Empty Fork Again

Jeff and his wife, Linda, sit with their arms around each other's shoulders, smiling at the camera. They are seated at a table with other tables and guests visible in the background.

By Jeff Hawkins, Leader Dog Client

Seriously, did it just happen again? How many times have I lifted a fork to my mouth… and it’s empty. Seems like a million, but it’s just one of the many challenges any blind person deals with while eating. Of course, the first thing I do is hope the food fell off on my plate, but yes, many times I find it in my lap. At this point in my journey I simply laugh it off.

Eating when you can’t see your plate can be a challenge, but there are some simple things a person can do to make it easier. Remember, we have many senses we use when eating other than sight: smell, taste and touch. And believe me, I am not above using a finger for a feel or taste. Over the years, my routine has settled into treating my plate like a clock. It works like this: once food is identified, do not move your plate. Now you know what’s on the plate and where it’s at. Put your drinks at 10 and 2 o’clock. Move slowly when reaching for any beverage and you will stay a lot dryer. When putting my drink back down I will make a wide peace sign and place the base of the glass down between my fore and middle finger. Now feel for your silverware, napkin and dig in.

Over time we all adapt to what hurdles are in front of us, but everyone makes mistakes. I was dining out with my wife, Linda, one night and we decide on splitting an ahi tuna salad. Starving, I dove right into the first bite without using any of my own advice. Suddenly, my sinuses were burning and forehead sweating. Linda quickly asked what was wrong as I sat there with wide watering eyes. In short time, I realized along with my first bite I scooped up the entire serving of the wasabi. To say we laughed till our bellies hurt is an understatement. Lesson learned. Take the time to identify the things on your plate and move slowly, and eating a meal blind is painless.

Want to meet Jeff and experience a dinner like no other? Join us on Friday, March 8 at the MGM Grand Detroit for Dinner in the Dark. Jeff will be guiding the blindfolded guests through dinner, and you can also enjoy a “blind” wine pull, super silent auction, selfies with Leader Dog canine ambassadors and more.

Jeff has been working with his Leader Dog, Gracie, since 2012.

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