As a socially anxious person with a healthy distaste for humankind, I’ve occasionally gone the extra mile to avoid interactions with other people. I’ve taken fake phone calls, I’ve pretended to be listening to music, and once when I was around 13, I spiked myself with laxatives to get out of a social gathering. Tragically, they did not take effect until I had already arrived at the destination, but I like to think of myself as having an above-average ability to parachute out of social obligations.
As adept as I am at evading other people, I’m not sure I could hold a candle to the exploits of Carmen Jiménez, who was reported to have spent the last 28 years managing a serious eye injury that left her completely blind. In a shocking twist that not even her family saw coming, Carmen has revealed that she was faking it for the best part of three decades, so strong was her disdain for other people.
Carmen Jiménez is 57 years old, and lives in the Spanish city of Madrid, which is home to over 3 million people. If you’re out in the city, that probably means a lot of social interactions, like talking to shop clerks, helping confused tourists or passing people you vaguely know in the street, and engaging in inane smalltalk about the weather and your respective weekend activities. One day, Carmen decided she’d had enough of all that.
“I was tired of meeting people on the street and stopping to say hello, I’ve never been very social person, and by pretending to be blind I was able to avoid many social responsibilities.”
The revelation from Carmen, who has kept up the act for 28 years, has shocked many around her, not least her own family, who were none the wiser about Carmen’s feigned visual impairment. Though they had always suspected that something was awry with Carmen’s eyes (her makeup was apparently always done perfectly, for example), her husband admits the news was a “hard blow”, but maintains that she has the support of her family.
“Many times we seemed to see her looking sideways at the television and she was always very well made up.”
After 28 years of avoiding people by faking blindness, Carmen has a lot of explaining to do and not only to her friends and family. Because she pretended to be blind, she benefitted from financial aid and personal assistance for her disability. Now, she’s going to have to face the courts, and although she is adept at pretending to be blind, justice actually is blind.
In today’s world of technology and social, face-to-face interactions perhaps aren’t as common as they used to be, but Carmen Jiménez has well and truly set the bar when it comes to creative ways to avoid talking to people for long periods of time. I hope to one day reach her level of commitment to misanthropy.