A Sight for Sore Eyes

The Lighter Side to Facing Vision Loss



The whole transaction happened so fast I didn’t have time to respond.

Headed away from the school, ready to deliver my cane “lessons!”

I held the receipt in my hand with its squiggly line drawn in place of my name, and lifted it closer to examine it.

What was this supposed to mean?

I thumped my head with the palm of my hand and rolled my eyes.

Now not only did my high school classmate think I had a drinking problem by tripping in the dark at our 30 class reunion, but apparently also this shopkeeper thought something amiss–in the bright light, no less!

As I held the paper in my hand, I thought about that line. Wasn’t my signature supposed to represent me?

Oh my goodness! I’m a crooked line in someone’s head?

I could see how I might have come  across that way. Maybe I bumped into  the bolt rack or swayed too far to the right, encroaching on the automotive display  as I slid my cane from side to side slightly ahead, my feet following in quick succession.

Yes, a crooked line could well represent me–if I let it!

But no! Wait a minute! I have POSTURE! I now walked straight, tall, confident and proud with my cane, didn’t I? Surely, I did! I wasn’t that squiggly line or crooked figure, bent forward, surging through the crowd in the off-balance kind of way I did before I began training with my cane.

Yes! I have a cane….and CANE without the ‘e’ is can. I. CAN. REPRESENT. MYSELF. PROPERLY.

Yes! I have a cane….and CANE without the ‘e’ is can. I. CAN. REPRESENT. MYSELF. PROPERLY.

As I stood at the passenger door of the car in the small parking lot, my hand hesitating over the handle, I suddenly wanted to turn around and return to that shopkeeper to demand a new receipt.

With a signature that truly represented who I had become.

I was safe. His products were safe. Other people were safe. The hardware store was safe.

There, holding onto the handle of the car door, I gasped. He didn’t think I was a squiggle! He thought I couldn’t see anything to make the squiggle.

Now I “saw” it all in a different light. I replayed it in my mind.

Now I “saw” it all in a different light. I replayed it in my mind.

I’d arrived at the counter with my big six-dollar purchase and no cash. So, Visa is was.

The shopkeeper rang me up.

“Where do I sign?” I’d asked, my eyes scanning the checkout for a paper to sign.

“This little grey box. See there’s a line?”

Oh, one of those little machines. I turned my head in hopes that the box would slide into my field of vision. Okay. My eyes adjusted to the dark-colored grey box and I picked up the attached grey instrument.

The shopkeeper misread the situation. In the time it took for me to “find” the screen, he concluded that I couldn’t see at all.

“It’s really not necessary for you to sign,” the man said, hastily taking the graphic pen from my fingers. “A squiggly line like this will do.” He dashed off a line in the space himself. “That’s fine.”

An awkward situation at best as I tried to understand why he hadn’t let me sign my name.

My jaw dropped as he regained control of his composure. He didn’t want to embarrass me. Like many other people, the shopkeeper wasn’t aware that people with canes weren’t all completely blind. He simply didn’t know that many of us have varying amounts of usable vision.

But we need a cane for safety. An added reach to give us confidence beyond our faulty eyes and arms. And an added signal all  is not as it seems with our sight.


Safety first.

I finally opened the car door, chuckling to myself as I folded up my cane and set it on the floor and got in.

I didn’t need to sign my name to prove to myself I wasn’t a squiggle. And even I did meander through the store, I still wasn’t a squiggle.

I didn’t need to sign my name to prove to myself I wasn’t a squiggle. And even I did meander through the store, I still wasn’t a squiggle.

I imagined how I’d handle the scene next time. I just needed a strong voice to say, “Thank you. I can see you care about my feelings.” That would segue nicely into my next line, “In fact , I can see more than you think. I’m partially-sighted.” Then I’d explain about the continuum of vision loss.

We would both smile. Maybe I’d wink to put him at ease. Maybe we’d even shake hands as I took my receipt. We’d both be a tiny bit richer in understanding. I’d cap our talk off with the appropriate phrase, “Oh, by the way, October is National Cane Safety Awareness Month.”

I’d turn and sweep my cane from left to right, safely making my exit.

I often wonder why God allows these things to happen to me. But with His perfect timing, I don’t even blink now. I just share it.

You’ve just read “I’m No Squiggle!” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright October 6, 2014. If you liked this post, please LIKE and SHARE it so that others can learn more about National Cane Safety Awareness Month.


You can read more about my cane training experiences in my brand new release, “Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith” available in both Kindle and Paperback HERE.

I’m No Squiggle!
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20 thoughts on “I’m No Squiggle!

  • October 7, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Hugs, Amy! You know, if there’s one thing I am paranoid about – it is vision loss. I have about 60% vision and cannot read with my right eye (since birth), but I manage fine. However, since the past two years it has gotten worse…and hence the paranoia.

    Without my glasses, I am terrified of looking at any print!

    Your post had me laughing and feeling a little tearful in parts! 🙂

  • October 7, 2014 at 3:29 am

    BEAUTIFUL! You are an excellent writer. I have to admit, that I haven’t really stopped to consider the daily struggles that you must have to face on a daily basis. While it makes perfect sense, I didn’t think about having to take “cane training”. Thank you for sharing…you have helped me “see more clearly”!

  • October 7, 2014 at 3:33 am

    I love your stories! It really helps knowing that I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

  • October 7, 2014 at 3:35 am

    Awesome post! Thank you for humbly sharing your experience. It is quite sad how quickly people judge others without having all the facts or details. I recently saw a research experiment, which was video recorded. The researchers hired an actor, who has downs syndrome, to portray a bagger at a grocery store. Then another actor would come through the line to be exceptionally mean and rude to the “disabled” employee. It was sad to see how many people allowed this behavior to occur, but heartwarming to see many other customers that gave the rude customer a piece of their mind. Some even showed love and respect – high fives and hugs – to the actor with downs as they still didn’t know he was an actor.

  • October 7, 2014 at 4:21 am

    Hi Amy,
    This blog boost is great. I am learning wonderful things from wonderful people.
    I have read a few of your earlier posts and conclude that you and God are wonderful teachers.

  • October 7, 2014 at 4:43 am

    Great anecdote, and I loved how you were able to put yourself in the shopkeeper’s shoes and understand that he meant well. Most people are accidentally insensitive, and usually when they’re trying to be most sensitive!

  • October 7, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Funny antidote. I admire your self-confidence in the face of what you have already and will continue to have to deal with. You are a strong and inspiring woman.

  • October 7, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    That is really true. Took a minute but I got a lot out of “figuring out” what happened and I’ll be prepared next time!
    Thanks for reading, Doree!

  • October 7, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Thank you so much, Doug! What a compliment!
    And what an encouragement that you are reading some of my posts!
    Come back for more stories!

  • October 7, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Janelle,
    You’re welcome!
    I saw that video clip! I agree that it was sad to see so many people not stop the behavior. Didn’t one person say it wasn’t her business to correct an adult? But probably some of the others were too shell-shocked to know what to do. Like you, I lauded those people who gave him hugs and stood up for him!
    Amy xx

  • October 7, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks so much, Quincy! I’m so glad you can relate!
    I love it that you come back to read my stories!
    Great name by the way, Magoo! That’s how I feel! =)

  • October 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you so much, Patricia!
    I have quite a ways to go but my being able to look at situations with humor gives me a boost in that direction!

  • October 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Hi Vidya,|
    I’m so glad you were laughing!
    (Sorry about the tearful parts)

  • October 7, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Twila! Thank you so much for your kind words. =)
    Yes, it’s necessary to learn how to use a cane. The better you learn how to do it, the more sensitive you become to the obstacles around you and the more adept you are at maneuvering! And also, did you know that you will not be accepted into guide dog training without good cane skills?
    Thanks for reading!

  • October 9, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Amy, I’m glad you were able to see the humour and laugh at the situation. It makes me think how even today my signature sometimes looks more like a scribble or squiggle and I have sight in both my eyes! 😉 So worry not my dear. No need to fret! <3

  • October 10, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Hi Amy,

    Having processed checks for many years at our business, it was amazing how many sighted peoples’ signatures on checks were “squiggle lines.” Yet the bank never returned any checks for “squiggle lines.” It makes me wonder, then, just how important is our signature in these transaction. But for me, credit card transactions are becoming as annoying as those dreaded “Wet Floor” signs.

  • October 11, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Things do happen for a reason, dear Amy! I love your posts, how in your gentle way you create awareness and remind us of our foibles and we are not the center of the Universe. Your story reminded me of 1) Patricia’s posts about Celine and how people are not always sure how to react to her crutches (and here she is, in the comment right above me!) (http://www.amummyslifenz.com/) and 2) my own post today (Don’t take it away from me). Similarly, by trying to help my Mom and be generous, I was actually depriving her of her dignity generating feelings of inadequacy.
    Big squiggly HUGS <3

  • October 14, 2014 at 3:32 am

    Hi Judy,
    You make me smile! I tried to seek out Patricia’s post about Celine and her crutches but I couldn’t find it. I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I also want to read your post about your mother. Can you send me a link?
    Thank you so much!

  • October 30, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    My writing on those darn machines is a squiggle, and I have reasonably good eye sight with glasses. Your stories bring your humanity and humor to each situation. I like your leaving the e out of cane – I can.

    Moreover, you have a way of touching the hearts and souls of people you interact with; regardless, if it an embarrassing, awkward, or just an ordinary situation. Keep on – keeping on.

    Be you,


  • October 31, 2014 at 12:52 am

    I am so glad you liked that piece, Dave!

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