Thursday, October 13, 2011

Public Polite to Colorblind Photographer

I first realized I was color blind just before my double digit years.  It was when our family traveled from South Philly over to my paternal sister's home in Magnolia, New Jersey, a Philadelphia suburb, to enjoy the sunny day and celebrate my younger cousin's birthday.  The whole party was spread out on the lawn; playing games, sitting on multicolored lawn chairs, shooting the breeze and taking in the suburban South Jersey lifestyle.

As the day progressed, my father, who never really talked much, remarked about all the apples in the tree across the road.  I looked up, liking apples, and queried, "Which tree?"  He looked at me as if I might be joking and a backhanded smack might be in order.  He pointed definitively at a tree and said, "That tree with all the red apples!"  I touched my left cheek to his short sleeve and looked down his right arm and off his pointed stogie stained index finger to the tree.  I figured the closer I stayed to his hand the less it would sting when it hit.  I couldn't see any apples from a distance of 200'.  I jumped up from my chair, quickly putting distance between my cheek and his hand, and walked towards the tree.  The closer I got to the tree, the better I could discern the red apples from the green leaves and it was only after the relative size of the apples was large compared to the mass of leaves.  I guess parents don't need to be polite to their children.  Children need to learn to be polite to their parents.
In high school, I had a chemistry workbook that contained printed colorblind tests (PseudoIsochromatic Plate Ishihara Compatible).  Hidden in the graphics were either numbers like 25 or a word like onion, most of which I could not see.  Needless to say, my fellow Central High School students, as smart as they were, didn't need to be polite.  They fell to the floor, holding their sides, laughing at my deficiency.

Within the last 15 - 20 years, I needed to be tested every two years for a commercial driver's license.  Every time, I failed the color blind tests.  At that point each doctor would realize they had found a jewel that needed to be mined.  Doc would gather all the staff to witness my inability to see the numbers hidden in the graphics.  I felt like a curiosity, a freak, some three legged chicken or a two headed calf in a bottle of formaldehyde.  Does knowledge override politeness? 

If you see a 2 you have Red-Green color deficiency.  I see a 2.
There was one other time that was really embarrassing.  I purchased a skirt and top as a Christmas present for my soon to be wife.  I was trying to impress her with my fashion sense.  I believed I bought a grey skirt and mauve top.  When the presents were reveled they were actually a mauve top and a green skirt, which didn't go together as a set.  My betrothed was very polite.  Needless to say, I stopped buying coordinating clothing for others from that day forward.  I sometimes wonder about my own clothing.

I've lived with the knowledge of my color perception deficiency for some 50 years.  I've called myself a photographer for the last 40 odd years.  I guess I figured out how to get around my handicap.  Either that or there really are some polite people in the world. 


©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

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