The path of least resistance

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The path of least resistance

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Trick-or-treating is the second biggest moment in a kid’s year, falling just behind Christmas morning. It’s a night filled with fun costumes, spooky decorations and, most importantly, candy.

The fun-filled event keeps kids coming back to celebrate it year after year. Even this year, at 18-years-old, I joined in on the Halloween festivities. I know what you’re thinking: I’m just another sad teenager holding on too tight to childhood, but don’t worry; I didn’t spend the night trick-or-treating alone.

I spent the night with a group of about eight people— various ages and levels of costume commitment throughout. We traveled house to house, picking up candy and joking the whole time: a classic night of merriment.

The tone changed as the night began to wind down. There were only a few doors left to knock on and most of the gaggles of children had gone home. My group approached a big house on a hill; imagine all of the horror movie mansions you’ve ever seen. Then, make it fancier.

A house so big and decked out that we were all running up to the door, motivated by the prospect of full-sized candy bars. Giggling and shivering, we approached the man sitting on the porch, who, upon noticing us, leaned over and flipped a switch on a little box that sat next to him. A strobe light.

Normally, this would be fine. Strobe lights are fun, they’re spooky, perfect Halloween decor. Except for me.

Not that this man could have been aware, but I’m epileptic. Among others, flashing lights have the potential to trigger my seizures. So strobe lights are a big no-no.

Immediately, I turned away from the light, stopped halfway up the driveway and closed my eyes. My friends, aware of the issue, tried to remedy the situation. A few of them staying with me, while another asked the man if he could turn off the light.

“My friend’s epileptic,” he said. “She can’t be around flashing lights.”

The man chuckled to himself, but the light was not turned off. I was walked back down to the street, eyes closed, with the help of the group. The night felt different; we skipped the last few houses and just went home.

Looking back on the situation, it makes no sense to me. Why didn’t the man just turn off the light? Even further, why’d he laugh? It took him no longer than five seconds to dismiss my problem. My trigger didn’t affect him, so he moved on with his life on the path of least resistance.

I’m epileptic. At the end of the day, it’s fairly easy for me to avoid seizure-inducing situations. Videos and plays with flashing lights provide warnings and people don’t just walk around with strobe lights in their hands. I’m pretty well off in the area of trigger warnings.

Thousands of flippant jokes exist about “being triggered,” you can barely go a day without hearing one. But, when was the last time you heard someone honestly discussing a trigger warning? Are we all, like the man on his porch, just taking the path of least resistance, only worrying about what affects us?