A blind man was asked by gym staff to leave after he was accused of staring at a woman who was working out there. Toby Addison began losing his sight at the age of 11 and, now 21, he has only about 4% of his vision remaining. However, that doesn’t stop him from experiencing some extremely awkward situations.
Appearing on the Happy Hour Podcast to talk about playing football as a blind athlete, Addison recalled visiting a new gym when he was 17. At one point, an angry woman came over and began yelling at him for allegedly staring at him.
While Addison tried to explain that he actually isn’t looking at anyone or anything since he’s blind, the woman didn’t believe him and instead accused him of being a gym creep before telling the staff about his alleged behavior.
“I don’t really know where I am looking a lot of the time unless I am talking to someone like I know that I’m talking to you so I am trying to look in your direction,” Addison said. “So I was just staring straight ahead and unfortunately there was a woman doing some exercises. I don’t know what she was doing, whether it was some squats or whatever, where you may be in a more vulnerable position maybe and don’t want to be stared at.”
He continued: “She came over to me, and I didn’t know she was talking to me at first because I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just doing my thing. She said something along the lines of ‘Why do you keep staring at me? Stop. Don’t be so creepy.’ I was like ‘Oh no sorry, I’m blind.’ I had my cane with me, it was folded up in my lap but she wasn’t having any of it.”
The mortifying experience made Toby Addison never return to the gym again, as it “knocked my confidence a lot and made me feel like being blind is a problem, that it causes problems.” Hopefully, he’s learned that’s not the case now!