There is a coffeehouse in Prague where the waiters and waitresses are BLIND. They serve their customers in total darkness.
Café in the Dark, a project at the Potme (Slovak word for “in the dark”), operates for a few days every year. The café aims to open the eyes of sighted people to a world in which blind people live.
Inside the café are six tables and each table can seat up to four people. There’s a board at the entrance of the café that indicates which tables are already taken – a pretty smart way of informing people since it is impossible to see anything except darkness once you step inside.
As visitors go in, a guide leads them to their table and help them find their seats.
At the table, visitors feel totally helpless. They pour the milk on themselves instead of pouring it into the cup. Additionally, they spill the sugar, break the cups, and bump against each other.
In return for their pain and profound sense of helplessness, they gain an insight of how difficult life is for people who do not have the gift of sight and maybe they will become more understanding and helpful the next time they encounter a blind person.
The profit of this project (Potme) is donated to the Světluška (“Glowworm”) charity for sightless people.
During the days when the café first opened, there were reports of customers showing a variety of reactions to the darkness. Some obediently followed their waiters while others panicked. Unable to navigate for themselves and maneuver in the dark, the customers nervously clutched at each other and the café staff.
The staff who’s already familiar with perpetual darkness find their way admirably and seamlessly inside the café despite learning its layout for only a couple of days.
Imagine closing our eyes and pretending that we are living in darkness for 10 minutes. This exercise might just give us an idea of how it is to live in a blind person’s world. I don’t know about you but this makes me truly grateful for the two gifts I open everyday…the gift of sight – my eyes.
Reference: Serge Remy, author of “Secrets of Coffee”