Have you heard the joke about the blind man who walks into a department store, hoists his service dog overhead and begins swinging it in circles by its leash? When a clerk asks what he’s doing, the man responds, “Just having a look around!” That and other anecdotes, both true and fanciful, make up Who Left That Table There?, the first in a planned trilogy about the lives of Visually Impaired Persons (VIPs) intended to benefit organizations working with the blind.
Author Hanoria M C Baranovich is herself visually impaired. In this narrative, she discusses briefly her own experiences and also includes stories and anecdotes from others. It’s not always clear where one contributor leaves off and another jumps in; chapters don’t provide fixed boundaries, and the material ranges from observations about blindness to jokes to a travel diary from a friend’s cruise. Among myriad points, the author notes that blindness is an isolating condition, and many contributors tell similar tales of being in public with a loved one and having people address questions to that person as if they’re a translator.
Although themed chapters and clearer identification of contributors would be helpful, the humor makes up for a lot. Consider the woman who took her service dog to a restaurant only to have a waiter give the menu to the dog. Or the bus rider who had some fun with a boy asking about her white cane, explaining she used it to see by popping out an eye and setting it in the roller on the device’s bottom. These are genuinely funny stories, but also offer insight into how VIPs use humor to cope, and how the sighted might be more attuned to their needs.
Who Left That Table There? is an ambitious first volume that falls short of a smoothly presented whole. One hopes subsequent volumes will enjoy better organization and more editorial polish in order to enhance the author’s worthy material.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.