to myself or others. If there ever was some kind of global crisis, God forbid, I would be classified as a liability and lumped in with the elderly and ill. I would be that lone straggler in the herd of caribou, just waiting to be snapped up by a pack of opportunistic wolves. Sure, I could fight, and sure, I could flee, and sure, I’d have normal human instincts, but I still don’t like my chances.
So, okay, an apocalypse is very unlikely. Life-threatening situations, however, are not. People find themselves in them every day, and there’s a decent chance I might be in one again. How would I handle it? Would I be defenseless? Would I be rendered even more powerless by my disability? If I was with others, would I be useless, or worse than useless? Would I be in the way? Would I cost someone their lives because they were trying to defend me along with themselves? Deep questions, folks, deep questions. So far, I don’t like the answers.
I’ve had enough of zombies for now. Excuse me while I go watch something involving fairy princesses.