What I See Isn’t Always What I Get

See all the fence posts? I might think they were people at a distance!
See all the fence posts? At a distance, I might think they were people!

35-Day Author Blog Challenge – Day 14

I like that computer term, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). A long time ago, when I taught English for Computing, I learned that it meant whatever you write on the screen will look the same when it is printed out. 

If only my vision were the same way! 

But, over the years, at a distance, I have mistaken fence posts and garbage cans for people, a pink shirt flapping in the wind for a flamingo (I was in Kenya), 

Probably my most memorable incident took place in Egypt.  My then husband and I were spending the day shopping in the oldest marketplace in Cairo–the Khan El Khalili. The ancient alleys were more like labyrinths. It seemed each one led to another alley and maze of shops. 

As we continued to wind our way through, the aromas of spices, mint tea and karkaday (a sweet hibiscus beverage, served either hot or cold) blended together with that of leather, wood and musty clothing. 

Ihab was looking to buy some silver food platters – but negotiations among the locals take time and a shopkeeper’s hospitality is always part of the transaction. Small glasses of mint tea and sometimes cookies are offered. They talk about family,  the roads and, nearly always, politics. Finally, they get down to business and start bantering with various prices. 

I was hot and a trifle bored. 

So, I looked around and to my delight, I saw a big dark cat some distance away. The cats in Egypt are a poor lot so I was happy to see a well-fed one in the alleyway.

“Here, kitty. C’mere, kitty. C’mon! He-e-er Kitty!” 

It must have heard me because it stopped what it was doing and looked my way. 

I clapped my hands several times and held them out invitingly to the cat.

Ihab and the shopkeeper who had been in deep in discussion of their corrupt leaders suddenly stopped. 

The shopkeeper whipped his face in the direction of the cat, and Ihab jumped up, so alarmed by something he over his small glass of mint tea.

What was going on? Was there a fistfight in the alleyway? 

But no, Ihab turned to me. “Shhhh! Shhh! That’s not a cat! That’s a gigantic, well-fed, as-big-as-a-cat, the mama-t0-beat-all-mamas, beady-eyed black rat!”


He bent over and took off his shoe and threw it at the nonchalant creature who was now twitching its whiskers and eyeing us with curiosity. 

“Ihab! Your shoe!” 

He–I guess it was she–dodged the shoe and scooted around the corner. But she crept back to continue to watch us. 

I imagined Ihab limping out of of the marketplace with one shoe on–unless he stopped in another shop to buy a new pair. 

“Sometimes the rats in  Cairo eat the cats,” the shopkeeper said, shaking his head, tsk-tsk-ing, and no doubt mourning the loss of a possible sale.

I couldn’t believe I made such a colossal error–and even worse, that the rats grew that big. But this was Egypt and there were lots of food scraps in the old marketplace. 

The shopkeeper said, “She probably think you want give her big, big food. You have sweet voice. So, aiwa, she come you. Why not?” 

The creature took its time in leaving.

The shopkeeper retrieved Ihab’s shoe–probably in hopes of resurrecting a sale. Ihab took it but I don’t think he really wanted to wear it–at least for long–because he did end up buying another pair before leaving the Khan

As for the long-awaited sale, Ihab must have felt obligated to buy one of his silver platters after the shoe rescue. I was glad because the poor clerk would have likely followed us for the rest of the day if he hadn’t.

That incident became one of Ihab’s favorite tales to tell whenever we a newcomer came to Egypt and we took him or her to Khan El Khailii. 

That mistaken identity reminds me of this eyeglass commercial. 

Every time I see it, it makes me laugh and I remember the cat / rat episode.

This is my life. It’s a good thing I have a sense of humor. 

But it’s also something other people with low vision deal with.

Today one of my colleagues in the Sight Support group posted a story of how she confused a cat and a SKUNK! 

I think most of us feel that while we have to cope with these inconsistencies, at least our lives are never dull! 

What kinds of things have you confused? What is your funniest story? 

You have just read, “What I See Isn’t Always What I Get”  by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright Sept 26, 2015. Don’t forget to comment, like and share it.

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2 thoughts on “What I See Isn’t Always What I Get

  • September 27, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I get confused by how kids use computers – it take so long to teach them how to type. I recently had kids who would put a space before every full stop… that takes some time to format. I enjoyed your post.

  • September 27, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Ashley,
    Welcome to my blog! Thank you for reading my post and commenting. Glad you enjoyed it!
    Wow! That sounds time-consuming. I wonder where they got that idea. I taught some Middle Eastern women how to type and it takes great patience. 🙂 Amy

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