Hell is Other People by Charlotte bennie

I’m sure everyone agrees help from members of the public is usually a godsend. The wee wifie who confirms the Lady Detective and I are just at the Butcher’s glass door in its glass wall; the wee sowel who warns about yet another hole in the pavement, abandoned by some utility company. Without such assistance, life would be even more awkward. 

However, there are exceptions. I don’t want to appear ungrateful, but there are occasions when I could cheerfully tell some apparently well meaning person to go away. If I may use a euphemism.
There I am, having attended some event, such as a talk at the local Book Festival. The hall is busy and I’m attempting to harness up a long, tall Guide Dog in a particularly narrow aisle between untidy rows of seats. Folk are heading briskly to the back, where a famous person is signing their latest edition. And, out on the landing, there’s another crowd, already restive to be seated and settled.
“Can I help?” A total stranger has breenged in, and is hovering over my Detective, one arm flailing around the harness. It’s unlikely this person has ever dealt with a Guide Dog in their puff; otherwise, they would know better.
as the breenger is occupying every available space, with difficulty I attempt to continue my task, conscious of people squeezing past. My tactic is to stay quiet; in the vain hope this show of concentration will deter the pest.
But this seldom works. Even once all is clipped and ready,the hoverer remains; blocking others’ exit. Burbling continues; and, eventually, I am forced to explain I dislike holding up the progress of others and, anyway, I’ve a tight schedule.
A similar situation is the touchy feely person. Again, there we are, attempting to safely and without fuss, extricate ourselves from a crowded room when, there she is. This type is usually female. All cooing and clapping; yittering on about how much she loves dogs and how beautiful this one is.
Now, I quite agree on that but I’m not out to satisfy someone else’s vicarious delight in canine company. Yet again, I throw a deefie and hope Husband will place his bulk between me and the pest. Even worse, is when I’m having a conversation with someone; perhaps a friend down in the town. When, all is interrupted by some gushing eedjit. Are they as visually impaired as me? Or just plain thoughtless?
Then, there are those whose remarks suggest they have never heard of Assistance Dogs. The person who declares loudly, someone has brought a dog to the proceedings, and now, its hairs are everywhere. I had just settled my Detective and myself into a minute seat in a crowded venue at the Book Festival; making sure, as best as I could, we weren’t an obstruction and that the yellow, high vis flash on the lead, announcing this was a Guide Dog, was visible against her black coat. Simultaneously, a wifie pushing through to grab a Good Seat, tripped over my Detective’s
tail and a Posh Voice announced, is she’d realised dogs were allowed, she would have brought hers along too. Just what exactly, does the sighted public actually notice?
Supermarkets and other shops can be just as bad. Husband sometimes parks me and the Lady with the trolley while he dashes off; either to find something we’ve forgotten or to search for an item which seems to have vanished from the shelves. I stay motionless, ensuring that the trolley, the Lady’s tail and paws and me, are all out of the racing line of normal customers. But, there’s aye one! Nudging, or rather, shoving a trolley into my little group and demanding we move. Never mind the stacks around us; shelves of gin; teetering arrays of fruit. Never mind that a blinkie is unlikely to safely steer a trolley.
I stand my ground; glare in what I hope is their general direction; and explain I cannae see my surroundings. Occasionally, this provokes an embarrassed retreat. Usually however, they just stand. And more stand. Obviously totally flummoxed. Is this person able to control a shopping trolley? Or this one of those who believe things would be so much easier if thae disabled folk jist stayed in the hoose?
I could go on. And on.
Jean Paul Sartre, I think it was, said, “Hell is other people.” I know exactly what he meant!




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