Joe and I often eat out when he has a day off.  We tend to go to the same places where we know the food is good and I am familiar with the lighting and layout of the restaurant. Dining out with RP definitely has its challenges and I like to be ready for whatever comes at me out of the dark corners that occupy most of my vision.

There are often awkward moments with waiters who I don’t see coming with menus and plates of food. Occasionally I bump into someone while waking to the table, but I have Joe to help guide me and I always follow closely behind him.  I tend to avoid using the restroom so I don’t have to walk through a crowded room and risk a possible collision with a server carrying trays of food and drinks.  I know that waiters and patrons must notice that something is off with me, but they usually just stare and don’t say anything.

Last weekend, we went to Canters Deli; a historical landmark in our part of Los Angeles.  It is almost always crowded, but we have been there a lot and I made it to the table unscathed.  We had an exuberant and quite gregarious waiter who recommended I order something new, which I didn’t regret.  He was great about checking on us and refilling coffee and I thought I was going about my meal with my RP undetected, but I was wrong.

When our waiter brought the check, I asked him if I could please get the uneaten part of my meal to go.  He smiled and looked at me quizzically, then looked down toward the table.  I followed his eyes and saw that he had already placed the to-go container in front of me.  Naturally, I didn’t see him, because I only have 15% of my peripheral vision.  Usually, waiters just give me a stare and a grimace and move along, but this guy said something.  He commented on having noticed that when he brought our plates, I didn’t even flinch in acknowledgement of his being there.  I was actually grateful that he took the time to say something because it gave me the opportunity to tell him about my vision loss. It is always refreshing for me when people don’t shy away from the RP elephant in the room.  So, I gave my little spiel about RP, I made a little joke, he made a little joke (which I  like because it lightens the conversation) and wished us a good afternoon.

I know I have written about this before, but because I don’t see what I don’t see, RP often sneaks up and reminds me of the steel grip it has on my life.  I struggle a lot with feeling different and inadequate, so when someone treats me like a grown up and talks to me about what they notice in regard to what I am obviously not seeing, I find it releases me from uncomfortable and awkward feelings. The waiter at Canters got a good tip.