Friday, June 10, 2011

Yes, I'm Frucking Color-blind

To be more specific, I'm red-green colorblind, but let me go back a little bit and tell you...

As a kid, I never noticed I had an issue with colors.  I can see red.  I can see green.  I can look at a rainbow and name the colors in order.  The only symptom was a chronic inability to play that fractal picture game where you cross your eyes to see the picture.  Oh, and the old style of 3D glasses....  they didn't seem to work.

That's right.  I'm 27 and the first time I saw a movie/show in 3D was the 2011 movie "Thor".

But let me fast-forward a little because I didn't know I was color-blind until I joined the Army.  I didn't connect fractal pictures and 3D glasses as symptoms of a disability.  So I showed up at the testing center.  I got a 98% on the ASVAB test.  My recruiter got excited, telling me how I'd have no problem getting the computer-oriented MOS (job) I wanted.

Then they tested me for color-blindness.  They put me in front of a machine and asked me to read LED lights from 20 feet away (red, white, and green).  I missed one on the first attempt, but aced the re-test.  Then they put me in front of a picture book.  This picture book looked like this:

 Yes, I can see the number 25 hidden in this picture, but I can only see a slight discoloration in the following:

I KNOW there's a number in there, but it blends into a monotone blanket of green and brown.   (The red turns brown when it's surrounded by green.) The outline of the numbers fade and  I can't isolate an individual shape.

I cried when I found out.  I cried because my computer MOS disappeared like smoke and I was given 2 options:  Garbageman or Patriot Missile Launcher Operation and Repair.  I went with the Patriot Missile MOS, but my hopes were crushed.  I wouldn't be the person monitoring it/dealing with the software for the red button.  I would be the person driving the actual missile to its destination, camping out next to it, and replacing busted circuitry within it.

NOT what I wanted.  They let me retest, but the result was the same.  I could name every color on my recruiter's medals in order, but I couldn't see a number in a circle of colored bubbles.

Onto the point of this post...

Here's the deal.  If you sit in a green room with a red blanket over your body, I'll be able to see you.  Thanks to Hey, Ash, my hubby makes those kinds of jokes.  But it's not funny.  It actually hurts a lot because no one would know about my disability if I hadn't mentioned it.  That's how little this 'handicap' affects my daily life.

So think twice before you start making wise-cracks about Christmas (har, har--like we haven't heard that one before) to someone who has the courage to admit they're red/green colorblind, because no one wants to be reminded that they're different and I doubt there's anyone out there with this issue who will honestly laugh at your joke.

You have no idea what they might have went through after figuring out they saw the world differently than the person next to them, so show some damn discretion.  Didn't your momma ever teach you, "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all."

P.S.  Thank you to Steven Whibley for inspiring this post.


Steven Whibley said...

Great post, Eli. When I was 19 I decided I wanted to join the army as a firefighter, I was surprised when they busted out the color blindness test. I knew I was going to fail it since it wasn't my first experience with such things. But when I did, I was told that it was considered a disability that precluded me from service. I couldn't believe it b/c I'd never considered it a "disability."

Eli Ashpence said...

I feel your pain. When I read your post on the subject, my hubby started teasing me after I had to ask him what numbers were in each circle. That's what led me to write my own post. For some reason, he couldn't seem to grasp that my color-blindness isn't fair game for teasing.

Let's just say he's read my post and has promised to be more considerate in the future. :D