As we get closer to Colorblind Awareness day (also known as St. Patrick’s Day), I wanted to share a variety of my colorblind experiences. I hope you find them funny.
First Bad Experience
One day in elementary school I was day dreaming out the window. All of a sudden I heard my name:
Teacher: “Brad, what color is that on the right page?”
Me: “Uh… what page are we on.”
Teacher (Disapprovingly): “We’re on page 96, please follow along.”
Me (Turning to the page): “Red.”
Teacher (Mad): “No what color is it really.”
Me: “Green?” (Now I knew if something wasn’t red it must be green)
Teacher (Furious): “Stop playing games! What color is it?”
Without red and green, I had no clue. I started spouting out colors:
Me: “Orange? Yellow? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.”
Teacher: “It is brown! It is brown!”
Brown, I thought, I would never have guessed brown!
(On a side note, never get between my mom and one of her kids… I don’t know what words she had with that teacher, but they must have been great. That was one of the best apologies I’ve received in my life.)
When I was a teenager, I still remember vividly the first time I realized that my manner of dress was quite possibly hurting other’s eyes. After dressing up for a nice event, and driving to the event with my dad, I got out of the car. He took one look at me and burst out laughing. After checking my zipper, if my shirt was tucked in, and whether I had toilet paper on my shoe I finally gave up and asked.
Dad: “You don’t see that?”
Me: “See what?”
Dad: “Your clothes look horrible, that is the worst matching I’ve ever seen.”
Still to this day I need material supervision whenever I get dressed. I only use about a quarter of my wardrobe. The other 3/4 is sectioned off, and I only venture into it if we’re going somewhere nice, but only if Sarah is available to help dress me. I will admit though, as with the picture to the left, I sometimes know it doesn’t match and ignore it completely. I figure, if I can’t get it completely right, I might as well make it as wrong as possible.
Now the one question everyone wants to know is: “How do you drive? I mean how can you tell the traffic lights apart.” Growing up, I always thought this was a silly question, Red is on top, yellow in the middle, and green on bottom. I never understood what was so confusing about that. They’d always bring up horizontal traffic lights, but honestly I had never seen one (I have since).
Truth be told, the green and the red on traffic lights don’t look at all similar to me. The green looks almost white to me, while the red is a rich red color. In fact the green is so close to white that for years I thought the white you-can-cross-the-crosswalk guy was green. I didn’t find out until I was talking with a friend and he had no clue what “little green crossing guy” I was talking about. In fact this was so surprising to me, that sometimes I still wonder if this is a giant hoax and one day you guys are all going to burst out screaming: “The little walking guy is green! He’s green! April Fools! He’s green!” Until then I’ll keep checking the RGB values on every image I see of him, just to make sure.
Now the red and the yellow on the other hand are fairly similar. Which doesn’t ever cause problems, unless it is a flashing single light. Even then my rules of safety are pretty easy…
1) Look what traffic is doing.
2) Ask the person next to me what the color is.
3) If in doubt, stop at all yellow flashing lights.
The third one almost never happens, you’d be surprised how easy it is to figure out the color way in advance, from signs, past experience, and a little help from friends. But be careful of your friends…
One time, while in the car with Tanner Guzy I came across an unknown single flashing light. I was pretty sure it was yellow, but I verified with Guzy.
Me: “That light is yellow, right?”
Guzy: “Oh yeah.”
<Proceed to drive through with another car nearing the intersection>
Guzy: “Wait! That’s red.”
<Terrified I throw on the breaks and screech to a halt>
<Heart pumping I looked at Guzy>
Guzy: “Dude, I am so sorry, I’m just kidding, it really is yellow.”
Friend’s for Good and Bad
A lot of my friends never knew I was colorblind. But those that did have always made life fun. Here are a few stories with friends:
The first time my friends took me to an indoor paintball arena it was really hard to tell the colors apart. The first person I saw was a friend. Terrified that he was on the other team I shot him 3 times in the chest, only to recognize Aaron Jardine’s face. “Dude! He yelled, same team, can’t you tell the colors apart!!” Actually no. (I still don’t understand why all indoor Laser Tag or Paintball arenas use Red and Green… Really?)
– Board Games:
Nate and I have been friends for as long as I remember. It was always his goal to beat me (or to help me win), and he wasn’t afraid to use any means necessary. While playing video games he would pick the colors that blended in with the background. While playing board games he would pick the color closest to mine so I would sometimes mistake his pieces for mine. And while playing paintball he would dress in camouflage. And you know what, it worked!
– Fake Poisoning
Oftentimes it surprises me how clueless people can be about colorblindness. But some people are much worse than others. I once convinced somebody that since green light didn’t hit my eyes I could effectively see through green. I convinced him I could see threw walls by painting them green. I’ve shared that story with a lot of people including my mission companions.
While serving in Toronto we received some nasty green toothpaste for Christmas. We deemed the toothpaste to be poisonous. One day my companion made me a plate of cookies covered in this poisonous green toothpaste. He was trying to poison me, because, naturally, I couldn’t see the poison.
Color of Work
Growing up we were given a variety of chores. One Saturday morning I had the task of picking up apples. After an exhausting morning of picking up all the apples I finally smiled to myself, I was done. My Dad came out to check my work and gave me a frustrated look: “You aren’t done, you have a long way to go.” After a pause, my confused expression, and another long look he realized: “You can’t see all those can you?” See what? He informed me I was only halfway done…
I worked wiring cables for a few Saturdays. The first time I cracked open I realized I had no clue which wires went where, the colors were awfully close. So I came up with a crackbrained plan. Find the color yellow, since I could find that one just fine, and work around the wires in clockwise order. It worked, every… single… time.
I’ve always loved art. Though, I gave up on creating it years ago due to colors. But, for Logan’s room we decided to paint a Mario Brothers scene over all the walls. We started sketching and that went great! We moved on to painting, my first stop: the green pipe. After painting most of the pipe, Sarah burst into laughter and couldn’t control herself long enough to tell me what was wrong. She turned to me and said: “You do realize Mario’s pipes aren’t brown, right?” Needless to say, I was banned from mixing colors.
Now you may wonder to yourself, “Life while colorblind is really hard!” But you know what, it has made for a lot of funny experiences, and it is something I actually look forward to talking about.
Check out my app: Colorblind Vision