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Please Take Your Foot OFF My Brake Pedal (Or Why Leaving Me To My Fate Is Sometimes The Best Option)
Standby for a reasonably accurate description of me - I am a practically stubborn, seriously shortsighted (myopic, nearsighted), Half-Dutch person, who has the great misfortune of being of the female persuasion.  (Someone did call me feisty but it is not a word I would apply to myself - nor is it a word I can actually spell.)

Don't worry - this is not going to be one of those rants I sometimes read which wonders why we insist on dividing adjectives between the genders.  (I really think the people who write those rants should find a more productive hobby.)  There are certain words which describe aspects of the different abilities and personalitires of men and women better than others.  Unless you are planning to re-write the Oxford English Dictionary in such a way that gender specific terminology is totally removed - in which case I wish you good luck - there is no point moaning about our use of the English langusge.

I have to admit that my personal dictionary has evolved into something slightly different to the standard one when it comes to certain words - "Can't" and "Won't".

Those two words have slightly different meanings when applied to me both by myself and by other people.  If you tell me I cannot do something you are likely to get one of two reactions out of me - either I will take it as a challenge or I will wait for you to supply me with practical, tangible, reasons why you don't think I can do it.  The same applies to you telling me I won't be able to do something.

Remember I said I was "practically stubborn"???  Well, I was brought up to find my own way of doing things that the rest of the world can wherever possible.  One of my first memories of school was trying to get from one side of a climbing frame to the other side by swinging through the middle - missing my hold on the middle bar - and hitting the tarmac.  This was because I had seen some of the older children do it and I wanted to be like them.  I suppose you could say I have been attempting to be like everybody else ever since.

Be warned - there is a great difference between me telling you I cannot do something and me telling you I won't do something.

Unless I am telling you I cannot see what you are trying to show me (or small writing, etc), or I cannot speak Czech, etc, - in which case take me literally - when I say I can't do something I am usually saying I cannot do it on my own and I need help or advice.  Either that or your instructions need to be modified so I can do what you have asked of me in my own way and my own time.

If I start telling you I won't do something this means I have previously attempted all known methods, hit a brick wall, given up all hope of being able to achieve my objective, and you have no hope of talking me into another attempt.

Strangely enough - I always feel bad when I have to admit defeat and ask for help.  Put it this way - I would go down a spiral staircase before I asked for help (and those things are the most dangerous things known to man as far as I am concerned).

Of course I know that when people start telling me I cannot do something they are working from their own experiences and ideas.  That is where my "practically stubborn" side comes in.  Provided you have not told me that what I want to do is illegal or immoral, I will try my hardest to do what I want to.

I can give you a couple of very good examples;

When I have missed the last bus home from the village where my Dad lives (before Arriva put the evening buses back on) I have walked part of the way home on my own (one night I got nearly three quarters of the way home before I didn't feel safe enough to continue because it was too dark).

One day I was looking for a Metro (Underground) station in The Hague.  The signposts dried up at the bottom of a very steep staircase (made worse by the fact that the treads were open and the staircase itself looked flimsy - not to mention it had an open side underneath it).  I could have chickened out and got a train to my intended destination but I was determined to get the Metro.  The Metro looked like it was going to go through one of my favourite places in Rotterdam (it turned out that it didn't follow the original train line but that is another story).  I managed to get up the stairs - powered by sheer adreneline and a strong desire to catch the Metro - only to find myself in a bus station.  I was stuck.

I took one look at the staircase I had just come up and decided it was way too steep and flimsy for me to even bother considering dreaming about bouncing down it.  As I was wondering what to do I sae some humans walking towards shelter so I followed them and eventually found a lift which got me back into the railway station.  I eventually found the Metro line on the ground floor on the other side of the wall to the staircase.

Let's just say that if I am determined enough to do something I will find a way to do it.  The time you may want to spend arguing me would be put to better use either trying to help me or finding something else to keep you occupied.

I will tell everybody that my sight is too bad to drive.  I have been told by some poor delusional human that I could probably see well enough to read a car number plate from the required distance.  However, there is one reason why I know for certain that my sight isn't good enough to pass a driving test.  It involves the one thing I would love to be able to get a job driving - a Double Decker bus.  Yes - you did read that right.  A few years ago I decided to take part in a "Drive a Decker for a Quid" (one pound to foreign readers).  I am not sure who was more scared (the instructor at the beginning or me at the end).

Funnily enough I kind of choose my friends in the same way as I choose my obstacles.  Until you prove to me that you are bad news (damage me physically or emotionally, or do something to lose my trust) you can give me all the warnings in the world and they won't work.  I judge on actions not words.

Unless you are prepared to allow me to stamp on your brake pedal without knowing all the facts regarding what you are trying to achieve please keep your foot away from my brake pedal and abandon me to my fate.  I usually have some idea of what I am trying to do.

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