Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fool Me Once -- Shame On Me

Eight o-clock in the morning. Time to take my oldest daughter, Mollie, to her summer job. We get into the van and start on our way. All of a sudden the van skips a beat--sending Mollie and me bumping up and down in our seat.

"What was that?" Mollie asked.

"I think I hit a pothole," I signed. "No big deal."

We both heaved a sigh of relief. I dropped Mollie off, giving her a big hug, and then started on my way back home. BUMP! It happened again!

"Man, there's got to be something wrong." I decide to drive to the nearest auto mechanic and see if they can help me.

I pull up to the service station.

"Something's wrong with my van. It keeps bumping or something."

"Is it making any odd noises?" The man behind the counter seemed very nice.

"I'm Deaf. Can you write that down?" I ask. And he does.

"Oh, well obviously, because I can't hear, I wouldn't know." Duh. The man behind the counter blushes and asks me the kind of van I have.

"Uh...silver?" I honestly have no idea. "I'm pretty sure it is a Ford of some sort." I cringe.

It is a Chrysler Town and Country. And thank goodness for this man being polite about it.

"Have a seat and I'll do a test drive."

The man eventually takes my keys and heads out to figure our what's wrong. I stay in the lobby, watching some uncaptioned soap opera on their television.

"I see what worried you. I'm glad you brought it in. Looks like you're losing fuel out of your gas cup and the entire left sided Spockter Galley is loose."

I had absolutely no idea what the man just said, so I asked him (again) to write it down and he did.

"Oh my! I'm glad I brought it in, too! Can you fix it?"

"Well, we can fix it, but it's pretty major work. If we start on it now we can have it done in about four hours.

Wow! Four hours = a lot of labor costs.

"Well, I guess there's no question here. I mean, it's gotta be done, right?"

"I'm afraid so. These kinds of repairs will run you about $2500. But if you like, I can throw in a few free fluid checks."

"Great! Thank you SO much," I said, sincerely grateful.

There was a mall across the street, so I decided to spend my time waiting, window shopping. Four hours went by very slowly. When the time was up I headed back to the mechanic.

"Hi! I dropped off my van four hours ago and the guy said it'd be ready by now."

"What work did we do on that one?" The other guy was checking the books.

"Something with my gas cup and Spockter Galley."

The man looked up from his books and gave me the weirdest look. After a couple of seconds his light bulb came on. "Oh! Yeah! You're the Deaf lady. Sorry about that. Yes, it's ready. It cost us a little more to fix than we expected though. Your total came to $3300."

Heaving a big sigh, I handed over my credit card. I then took my van and headed home. BUMP! I was dumbfounded, so I asked my hubby to test drive it when I got home.

"It's OK, You must have just hit some of the holes in the street. Michigan got it pretty bad last winter."

That's when I broke the news to him.

"$3300!!! For what?!?!"

I told him and just stood there with a bizarre stare in his eyes. He was obviously as stunned as I had been.

When I saw he was upset, I did my best to calm him. "Hey, it's OK. They did some free stuff, too. They even filled up our blinker fluid on both sides. No charge!"

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Immersion Can Be Scary

Ask any Deaf or Sign Language teacher the best and most important way to learn ASL and they're bound to say immersion. You learn by doing. Get out there and meet other deaf people or sign language interpreters. Deaf is best!

When I lost all of my hearing decades ago, I knew that it was time to buckle down and finally learn ASL. The Signed English I was using would no longer do.

At this time, my son, who was born four months early, was in occupational therapy in our home. They hired an interpreter to come to each session so I would be able to participate, too. Most of the time, though, we would sit on the couch and chat or she would help teach me ASL. After a while, it got to where I couldn't really learn more without putting myself out there.

Now, if you know me, you know that I don't do well in social situations. In short, people scare me. Not like, "Boo!" I mean, people don't jump out from behind trees and try to make me pee in my pants (though I'm sure that happens to some people), but the idea of getting out in public and, even worse, chatting with strangers makes me run for the bathroom to lock the door. I'm not sure what I'm afraid of. But, unfortunately, the few times I have put myself out there, my fears have been validated. People can be very rude and mean--especially when they encounter someone with a difference (like deafness).

But, I decided I wanted to give it a try. There was a Deaf club in a town close by and they were meeting one Tuesday night. I asked my little sister to come with me and we ventured out that night.

Oh! It was a terrible experience! Scared the heck out of me. My sister pledged to never go to another Deaf club with me for the rest of her life.

When we got there, we were asked to introduce ourselves. My fingerspelling at that time was horrendous! I couldn't even spell my name fluently. And P-R-A-I-R-I-E-T-O-W-N was a very scary word to attempt (that was where I was living at the time).

Later, during the free social time, my sister and I sat at a table, scared to death, and talked with very few people. Eventually, an older Deaf woman came over to chat. We couldn't make heads or tails of what she was signing, so we did the logical thing--we giggled at everything she said.

"My name is Esther."


"Have you lived in the area for very long?"


"Why are you laughing at everything I'm saying?"


Finally she gave up and left, rightfully agitated with us. So there was not a positive experience to be had. Of course, that was because we did it wrong.

So, as you can see, immersion isn't always easy. It's still the best/only way, mind you. You can't avoid it. But it can be a very scary task. Just be sure, when you do go out, to make it worth your while. Actually socialize. And, if you don't understand--please don't giggle. Take it one step at a time. That's what I had to do. You can do it, too!