February 25, 2019
152 — Love At First [blank]
[00:01:33] CHRIS: Hello to everybody who hates bullies. Oh my God, I hate bullies and I hate the bully described this call. Anyway, it’s Beautiful Anonymous one hour, one phone call, no names, no holds barred.
[00:01:47] THEME MUSIC: I’d rather go one-on-one, I think it’ll be more fun and I’ll get to know you and you’ll get to know me
[00:01:57] CHRIS: Hi, everybody. Chris Gethard here, welcome to another episode of Beautiful Anonymous the show I feel really lucky to do. I was thinking the other day and I was like my job description is shut up and listen to other people. That’s a good job. I thank you guys for supporting this show and allowing me to have that job. I’m very, very grateful for it. I don’t take it for granted. I say that every January. Thanks to everybody in the Beautiful Anonymous Facebook community. The discussion of the King of Silver Linings episode from last week was really eye opening to me. A lot of people said, what a good old school – someone chill, rolling with the punches then other people saying it’s not so easy to quit your job. It’s not easy. And maybe the perspective there is from someone who has a life where it is easy to quit a job. And I’m probably one of those people who has some privileges as well. So it’s a good reminder that this show is people telling their own perspectives and other people with different perspectives, digesting that, reacting to it. I thank everybody, the Facebook group for the reactions. Don’t forget, I’m going all over the southeast, North Carolina, two cities, South Carolina, Huntsville, Alabama, Atlanta, Nashville. You can go on my Web site, ChrisGeth.com for all those tickets. And do check it out would be so nice to meet some of you guys out there on the road. This week’s episode I’m so excited to tell you about, so excited. One of the things I think I’m I’m probably most proud of in life is that this show has turned into a place where people from all different life experiences, people from all different walks of life, can come in and sort of get on record and let the world know what their life experience has been like. And I can tell you that all of us here involved with the show we love the randomness and the chaos of just letting the phone calls come in. We also have made a real effort to make sure let’s get as many people’s life experiences represented as possible. And this is one that I haven’t heard. This is one that I never expected to get a call on. Our caller today is blind. Our caller doesn’t utilize the same amount of senses that the majority of us do and tells us what his world is like, tells us some things that I found very heartbreaking, tells us some things that I found extremely inspiring. It went a lot of different directions, the caller’s funny and smart and engaging. And I felt like he and I also clicked, too. I think it’s a really good call. I’m proud of it. And I think you guys are going to enjoy it.
[00:04:30] PHONE ROBOT: Thank you for calling Beautiful Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host. [Beep]
[00:04:40] CALLER: Hello.
[00:04:41] CHRIS: How’s it going?
[00:04:43] CALLER: Pretty good. How are you doing?
[00:04:44] CHRIS: I’m pretty good, I didn’t sleep great last night, but I’m doing OK.
[00:04:47] CALLER: Man, sorry to hear that.
[00:04:50] CHRIS: It’s alright
[00:04:51] CALLER: I’m super excited to be talking to you, man, though, I’ve been listening to your show since the first episode.
[00:04:56] CHRIS: Oh, that’s awesome. Thanks for checking it out.
[00:05:00] CALLER: Yeah. How’s your day been?
[00:05:03] CHRIS: My day has been good. I pretty much woke up, took a shower, made myself a nice mug o’ tea and then I wandered out into the cold so I could come here and talk to you.
[00:05:16] CALLER: Nice.
[00:05:17] CHRIS: How about you? How has your day been?
[00:05:20] CALLER: You know, pretty good. I got up ass crack of dawn with my wife. She goes to school today, but I’m staying home today, so I’m hanging out. I’m actually having coffee, but I’ll probably be having tea later.
[00:05:36] CHRIS: You’ll double up. You do a coffee and tea.
[00:05:40] CALLER: I do so much tea.
[00:05:43] CHRIS: They call that walking on the wild side.
[00:05:44] CALLER: Yeah-
[00:05:45] CHRIS: Your coffee and tea in your life? You’re really, that’s walking on the razor’s edge. That’s what they call that.
[00:05:50] CALLER: Man, I’ve got more drugs than you can count.
[00:05:53] CHRIS: Really? Okay. We’re talking about a lot of caffeine in the coffee. Slightly less caffeine in the tea. I think, right?
[00:06:00] CALLER: Yeah
[00:06:01] CHRIS: Tea has a little less caffeine, right?
[00:06:02] CALLER: Yeah, I usually drink actually decaf tea. It’s usually for the aesthetic more than anything.
[00:06:09] CHRIS: Now what if this entire hour was us talking about coffee and tea and not really even expressing many opinions on them? Just quiet chitchat about hot beverages?
[00:06:20] CALLER: You know, I would not be surprised and neither would my wife if she heard it.
[00:06:26] CHRIS: Wow, all right.
[00:06:27] CALLER: Man, I’ve got so much shit to talk about.
[00:06:30] CHRIS: Okay, well I’m in. I like to listen to people’s shit.
[00:06:34] CALLER: Yeah, I noticed. So, I mean, I guess I’ll start by saying I’m a blind guy.
[00:06:42] CHRIS: Oh wow –
[00:06:43] CALLER: Probably the first blind guy on the show that was, you know, that was my great honor.
[00:06:48] CHRIS: Yeah, I believe that. I believe that’s true.
[00:06:51] CALLER: Yeah. I’m a blind guy and I’m 23 years old and I’m going to college to become a software engineer.
[00:07:06] CHRIS: Wow and ok, so first question, which I’m sure is not a surprising one. Were you born blind? Did you go blind at some point in your life?
[00:07:16] CALLER: I was actually born blind. But I like to say that I’m legally blind. But, you know, I’m not completely blind, as in I can see, you know, I can see light and I can see shapes around me and I can see some colors if they’re bright enough. But I saw a little bit better when I was younger. I used to be able to make out things a little bit further away than I can now. So it’s slowly deteriorated up until this point, but I’ve learned to live in the world as a blind person since I can remember. So I’ve learned to read braille when I was 4 and learn to walk around with a cane pretty much same time. So yeah, I’m pretty used to being blind at this point. That’s kind of the – it’s only reality I know.
[00:08:13] CHRIS: Yeah, this is a, I gotta say a perspective, I’m very, I feel very lucky to have on the show.
[00:08:27] CALLER: I’m very excited because I told my wife this too is like if I had heard an episode where another person had gotten before me, the first blind person on the Chris Gethard, ya’know on Beautiful Anonymous, I would’ve been pretty pissed at myself.
[00:08:38] CHRIS: Really? I thought you were going to say, see, here’s where I thought that was going to go. I thought, you’re going to say, if I had heard something like this when I was young, it would have, you know, somebody’s first person perspective of being in a similar situation to the one I was born into. It would have been very helpful and would have been very grounding. And instead, now you’re expressing that you would have felt petty jealousy to not get there first.
[00:09:03] CALLER: Exactly. That is, I mean, I’m probably if I were young and I’d been listening to the show, I would have felt the way that you expressed. But I’ve grown into a man with many petty jealousies.
[00:09:16] CHRIS: Right. So you’ve been sitting here. We’ve been doing this show about, what, three years now? And you’ve been sitting there this whole time going if some, if somebody else gets to the blind thing first, I’m going to freak out.
[00:09:31] CALLER: Exactly. Exactly. I was like, I heard the episode with the deaf guy. I thought that was super cool, though.
[00:09:40] CHRIS: Yeah, I really –
[00:09:41] CALLER: I know that that’s probably the episode that kind of started to, you know, inspire me to want to call in because I’m not a very social person, I’m not. You know, I’m actually quite a loner and I don’t talk very much, so it’s never been like something for me to really open up. I don’t do that very often. And so I never really thought about it. But when I heard the episode with the deaf guy was like, I learned so much that I didn’t know. And I was like, that could, you know, that could be really helpful. I mean, that actually the deaf population is a little bit bigger than the blind population. They’re less blind people all over the world. So there’s not a lot of information for the average person about blind people and how we live.
[00:10:30] CHRIS: Yeah. Yeah. Let me ask you, when you say that you’re not very social and that you’re a loner; is that something that you think is just in your personality or do you think that is related to being blind?
[00:10:45] CALLER: I would have to say probably because of my disability at the root of it, because the way that you’re raised affects the way you act as an adult very heavily, as you know, so when you’re born and your first memories are of kind of differences between you and others and things are just kind of a little bit more difficult from the get go. And then going through school and I went to public school all my life. So, you know, I was never really around other blind kids and I was pretty ostracized most of my childhood and pretty isolated, so that definitely had something to do with it. I mean, if I come from a really social family, I come from a very loud family, so I do imagine that if I had not been blind, I would have probably been, then it would have been easier for me to integrate myself to the world and to socialize and mingle with people, but that is that was always really difficult for me.
[00:11:56] CHRIS: Right. Right. Because I would imagine, especially as a kid, like you said, I’ve never thought of this, but when you when you’re in a public school I would imagine there must be so many situations where when you enter them. It’s almost being explained to the other kids how to react in a way that you enter a lot. I would imagine as a kid you must feel like you’re often entering a situation being viewed as an anomaly in a way that can’t be the coolest for a kid.
[00:12:27] CALLER: Yeah, definitely. I from my earliest memories, I used to I used to say I feel like I’m an animal in a zoo. Like I feel like I’m some kind of exotic breed of tiger or something or some, some animal that’s going extinct. And people are looking and asking questions. And there’s like a pamphlet full of information that people, but they’re very hesitant to interact with me, especially children. Like, as I’ve gotten older and social skills have been enforced for everyone around me, you know, it’s gotten a lot easier like because just in general, adults are just they’re just more polite. But, but kids are, you know, they don’t know what to do with that yet. And so most kids, their parents, if they do see a blind person or a disabled person, they just say “they don’t stare, don’t look. Don’t be rude”, but that also creates kind of an atmosphere of mystique around the person.
[00:13:32] CHRIS: Right. Right. An isolation I would imagine.
[00:13:37] CALLER: For sure. It’s always felt kind of like I’m on the other side of a One-Way glass –
[00:13:44] CALLER: But I can’t see you and I can’t see how you’re reacting to me. I can only guess. But everybody else is looking at me and making their own judgments about me.
[00:13:53] CHRIS: That’s a, that’s the type of thing as someone who doesn’t deal with it, that’s the type of thing that I have to say it’s like you can logically assume how hard that must be, but even just hearing you explain it without all that much emotion, it’s feels you can feel how brutal that is, especially for a kid. Kids – here’s two things I remember about being a kid is one, you know you do whatever you can to not be viewed as different and two, things that seem different and especially things that we don’t understand how or why they, happen feel scary and to be reacted to as different and to be reacted to as a source of people going, wait, why does that happen? It sounds so hard to just sense that and feel that all the time. I’m really I’m really sorry that you had to deal with that.
[00:14:57] CALLER: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, it was harder when I was younger, obviously.
[00:15:02] CHRIS: Yeah
[00:15:03] CALLER: I went through a period I think a lot of disabled people go through this, at least I know a lot of blind people go through this, where and it usually corresponds with puberty when you’re starting to develop and you’ve these things like social, like being accepted into social groups and stuff become more important. And when I was in middle school, I just had this epiphany that was like, oh, I am really different from other people and they don’t necessarily accept that. And I had just a couple of years of just real pure rage and, you know, not wanting. And I got bullied out of my first middle school. I actually switched middle schools because it was too much, like somebody, I was talking to my mom about this last night because we were remembering this and now I laugh at it because it doesn’t hit me as hard now, but back then, like a kid actually got off the bus and a kid grabbed my cane and it was a hollow cane, hollow rigid cane, and he just snapped in half against the tree.
[00:16:19] CHRIS: Come on. Come on.
[00:06:20] CALLER: Yeah and I was in I was in you know, this was I was just starting the school day. I was in seventh grade and I had no way of getting around without it. I mean, like my friend or I don’t remember if it was my friend or my sister, somebody led me to the principal’s office so that I could tell them that this happened and they tried to identify who it was, but they never found out who it was because, of course, you know, I can’t see them. So that’s the shittiest part of all, is that they did this to me and I can’t see them. So it was like I put my foot down after that. I was like, no, I’m not coming back to this school. You know, I’ll go somewhere else so I can have a clean slate, but these kids don’t like me. You know, they want to pick on me.
[00:17:07] CHRIS: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:17:09] CALLER: So, but like I said, like and like you said, that that’s really hard as a kid. That now that I’m an adult and I’m looking at it from an adult’s perspective, you know, it’s one of those things that it’s a cliche, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s completely true because I just don’t react. You know, I don’t react to things with a lot of emotion and hot headedness like I used to, I don’t say, you know, I’m blind and my life sucks and everything sucks and, you know, I wish I could die. I had those, you know, obviously those times, but I’ve just gotten to a point now where it’s a lot easier to see the value in my experiences in my life.
[00:18:00] CHRIS: Yeah. Yeah. That’s good to hear that you can grow and control those emotions and can I ask how, wait, you said you’re only 23?
[00:18:13] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:18:15} CHRIS: Wow, I I have to say I’m a little shocked just in the sense that I got the sense, I’ve always had the sense that maybe public schools are a little more on top of their shit than they were when I was in school. But the idea that someone would take your cane and smash it to bits and they would just go, oh, yeah, sorry. No, we don’t know who it was and not like someone would have had to have seen that like that. That sounds like very 80s behavior to me. That sounds like I grew up 80s, early 90s. That sounds like very 80s, early 90s. I go, sorry, it’s gotta go deal with it. That was with my my I was filled with a ton of rage as a kid because I tell you, I’ve talked about this publicly and my brother has talked about publicly ,too. My brother got bullied pretty bad and they didn’t, nobody ever did anything about it in the 80s. They’re just like, yeah, sorry. We don’t know what happened. We’ll try to figure it out. In the meantime, yeah, you kids got to toughen up. So, you know, he doesn’t have to toughen up. And I was two and a half, three grades below my brother. I saw that. I was like, oh, I guess I’m just gonna be filled with anger and violence because nobody’s watching my back. And man, I’ll tell you something, I’ll tell you something. Here’s one of the great lessons I’ve learned as I grow up and it pisses me off to this day. Is that when we are young, there are a lot of adults in our lives and we assume that they’re protecting us. And then you get older and you realize they’re not. And is there anything that’s going to make a seventh grade kid get more pissed off than realizing, oh, you don’t have my back. I’m on my own. What what is going to piss off a kid more than to realize now you just you just want to get your day over with and go home and watch Netflix just like every other like every other schmo. You’re not really looking out for me. I get it.
[00:20:10] CALLER: Yeah, I totally feel that that’s that’s pretty much how I felt at that point, because I know that it’s really blurry now. But I know that my whoever was with me, I think it was my sister and some other kids, we’re trying to describe the person. And I was sitting in the Principal’s office and they’re like, oh, well, I guess you can go home today, and then I never came back until, you know, they wanted to have this big meeting to try to get me to go back. And it’s ironic because the principal actually said, you know, to in effect, she said, toughen up. Like she said, you know, thicken your skin, whatever, that kind of shit started happening like, you know, after after I started explaining it. And when I was in that meeting, I just, you know, I was crying, but it was like raged here. And I went, I’m not going back. I’m sorry. I’m not doing that. Don’t make me do it because I’m not doing it. And I was crying like, tears just streaming down my face. And at that point, they gave up. They’re like, OK, well, you know, we’ll send your work because it was like April.
So it’s almost the end of school year. We’ll just send your homework home with you and you can stay home and switch schools from that point, because even my mom was like, yeah, that’s bullshit. That’s that’s fucking bullshit.
[00:21:23] CHRIS: Yeah, that’s got me steamed thinking about it now. And it was many years ago for you – oh, that gets me. First of all, Oh, I got to toughen up? How about this? I’ve spent my whole life toughening up. My life’s been pretty tough compared to other people all around. I know how to toughen up. How about this? Instead of telling me to toughen up and then send me home when I’m emotional? Here’s what I would do. Here’s what I would think. If you’re a school administrator, if you’re a principal and a kid who has a disability, a kid who’s blind, has his cane taken and destroyed. How about this? Literally one by one, bring in every kid in that school and no one goes home until someone admits to what happened or someone says, I saw what happen. How about that? How about you start dragging literally every person in there? Because that’s the height of cruelty. And it should be it should be immediately made clear that that will be snuffed out of this experience.
[00:22:17] CALLER: Yep, I agree it’s it’s difficult to think about it now because like how how are those kids being raised? Like what values are being instilled in them? And this was a school that was pretty rough. You know, it was in what you would call colloquially a ghetto area – it’s like, that’s where I grew up. Like, you know, I didn’t until I moved in with my dad, when my actually my biological father and my mom, we’re not together for like the first part of my life. They got back together when I was like, twelve.
[00:22:55] CHRIS: Oh, wow.
[00:22:56] CALLER: That’s when I moved in with him. And he was a little bit more upper class. And, you know, we we moved to very I wouldn’t say wealthy, but much, much more well-off area. And I had a much better experience at those schools. I just did. And you know, that gets into a really big conversation about the public education system and all that stuff.
[00:23:21] CHRIS: But yeah,
[00:23:33] CALLER: I mean, you know, it just makes me sad.
[00:23:23] CHRIS: Now we’re pointing out all the, you know, the classism of America that is under the surface where the kids who need the most stable school or the ones that have the least funding. And I would you’d have to think that whoever would take your cane and break it is probably someone who comes from a broken home in their own right and has all these rage issues. And it’s on some level clearly a cry for helpl, looking back on, I guess what, when you’re in seventh grade, none of that bullshit matters. Go find who did it and suspend them.
[00:23:55] CALLER: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And now I’m like, you know, and when I was talking to my mom about it, I was like, man, I just, no wonder I was kind of a – like, I don’t want to say a shitty kid. I was gonna say shitty kid, but, you know, no wonder I was like a handful. I was kind of a renegade because. I just felt like, like you said and I never put it that way before, but like you said, it was like the adults aren’t really paying attention. They’re not really looking out for me. So, I can do whatever the fuck I want. And literally that’s how I live my life since I was young as I can remember, that’s just how I lived my life. And it was probably in large part due because I was growing up in a little bit of a poorer household and my parents were working all the time and they lived in a really bad part of town. And I got bullied a lot and all of that stuff kind of culminated to make type of person, you know. And then that brings us all the way back to why am I isolated now?
[00:25:02] CALLER: You know, it makes sense kind of just the way that the atmosphere I was raised in and the ideas I was raised with like, oh, I got to take care of myself and I’m blind. So I got to really be crafty about how I’m going to do this. And that was just part of the struggle.
[00:25:23] You know what? I’m going to go ahead and pause right there because any time, any time bullying gets brought up in my life, I get a little worked up, so, I need to just take a deep breath and if we’re going to take a deep breath anyway might as well go ahead and say it’s time for the ads, right? We got advertisers, they bring the show to you – I’m really appreciative of them. Use the promo codes if your’e interested, it helps the show when you do. We’ll be right back after this.
[00:25:32] AD BREAK
[00:28:27] CALLER: I got to take care of myself and I’m blind. I got to really be crafty about how I’m going to do that. And that was just part of the struggle.
[00:28:36] CHRIS: Yeah, I would imagine. I mean, it sounds like you were in a school environment that would have caused a lot of stress on your system and a lot of anger issues if you didn’t have a setback most people aren’t dealing with, let alone the fact that in an environment, especially an intense school environment, people immediately go, well, who can’t fight back and puts a target on you? That sucks. Sorry you had to deal with that.
I’ve got some other questions. I want to jump around a bit and just ask you a few questions. I’ve been thinking, is that OK?
[00:29:09] CALLER: Sure, sure.
[00:29:10] CHRIS: One: Do you know what caused your blindness?
[00:29:15] CALLER: Yeah. So I’ve got a. Well, yeah, I’m a little bit wonky, I guess. But my last checkup says I have RP, which is stands for retinitis pigmentosa. And it’s a disease where it’s a disease of the retina, obviously, where your vision kind of goes out from peripheral. And kind of eats up as it deteriorates, it eats up the vision toward the center. And until you’re blind. So, now I say that I’m weird, though, because I also have a congenital condition. They say that it looks like I have a congenital condition called Lieber’s, which is a whole different condition. And my macula is extremely deteriorated. So my my RP is not progressing the way that it normally does. And obviously I’m not a doctor, so I could be getting some of this wrong, but my vision is basically it’s a disease of the retina. And the retina is something that cannot be replaced. They don’t do retina transplants because as soon as the retina leaves the blood supply, it dies. So there’s no you know, there’s there’s no cure for it. Basically, it’s just a progressive, deteriorating eye disease that they’re still researching quite a bit.
[00:30:49] CHRIS: Wow. OK. Now, another question, if I may.
[00:30:54] CALLER: Yes
[00:30:55] CHRIS: You mentioned your wife, said she’s at school right now. I think a question that might be on a lot of listeners minds, is she blind as well?
[00:31:07] CALLER: No, no, she sighted. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life. She’s my best friend in the world. She’s been everything for me since we moved out together when we were both 18 and we’d been together ever since we got married when we were 20. And everybody say, wow, that’s young and I was really young. I didn’t expect to marry when I was 20. And you know what? I don’t regret it ever. Like, I could just talk all day about my wife, honestly. But no, she’s not blind.
[00:31:51] CHRIS: That’s so cool. Now. Got married at 20. That’s young. That’s young by the modern standard in this country. So I guess I’m going to put something out here. And again, this is one of those episodes where I will say I am aware that I’ll probably say some insensitive things and I’m sorry about it. And there’s gonna be times, I’m sure, where you correct me and I appreciate that there’s gonna be times where I think you probably have no ill intention than people on the Internet will correct me. I was going to say, anything I say that I put my foot in my mouth, let me know, I apologize ahead of time. Here’s the thing, though. When when you meet someone when you’re 18 and you get married when you’re 20.That is young in the modern – I mean, that’s – you’re not even out of college yet. Most people aren’t getting married until at least after college. Now, in a relationship like that, there is a phrase in culture that a lot of people would say to justify that, which is, well, I just knew it was love at first sight. And I say that not to be insensitive, but to say sounds like this happened pretty quickly. You were head over heels for her. You knew you wanted to marry her. So I’m very fascinated to ask. Many people, the first thing that attracts them to someone is the visual. What are the…You don’t have that option love at first sight. So what is the love at first blank? What made you fall for her so hard?
[00:33:24] CALLER: Yeah, that’s a really good question, because you’re right that if you’re blind, obviously you’re not really superficial regarding, look, some blind people could be superficial in other ways. Like I’ve heard of blind people who won’t date people that have a certain sound to their voice, you know, but. And there is such a thing as an attractive voice. I actually think my wife has a very attractive voice and I’ve always thought that. But we actually met online. We met on dating website. She was originally attracted to my dating profile because I had like two pictures on it that were kind of old and grainy because my sister took two pictures of me and I was like, fuck it. That’s it. I don’t care. So I didn’t get a lot of messages and I just kind of gave up on it. After a while, she was really attracted to the text of my profile.
[00:34:24] CHRIS: Wow.
[00:34:27] CALLER: She said I was funny. She said I was articulate and obviously care because I let a lot of detail into it. I obviously put a lot of effort into it. So she sent me the first message. It started with I shit you not, I literally screamed when I read your profile. And when I saw that and I saw it by chance because I gave up on the damn website, I was like, I don’t care. I’m not getting anything. And nobody wants to actually have a meaningful conversation. So I’m done. But I happened to see that email where somebody sent me a message and I was like, alright, fuck it. And I read it and I responded and I looked at her profile and I said, she’s basically perfect. I don’t know. Like she, I read all of her stats. Perfect. I read her text of a hilarious, you know, obviously has shit to say.And we just had these long conversations –
[00:35:27] CHRIS: Amazing
[00:35:28] CALLER: …with messages that we were just composing for two hours at a time. Both of us.
[00:35:34] CHRIS: I have to ask what dating site this was. I have to ask.
[00:35:39] CALLER: It was OK Cupid.
[00:35:40] CHRIS: Wow, what a rousing endorsement for OK Cupid. You had just about given up.
[00:35:44] CALLER: Actually, yeah.
[00:35:47] CHRIS: Amazing. Amazing. I get them as sponsors on this episode. I’ll see if I can pull it off. That is an amazing story. Now, okay. Couple basic question with this, because it’s a beautiful love story. It’s a beautiful love story. First question, I have two logistical questions. The first question in your profile: do you make it clear that you are blind?
[00:36:07} CALLER: Yes
[00:36:08] CHRIS: you do…
[00:36:08] CALLER: I said it, she argues I did not, but I guarantee you that I did. I remember very clearly saying, you know, I don’t care if people don’t know that I’m blind upfront then I’m going to have to tell them later. And then I just rather weed out the people who are not interested. Now, if I remember that very clearly that I did. But, she’s also told me that it became clear to her pretty quickly that I was blind because in our messages at least so because I said it over and over again. So she said, I just didn’t think about it. She’s like, oh, that’s that’s something about him. Okay. Cool, It was just like not a thing.
[00:36:55] CHRIS: Yeah, that’s cool. She’s cool. Now, another logistical question. Another logistical question. My guess and pardon my ignorance is, is there some sort of like text to voice converter that you work with when you’re on a computer?
[00:37:12] CALLER: Yeah. So I have a screen reading software that’s what it’s called. So it helps me manipulate the computer using the arrow keys pretty much entirely. So you keep the man and the arrow keys and stuff and it reads everything on the screen as I need it.
[00:37:33] CHRIS: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And can I ask. And I don’t mean to laugh, but there’s something adorable going in my mind. Has technology advanced to the point with the voices they like it? Is it an Alexa type voice or is it like your old school more robotic sounding voice?
[00:37:52] CALLER: I actually it’s funny because there are options for really high quality voices and I still use the, I actually chose deliberately chose to download an extension to my screen reader that would allow me to use the old school like, you know, it’s kind of I think it’s the voice that Stephen Hawking the machine used, actually.
[00:38:20] CHRIS: Come on! You did that on purpose?
[00:38:22] CALLER: I did, yeah. I like that because that’s that’s the screen reader I grew up with. That’s the old school shit-
[00:38:28] CALLER: It made me feel at home.
[00:38:29] CHRIS: Right. Right. Right. So there’s a comfort level of familiarity. So and I hope this isn’t insensitive, but I got to do it. So you’re getting these romantic messages and you’re like you’re developing this crush on this person, like you said, pouring hours of time into reading these long messages from her. And if I may, so the rest of the messages are coming through like “I screamed when I read your profile. I was blown away by it. I can’t believe I met someone willing to put so much effort, thought and care into an OK Cupid profile. I’ve honestly never been so blown away by the dedication”. So you’re hearing all these like that really is what happened?
[00:39:05] CALLER: Yes. You’re doing a perfect imitation.
[00:39:10] CHRIS: And you’re developing this crush – you’re experiencing these messages, consuming these messages like man, I think, I think I got a thing for this girl. And then as it’s going along and say, I would imagine the messages start to get a little more like detail, a little more personal, right? And it starts to be “I have to say, I did not expect much from OkCupid, but I really feel like we are building a bomb that I never could have anticipated. We need to meet in person” and you’re sitting there and you’re like all right, all right all right.
[00:39:38] CALLER: Yeah. I mean, yeah, it’s weird to think about, but the words just kind of go into my brain and it’s like I don’t hear the voice after a while. If there really is a lot like reading.
[00:39:49] CHRIS: Of course. And it’s an easy joke for me to make. And thank you for having a sense of humor about it, because at the end of the day –
[00:39:58} CALLER: it’s hysterical. man.
[00:39:58] CHRIS: And at the end of the day, I want to be clear. I want to be very clear, cause I’m a big empathetic softy myself. We can laugh all we want. It’s also super romantic. And I think it’s so cool. All the jokes aside, it’s like, what a cool thing. What a cool thing. Like you said, that’s the world you’re familiar with. That’s like reading to you and you didn’t blink twice. Okay. So then you decide to meet in person.
[00:40:24] CALLER: Yeah. It was our first date was May 27, 2014. And that was maybe three weeks after we met online. So, I just graduated high school
[00:40:42] CHRIS: Wow
[00:40:43] CALLER: and she had she actually just graduated high school as well. She actually went through a program through a college. So it was technically graduating with college credit, but she graduated same time and we went out to let’s see… Yeah. OK, so she was working in the mountains at this point. She went up to the mountains and was working and was living in a fifth wheel you know they they provided for her at the workplace. And she was just basically working at this little family run store up there at the campground. And she came down two hours I think she drove to my house and we I walked her over to a coffee shop a couple blocks from my house. We got some coffee. We sat down and talked for hours and I walked her back home. And then we spent – she met my parents like then. So, she met my parents on the first date and spent the rest of the day just chilling out, like talking and absorbing each other’s company. It’s weird because ever since the first day that we were together in person, it was like we didn’t want to be out of each other’s presence. And that has never stopped. Like for some people, like the flame dies or whatever. That just hasn’t happened.
[00:42:09] CHRIS: That’s amazing. Yeah, it’s amazing, so you you had already developed this immense respect and this open, honest feeling towards each other through the messages you’d been sharing. And then when you met in person, that just clicked right into place and proved to be true.
[00:42:27] CALLER: Yes. It was just pretty much seamless.
[00:42:30] CHRIS: Were there things about her in person that you remember from that first, second meeting, whatever, that you were like, oh, man, this is even better than I thought it was gonna be?
[00:42:42] CALLER: Yeah, I hadn’t heard her voice at that point to again, she was living up in the mountains. She didn’t have like any cell service whatsoever. So we literally just use iMessage and just text. And so when I heard her voice, it was genuinely the same kind of thing as I imagine a sighted person looking at a really attractive person and say, Oh, I like you. I like how that looks. that’s kind of how it was.
[00:43:15} CHRIS: Yeah, yeah, that’s cool. And I got to say – What a beautiful story, too, in the sense that you’ve already made it clear you grew up someone who your guard had to be up. You had to you had to have some self protective instincts. It sounds like you took a big you took a big chance on this one. You had an instinct and you followed it. But that’s based on everything you’ve told me about who you were, and he still kind of are, you’re not someone who takes a big chance on opening up like that too often.
[00:43:43] CALLER: No, no, not really. I never actually thought about it like that, actually. It’s interesting because it’s true. I mean, it’s even true today. I don’t get close to a lot of people. I don’t have a lot of friends. My family and I, most of my family, are estranged for reasons we can get into. That’s some that’s some drama –
[00:44:08] CHRIS: But I’ll write it down. We’ll write it down. I’ll bring that back up later. Trust me on that. I know how to do my job.
[00:44:15] CALLER: Yeah, that’s an interesting one. But, you know. Yeah, that’s that’s interesting, man, because it’s true. Something about her and the way she talks to me is just like, oh, she’s treating me like a person. And that’s just not that common. You know, and it’s I don’t mean to say that to be like, oh, woe is me. People don’t think I’m a person because I don’t think that that’s actually the case. I just think that a lot of people are more careful when they’re interacting with me, especially in person. Like, you know, they just they just don’t know really how to go about it. They don’t want to offend me. But, you know, they’re afraid that I’m gonna hurt myself. And and there’s just a lot of stuff that goes into it. So she just didn’t do that from day one. She just talked to me like she was just interested in me and she’s asking me questions about me. And, you know, she was saying things like, wow, I when I got your message, I couldn’t even stand it. I had to, like, just throw myself on the bed and scream into a pillow because I was so excited.
[00:45:25] CHRIS: Can we all just pause and recognize? Who doesn’t love a Good God damn love story, I know I do. Hey, I stopped anyway to call that out. So I think what we got to do in this momentum broken moment is ads. We got advertisers. Check them out. Use the promo codes. Helps the show. Be right back and we will finish off this phone call strong.
[00:46:49] CHRIS: Thanks again to all our advertisers. Let’s get back to the phone call.
[00:46:55] CALLER: I couldn’t even stand it. I had to just throw myself on the bed and scream into a pillow because I was so excited. I was like, nobody’s ever reacted to me like that. That’s just, you know, they always have some reservation about it and it just really opened me up. I think she had just the right, you know, the right traits and the right words to really just unlock my safety latch.
[00:47:22] CHRIS: Yeah, that’s cool. Now I’m going to ask one that might be, it might be tough, I don’t know. Might not be. And I feel like we’re clicking pretty hard, you and I, so I’ll just ask it.
[00:47:38] CALLER: Yeah
[00:47:38] CHRIS: Now, we mentioned that for a lot of people visuals play into attraction a lot. You’ve explained the things you were attracted to. Is she someone who cares about that side of things? And if so, I’m wondering how would I phrase this? Like do you have an experience in the early days with her as things become romantic where she’s expressing to you what she’s attracted about visually in your case, if that makes sense.
[00:48:14] CALLER: Yes. Still does. Every day she tells me that I’m the most handsome man she’s ever seen and I believer her because she does. She says over and over again, like, I think about the possibility of dating someone else. And everyone I can think of just they lack something that you have. And whether it’s personality or whether it looks because she is very physically attracted to me. Yeah, she just says like I’m her exact type and cuz, you know, she for example, she likes men with dark hair and dark eyes. So that’s a really general kind of, you know “Oh, yeah. I find myself attracted to men with dark hair and dark eyes”. And I have dark hair and dark eyes. So that’s one of the things that, you know. It just it’s a click. But then there are other things that she says she didn’t even know she wanted. Like, I’m extremely short and that’s not usually a thing that women are attracted to in men. So, but she’s like, I love it. I just I didn’t even know. But now that I’m with you, I actually just really like short men.You know, that kind of thing.
[00:49:34] CHRIS: I’m gonna tell you something, when you said she tells you every day that you’re the most handsome man she’s ever seen, and then you said, and I believe it? I got choked up. Because that sounds like real love. I got choked up.
[00:49:51] CALLER: Yeah. You know what, I actually read your book a couple weeks ago, Lose Well –
[00:49:56] CHRIS: Ah, thanks.
[00:49:58] CALLER: And I read and I loved it, it was great. But I read about, you know, you mentioned your wife and and how she she really doesn’t take well to people “messing with you”. She actually dreams about, you know, hurting people who want to hurt you. That kind of thing. And that really reminded me of my wife. That’s the kind of stuff she has.
[00:50:22]CHRIS: I mentioned in the book and I feel bad that it relates to eyes because I mean, you know what? Like you said, I’m not going to be fucking awkward. I’ll just tell a story like I’m not going to dance around.
[00:50:33] CALLER: No, you’re good.
[00:50:34] CHRIS: Like you can, you know, from the book, she said two different dreams where someone has been mean to me and she has attacked their eyes once with a fork, once with her thumbs, because in the second dream she looked around to find the fork that she had previously used, and I couldn’t find it. She just used her thumbs…
[00:50:53] CALLER: That’s great.
[00:51:00] CHRIS: Oh, my God. I’ve never been more in love. It’s awesome.
[00:51:03] CALLER: That’s great
[00:51:04] CHRIS: Now. Okay. I’ve been taking notes. Next question. Seems like software engineers, one of the hardest jobs you could pick.
[00:51:10] CALLER: You’d think, right?
[00:51:12] CALLER: Well, this is a little bit of a story. It’s kind of cool because I think it’s, you know, it’s something where, OK, so when I grew up, I was an artsy kid. I wrote fiction and I was the best writer in my class. And I also played the violin and I played it very well. So, I was very artsy kid. I never had anything to do with sports. I was terrified of math. Terrified of science. And especially for a blind kid. Because you can imagine that, like, math can get difficult. You have to write it, or at least I did at the time, had to type it all out in Braille on a big old clunky Braille writing machine. And I had to read it in Braille, which meant that all of my books were super, super big. They were like multiple volumes, just big braille that I had to haul around. So math and science just suck. Whereas I started on the computer really young in sixth grade and I could just write using the computer and that was very easy. I just used Microsoft Word and it was all very easy for me with, you know, the screen reading software. So that was my thing. And when I got out of high school, I went in to college for an English degree. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but I said, I like to write and I like to read. So we’ll figure it out. And then I switched to a psychology degree because they said, oh, I like I like psychoanalyzing people. So I like, you know, kind of the logic of psychology. Then I switched to political science degree, which was my one of my great loves to this day is politics. And I didn’t know what I was going to do that either. But I said I just like politics. I’m going to take a couple of classes and argue with people. And then quit school because I was like, I don’t know what I’m getting into debt for. And I don’t know what I’m going to do. I was just fucking around one day by trying to build a blog for myself. And I was like, I need to get my writing out there if I want to be a writer by trade. And I was thinking I was gonna be a political writer, just getting on word press. And it’s not inaccessible, it’s not like it’s really hard to use. But it is a little bit difficult to use with my screen reading software. So I was just going along and off the table, maybe I should build a blog like build a site for myself because then I can make it as accessible as I want. Then it would work with my screen reading software perfectly. So I went in and I just started learning html and building little prototypes for my blog as I was doing that I was like,this is more fun than writing. This is it clicked in me. I was like, wait, this is a career, actually – it’s actually a pretty good career. Maybe I can do this. And I switched to a complete techie, a complete geek who’s, you know, I started taking math classes and I started taking computer science classes. And it’s really not, it’s kind of the perfect job for a blind person. And I’ll tell you why. Because technology and my computers, the Internet that has connected so many people. And it’s opened opportunities for so many people around the world. Like it’s gotten to the point where like people in, you know, poorer countries can actually take online courses and stuff like that and learn things and get themselves out of this situation and do things with their lives. And it’s the same thing with blind people, because once screen reading technology became available, then we started developing our own stuff, writing our own code that would work with a screen reader and that kind of stuff, it just keeps going. Like right now, I’d say the state of the web and the state of software is good, but it could use a lot of improvement, which is what I want to do in my career. But, more code needs to be written with disabled people in mind and that is something that blind people are distinctly good at. That’s that’s a job that a blind person can easily do. It’s just like typing on a word processor, you know, typing a story. It’s just it’s logic based and it’s more map based. So, it’s actually quite a great career for a blind person. And I didn’t know this because I told myself all those years that I’m just bad at math, that I’m shitty at math, I’m not a math person. And that’s something that a lot of people tell themselves. And now that I’m doing it in my computer science degree requires a math minor. So I have to take a lot of math. And not my favorite thing in the world, but I’m pretty good at it. And I just realized, like, you’re only not a math person if you never do math. And, it’s not a thing where I want to say, like, everybody must do math or everybody must get into tech. But this story, the moral of the story that I’ve learned is that if you want to do something, then try to do it and do the research to see if you can do it, because you might be able to do it, you might love it. Like, I could not imagine myself getting into tech ten years ago. Hell, no.
[00:57:08] CHRIS: Yeah, but you also sound like some – I mean, between like as a kid, it’s like, oh, right, I’m going to become the best writer, even though I’m the person who can’t read in a traditional manner. Oh, sheet music? Not my thing, but I’m gonna become the best violin player in this class. It sounds like you are someone who’s also like if there’s a thing that you would assume I can’t do, I’m gonna go and I’m gonna do it. That’s cool.
[00:57:32] CALLER: Yep.
[00:57:34] CHRIS: It’s funny, too, because right after I asked the question, I realized too, I I’m. There’s a story. I wonder if you know about this. I’m really, really obsessed and I have been for years. There was, sort of before the Internet, the forerunners to computer hackers was this group of people known as the phone freaks. Back when the phone system was analog, there were a lot of people who realized that they could figure out sort of like codes and tones. If you whistled certain tones into the old phone system, you could kind of be the phone system would think that you were an operator and engineer and you could then manipulate it. And it’s really tricky stuff. So worth reading about it. And a lot of the people who built the whole system of what eventually became computer hacking and computer hacking became engineering were notoriously a group of blind teenagers because,
[00:58:23 CALLER: yeah
[00:58:24] CHRIS: the phone was an audio medium and there was no impediment to not being cited. And they became obsessed with it and kind of helped build the whole infrastructure of how people think of computer programming.
[00:58:41] CALLER: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a really cool story. And it’s, you know, it’s very similar now because computers are kind of the same now except better like better than phones, obviously. But you know, if you can make a computer, read the screen to you, then you are automatically not at a disadvantage –
[00:59:02] CHRIS: Right
[00:59:03] CALLER: you’re with everybody else. It only when the software in question doesn’t work with your screen reader that you’re at a disadvantage.
[00:58:10] CHRIS: Right
[00:58:10] CALLER: So it’s one of those things where it’s the same kind of kind of deal where a bunch of blind people and there are a lot of blind programmers surprisingly. These bunch of blind people are slowly making this a tool that we can be on equal playing field because because we can’t read print –
[00:59:32] CHRIS: Right, well, that’s what I was thinking –
[00:59:34] CALLER: it’s never going to be something we can compete in.
[00:59:35] CHRIS: It’s the stereotype of software engineering is somebody like staying up all night, just pouring over screens and screens full of code, looking for that one little digit that’s off or that thing that’s been punched in incorrectly. But I would imagine listening to that probably opens up a whole avenue of experiencing it and looking for the ways to solve problems that the people sitting there reading it aren’t developing the muscles in that way either, so it’s kind of one or the other.
[01:00:06] CALLER: And it’s interesting because this is going to be a little bit trippy, but I’m actually, I consider myself a visual learner in my own way.
[01:00:14] CHRIS: Of course you do.
[01:00:16] CALLER:I knew that would fuck you up.
[01:00:17} CHRIS: Of course you do.
[01:00:19] CALLER: Yeah and I’ll explain this. This is counterintuitive, but when I’m coding and writing a program, I’m actually very much mapping it in my mind. And I’m seeing it in my mind so this structure is here and then this structure’s within this structure and then these are the variables over here. And this is what this is and this is what this and it has to look aesthetic, like I make my code look clean. It has a lot of blank space like blank lines so that it’s very visually obvious where one section ends and where one section begins. I put like lines of asterisks to make it very clear and I put very big comments. So, I’m writing this code for a sighted programmer because most of them are going to be sighted and I’m looking at these structures that way. So, I’m picturing them in my mind, mapping them out in my mind. And that’s how you do math, too, picture the numbers, and I picture and they’re all color coded in my mind. Everything’s color coded. Everything. You know, it’s very it’s a very visual experience on my part. If you opened up my brain, you’d probably have a lot of activity going on in the visual cortex.
[01:01:36] CHRIS: Wow, so you would have just been one of the phone freaks if you were born in the 70’s –
[01:01:40] CALLER: That’s guaranteed
[01:01:41] CHRIS: Guaranteed you would have been one of those people, “no, so the thing is, I can visualize the entire worldwide global phone system in my head and therefore have all these events.” OK. I want to ask you another question. This is a weird, simple question, but it’s been on my mind because I’m big nerd. Everybody listens to this show, knows it. So when I was a kid I saw a lot of bullying. I sit there, I’m looking at Spider-Man comics, I’m going Peter Parker gets bullied worse than anybody I know and he’s Spiderman. I’m a kid who feels like a little bit of an outcast. And then I look at the X-Men. I’m like, these kids were born different. Wolverine just needs to get his anger under control and directed towards good. That’s me. I’m the angry kid. Nightcrawler’s blue and everybody’s like, but he doesn’t want to, like, dress up in a disguise. He wants to embrace what’s weird about him. I feel weird. So, I think you might see where I’m going with this, because I would have to imagine to someone who grew up in your exact situation. Daredevil inspiring cool thing or the most annoying thing in the world that makes people ask if you have superpowers and can hear better than other people. True or false? That happens.
[01:02:47] CALLER: That does happen. And it actually just happened like last semester on my campus. But my answer kind of disappointing because this is what I said to the person who asked me. I have never watched it and I’ve never seen it and never I don’t even know really what it is. Is that a comic book or is it just a movie? I don’t know.
[01:03:09] CHRIS: It started as a comic book that was okay. Stanley R.I.P back in the early Marvel days. And he’s a character who was sighted. And then he was blinded in an accident that involved some radioactive goo. And then he found out that the combination of his blindness and the powers this goo gave him sort of amplified all his other senses to a degree that he could, like, use, like, treat what they call it when bats can, like bounce sounds off of things and then sort of build visual
[01:03:42] CALLER: echo location
[01:03:44] CHRIS He could use echo location and his sense of touch was so strong that he could do like the martial arts and acrobatics. And then Frank Miller took over that title in the I believe in the early 80’s and wrote a whole bunch of it that’s like unquestionably some of the best comic book writing of all time. Now, it’s a Netflix series and I’d have to imagine it might get pretty irritating for people to bring that up to the blind community.
[01:04:12] CALLER: Yeah. Yeah. And then like, honestly, people have been asking variations of that question to me for all my life. So it was only it was only recently and like in second grade that I had Daredevil specifically, but everybody kinda or not everybody, a lot of people, maybe 70 percent of people asked me. So, “is like you hearing super good?” And like, you know, “is your hearing just like 10 times better?” And it’s not a stupid question necessarily. It’s just I’ll go ahead and answer it, because a lot of people have that question. And it’s first of I don’t know about all blind people, but for me, it makes sense because I’m paying more attention to my ears. So after a while doing that all your life, your ears are just more sensitive, like you can pick up things and and make meaning of them a lot more quickly and easily, like easily and effectively. I use my eyes early, use my ears the way people use their eye. I walk around and I’d like locate things with my ears.
[01:05:19] CHRIS: You are more in tune with what your ears are telling you and able to utilize the information they give you at a higher level than than I do.
[01:05:31] CALLER: Yeah, like more or less. Yeah. It’s actually it’s funny because I was thinking about this the other day, but to me, Braille is natural. To me, picturing letters and numbers in Braille is natural and doing it in print is counterintuitive to me. It seems weird that you guys can understand.
[01:05:53] CHRIS: Yeah – I love that! You guys…
[01:05:57] CALLER: like a different perspective there.
[01:05:58] CHRIS: Yeah. Now, OK. Follow up question about my nerdy comic book thing. Have you avoided Daredevil specifically because it’s something that people have brought up so many times? You’re like, I don’t want to deal with whatever this bullshit is. Is it that type of thing? Or is it just –
[01:06:14] CALLER: No, not because of Daredevil. It’s just that I don’t like that genre.
[01:06:18} CHRIS: That’s fair
[01:06:18] CALLER: I don’t, yeah, I just don’t like – I’ve never read comic books and I’ve never watched superhero movies and stuff like that.
[01:06:24] CHRIS: I get it. Now, look, we have 30 seconds left. I got to thank you. This has been a hands down, one of my favorite calls in the history of the show. And I could talk to you for two more hours. So many questions. You mentioned your family wouldn’t get to that. I’ve wanted to ask you if there’s like a strong community among among blind people, but –
[01:06:45] CALLER: There’s not really, but
[01:06:50] CHRIS: got the nice quick answer in on that one.
[01:06:51] CALLER: But, I really appreciate it, man. I love your show. Thanks for doing what you do. It’s awesome and glad I got to be part of it.
[01:06:59] CHRIS: So lucky to have you. And you really blew my mind. Made me think about a lot of things in different ways, and I thank you for it. I apologize for all the times I invariably put my foot in my mouth and said something I shouldn’t have. You were just –
[01:07:15] CALLER: I don’t think you did, man.
[01:07:15] CHRIS: Maybe
[01:07:16] CALLER: I don’t think you did. You didn’t offend me.
[01:07:17] CHRIS: At the very least, you were kind. And we are both in the spirit of let’s communicate and figure each other out. And anything that you were happy to take a breath and let pass, I’m sure the Internet will not. So I look forward to. But you’re the best.
[01:07:34] CALLER: Yeah, I bet
[01:07:35} CHRIS: What a cool call. What a cool call. Thank you so much.
[01:07:38] CALLER: Well. I’ll talk to you later, man.
[01:07:43] CHRIS: Caller, thanks again, like I said, I could talk to you for another, definitely another hour or two. So much to hear and I wish I rambled less so we could have gotten to more of it. I’m a rambly guy, what can I say? Thank you for calling. Thank you Jared O’Connell and Harry Nelson in the booth. Thank you to Justin Lindvall for helping out with my entire life. Thank you Shell Shag for the music. You’re the best. Hey, I’ve got road dates coming out. I’m going to be all over this country. Go to chrisgeth.com. Find out where I am, how you can buy tickets. You like Beautiful Anonymous? Go to Apple podcasts – rate, review, subscribe. Really helps when you do. Thanks so much. See you next time.
[01:08:30] [THEME MUSIC] Catch me, face to face.
[NEXT EPISODE PREVIEW]
[01:08:43] CHRIS: Next time on Beautiful Anonymous. When you’re involved in a tragedy, how do you move on?
[01:08:50] CALLER: It was one of those days where it kind of just get home and you’re just wondering, how am I still here? A guy hit me going 90 miles an hour on a two lane road from behind on his motorcycle. And did not make, it where I did.
[01:09:21] CHRIS: That’s next time on Beautiful Anonymous.