In Foggy's own unbiased opinion, one of the best parts of himself is how willing he is to dive into everything head-first.
And sure, he might be cringing a bit at his own Google searches, and imagining someone, let alone Matt, seeing his search history makes the embarrassment almost physically painful. But he's already called his roommate a handsome duck, so how much worse can it get?
how to guide blind person
how to explain things to blind person
tips for living with blind person
(--- and he scoffs at Google's insistence in suggesting the last word should be dog instead.)
He finds tidbits such as, "Let the person with low vision know when you've entered a room. Do not walk away without letting them know you are leaving. Do not leave doors ajar and clear the floor and surfaces of clutter. Avoid rearranging furniture. Address people by name if in group conversation so the blind person is aware of if they are being spoken to or not."
He watches cheesy videos and looks at illustrated guides that look like they're done by the Family Circus guy on how to guide a blind person through narrow hallways and into chairs. He felt a little pang of sadness on reading a blog post about someone who was now afraid to cook for themselves. He laughs at the advice to not sing or clap when offering assistance and immediately starts thinking of how he could start working that into his daily life.
After a half-hour of reading, he feels prepared to make less of a fool of himself, which, really, what more can you ask for?
The first step is to clean, because while he isn't a slob and at least knew enough to keep the floor clear, knowing and doing are two different things. So he pushes his bed aside, cleaning up more junk than he'd ever expected to find underneath to make a space for his backpack, then gives the bed a good shove back into place. As long as he got in the habit he could make sure his backpack was never underfoot.
While he was at it, he might as well tidy up his desk. He tries not to think about Matt possibly reaching out for something to guide him to the door and feeling the sticky remains of what he is reasonably certain is just spilled pop.
Matt chooses that moment to come back from class and Foggy startles violently, knocking an empty can over in his rush to close the tabs on his computer. Off to a good start on this whole not-looking-like-an-idiot thing, Foggy!
"Sorry, didn't mean to startle you," Matt says with a slight grin.
"Oh, naw, naw, I was just. You know. Doing research." Matt is shaking his head in ever-so-slight exasperation as he drops off his bag because any millenial knows the sound of someone trying to hide what they were doing on the computer. And what is his life that he'd rather his roommate think he was looking up something questionable in broad daylight than -
He turned around to see his bed, which he could have sworn he had put right back in its place, sitting a few inches off of the indents in the carpet, and Matt rubbing his foot, hissing a bit under his breath.
"You okay, man? I'm sorry, I was cleaning a bit and I must have moved it... Oh geez, I'm so sorry, I'm such a dick."
"It's fine, Foggy. I just stubbed it." And somehow the fact that Matt was always so nice about everything just made it worse.
"No, seriously, I'm a dick. Please call me a dick, it'll make me feel better."
"I'm not going to call you a -" and he breaks off with a little chuckle. "Seriously, it's not a big deal."
He's only barely gotten started and he's already failed his first self-imposed assignment. Time to regroup.
Foggy wants to continue through the syllabus of GEN250: Living with the Blind, but after the failure of his first project he felt a bit lost on where to go next. Because, of course, this was one of those hipster write-your-own-plan kind of classes.
"Foggy, have you seen my umbrella?" Matt asks as he bursts through the door, running a hand through his hair and interrupting Foggy's train of thought.
"Umbrella? Oh shit, it's really comin' down, isn't it?" Matt nods ruefully, his shoulders and head slightly damp, clearly having hustled back from his previous class. Foggy had been too absorbed in, for a change, actually doing some research for his writing class to notice the change in weather. By research for class, of course, he actually meant about 10 minutes of honest research and a 30 minute break to look for blog posts about what it's like to go blind. He vaguely remembers tossing something umbrella-shaped somewhere during his ill-advised attempt to clean up last week. "You can borrow mine, I'll look for yours later, 'kay?"
Matt gives him a quick thanks and gracefully snatches the umbrella out of his hand as he rushes out of the room as fast as he had rushed in. Foggy chuckles to himself a bit imagining Matt clattering along at top speed across campus like a beacon with Foggy's florescent yellow umbrella. It doesn't take too long to dig up Matt's sombre black one from a sidelined pile of clutter, though he hopes he didn't misplace anything more important.
He looks back at his computer screen, considering what he had been reading earlier. If you want to know what it's like and what you can do to help, why not just ask?, the blogger cajoled.
Even after the initial spark of connection they were still virtual strangers, having only known each other for one three-month quarter. Foggy loves getting to know people, and is more than willing to share uncomfortably personal information early on in a relationship but Matt is the polar opposite to Foggy's open book - a padlocked tome that gives out bits and pieces but never the key.
A fiercely independent, unexpectedly capable book - and this metaphor is falling apart already.
It's left Foggy uncharacteristically uncertain, wanting to do more but unwilling to jeopardize what trust he's built so far.
Luckily, an opportunity arises later that night, when he finally prods Matt into sharing the source of his occasional, quietly dramatic sighs.
"It's just - have you had Snyder for any classes?" Foggy shakes his head, and after a beat, adds a 'no.' "I've been asking for better versions of some handouts, his are all old and my OCR software makes a lot of mistakes when the scan isn't clean." Matt gestures fruitlessly at his computer, and Foggy skims over the open document, catching a few sections that looked like the text had gone through a meat grinder.
"And he hasn't fixed it?"
"He says he's getting to it. I don't think he really gets what the problem is." Matt's tone is mild, but the frustration was clear in the set of his jaw, his white-knuckle grip on the back of his chair.
If there's one thing Foggy knew well about Matt, it's that competent little tome that he is, nothing seems to get under his skin faster than being reminded of exactly what he can't do.
"Can I help? I could try to fix up the really messed up parts, at least until he gets his head out of his ass."
"No, you've got enough to do. I'll follow up with him. I just need to track down the university's rules on the subject, but I have to finish this assignment for tomorrow first. And don't you have that 15-page paper that you haven't even started?"
"I have a title page," Foggy objects weakly.
"Think you might need a little more than that. Like, 14 pages more than that."
He can tell by the way Matt has masterfully changed the subject that he totally called it and this 'asking' thing wasn't going to work.
"Fair point. But seriously, if I can do anything..."
"I'll let you know," Matt says, already popping his earbuds back in.
A few agonizing minutes of searching through their university's eminently unhelpful website and another few to dig up the appropriate law - because what good are law students if they don't haphazardly throw legal precedents at the wall until something sticks? - and drafts up a quick email along the lines of how copies of copies of copies probably don't fit under equal accessibility under the school's requirements and/or Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, so maybe administration should step in.
Before he sends it to Matt he sits back a moment and thinks on how little time that took him, and if the screen reader could handle the school's jazzy, animated front page menus or if it just took too much time to navigate for a grad student's schedule, and all the other things he's probably taking for granted but just can't think of.
"So I know you told me not to bother, buuuuut it seriously only took a few minutes... Here - " he punctuates his sentence with a flourished click of the mouse " - is what you need to sic the Disability Services people on him and get what you need because seriously, the guy needs a kick in the ass."
The ensuing silence is long enough as Matt listens to the email that Foggy begins to wonder if maybe he had crossed a line, assuming that Matt wouldn't be able to handle it himself, or maybe he's actually being too sensitive about helping and that's the offensive part, or -
"Thank you," Matt says quietly, in a way that implied he didn't seem to really know how to handle being cared about, and Foggy really needs to quit with the bizarre protective urges for this grown-ass man. "This should really help."
"Don't worry about it! It's nothing."
"No, I- I appreciate it." A silence where Matt looks like he's about to say more - but settles back into his chair instead with the slightest shake of his head.
"Welp," Foggy says, cracking his fingers obnoxiously loudly, "14 more pages to go."
"Right." Matt clears his throat. "Good luck."
He doesn't really get this odd tension of things left unsaid but it settles quickly enough that he can brush it off and get back to work.
It never really occurred to him until later how Matt had taken the umbrella out of his hand like he knew exactly where it was.
He shrugged it off to dumb luck and wouldn't think of it again until several years later.