Imagine you’re working somewhere when a person from another country comes up to you for help—a country whose language you do not know. They can speak a few words of English, but you cannot speak their language. What would you do in order to communicate with them? Would you start making up gibberish while laughing at them? Would that be the professional or polite way to go? Of course not!
So, it really bothers me a great deal when I go into certain establishments and they do that to me.And, unfortunately, it happens a lot.
Last week, I entered the library to pick up some holds and look around a bit for relaxation. I took my time and enjoyed myself. But, like virtually all of my experiences out there among the hearing, it turned awry when I had to go to the desk to check my books out.
The woman took my books and started the process. Along with that, she decided, as most people do, to make small talk. I pointed to my ear and said, “I’m deaf.” She did the popular, “Oooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I’m so sorry,” bit.
“It’s not your fault,” I usually retort. I was hoping to get out of there as quickly as possible. Why are so many hearing people sorry I’m deaf? Yes, I do know what they meant, but when you start to get that line every time you leave your house, it gets frustrating.
Then it happened.
I imagine I must be living in the 60’s and 70’s where the disco ball revolves flashes around the ceiling, because all of a sudden she started waving her arms and flashing her hands and laughing as she’s doing it.
Unfortunately, it happens a lot. Hearing people tend to think that, since they do not speak American Sign Language, the next best thing is to act like they do. They start to go into these…convulsions…slapping their arms about and laughing like it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. And, I must say, it ticks me off.
If these people had lights attached to their arms and hands, they would get the same result as that Japanese cartoon many years ago that had a strobe light and sent many viewers into epileptic fits.
You know, if you don’t know how to converse in someone’s language, don’t resort to making fun of it. It might be that you’re trying to show them that you wish you knew how to use their language, but the result will always be the same.
Don’t mock us and we won’t mock you.