Everyone is different. No two people are 100% alike—no matter how hard you look. The same goes for deaf and hard of hearing people. We run the gamut from totally oral to totally ASL. Some use various types of aids, while others (like me) go au natural. Not only do we differ as people, the same person differs from day to day. At least I know I do. Some days you can’t shut me up. Other days I can hardly lift a finger or utter a sound.
I have to be honest and profess that life in general as a Deaf person can be “easier” when that person uses his or her voice while conversing with hearing people while out in public. That does depend, however, on how well they can speak. I personally see no trouble in carrying a notebook and jotting down my thoughts or needs. However, sadly, many hearing people look at the paper I show them with total confusion. “Why are you handing me paper? What am I supposed to do with this?” Uh…read it?
That’s exactly what happened to me the other day. I was having a no-voice kind of day. Didn’t want to be bothered by how loud or unclear I came off as. I happily toted my notebook with me and hadn’t run into any problems…until…
I was hungry, OK? I really needed something to eat and Subway was calling my name. As I sat in my car outside the restaurant, I happily jotted down—very precisely—the exact sandwich and toppings I wanted. Clear as a bell. Easy—peasy.
When I finally went inside, they were busy with the lunch rush, and, for some reason, I was nervous. I often get nervous communicating with hearing people. Actually, I have a social phobia, so I’m nervous with all people. But not being able to hear and hearing people who can’t sign, just increases my fear a hundred fold.
Anyway, I waited patiently, and when my turn came, I politely handed over the list of what I wanted.
“NO!” the girl behind the counter started mumbling and waved me off. I’m guessing she said something about not being willing to take the paper. I pointed to my ear and told her I was deaf and she just continued talking.
“I can’t understand you,” I gestured. After taking a minute, I realized she didn’t want to touch the paper with her gloves on. That it compromised her sanitary space.
“If you can’t just talk to me, then you need to go somewhere else,” she rudely waved me away. I indicated that I could hold the paper up and she could just read it. Obviously, she couldn’t read, because she refused to do that as well. I was very frustrated. It was clear that this woman, whose job is to serve the public, didn’t want to be bothered with anything “out of the ordinary.”
I didn’t get a sandwich that day. I because so flustered and annoyed that I just walked out. I should have asked to talk with the manager, but I admit that sometimes I simply don’t have the energy to bother.