Didn’t catch that

I’m not outgoing. At all.

Before I lost my hearing, I wasn’t exactly outgoing, but I could strike up a conversation with someone and didn’t exactly fear conversation as I do now. It’s not that I fear people, or fear of not knowing what to say, but it’s that I fear I won’t understand a word that the person is saying. And it’s usually justified because I can rarely understand what someone says to me the first three times if I’ve never met them or don’t know them really really well.

I don’t even know if fear is the right word. I just hate looking like an idiot, simply because I’m not one. It just appears that way on occasion. Sorta. For instance, a few months ago I had some Jehovah Witness people knock on my door. I think that’s the right names for them, but you know what I mean. White shirts, black slacks and ties, people who talk your ear off trying to convert you to their religion, going through all avenues including arguing with you about what you believe. Those people.

They knocked on my door a while back and my three year old son opened the door before I could tell him not to. As soon as I got to the door, a guy who looked about twenty-ish (white shirt, black tie) launched into a spill about the religion. I have no clue what on earth he was saying, but it seemed like I waited an insanely long time before he took a breath so I could interrupt. I kindly told him I was deaf and that I wasn’t going to be able to understand what he was saying.

Now most of the time people will nod, leave their printed information for me to read, and head to the next house. But this guy launched into the spill again, meaning I had to wait another nine years for him to take another breath. When I interrupted this time, I was a little more earnest in saying that I couldn’t understand anything he said because I couldn’t hear. At all.

And at this point he keeps going. Unbelievable!

I’m a little annoyed by now, since I’ve been standing at my door for about five minutes and am wondering what kind of havoc my kids have imposed upon my house in the time I’ve been here with this guy not understanding what he’s saying. So after he launched into action the third time, I completely interrupt what he saying (while he’s saying it) and say that I really can’t understand him and I’m sorry but I can’t stand here and need to check on my kids. Door in the face. Sorry dude, but you asked.

In the brief moment before I shut the door, I could see the change in him and his other friends as their faces became kind and polite to this girl is crazy weird. I know, I know, it wasn’t my fault that the guy couldn’t take a hint, but you’d really be surprised at how many people that I come across who just simply do not understand what “I can’t hear” means.

Chick-fil-a. I’m standing in line to get food while my mom is about 20 feet away at a table with my two kids. I order two of their kids meals and then I’m trying to order two of their chicken sandwich meals. The woman, probably late twenties, early thirties, asks me something about the chicken sandwich. I kindly asked her to repeat her question, telling her I don’t hear. She repeats it and I still don’t get it. I ask her to repeat it once more, apologizing, and I still can’t understand. I know that it can’t be too important, so I just tell her it doesn’t matter, I just want those regular sandwiches with the fries and specify the type of drink. But she just asks me the question again. I’m sorry I say, I just can’t get it, but she asks the question again.

Now you must realize at this point that it is lunchtime, so I have a few people behind me, waiting their turn. When she wouldn’t stop asking the question, I turn around and try to make eye-contact with my mom, and I see all those people behind me giving me a dirty stare. Ok, dirty might be a little exaggeration. But I can tell by their faces that I’m taking way to long to order and they aren’t particularly happy about it.

So after the fourth or fifth time that she asks me, I turn quick to try and get my mom’s attention, but she’s focused on the kids. The lady taking my order has garnered the attention of the manager on duty, and he tries asking me the question. I tell him that I simply can’t hear and they both stand there not really knowing what to do. I’m about to break down in tears at this point, so I turn around and loudly call my mom’s name (lots of people, so this place is noisy). The two or three tables of people near her are also staring at me at this point, along with all the people in line behind me. Arg!!

My mom is a lifesaver. I love her dearly. And I’m pretty sure she could tell that my emotions were hanging on a very thin thread when she walked up. She completely took charge of the situation, answering the questions that the manager was now asking and the lady punched them all in. One question. Original or spicy.

What I hate most is that these things happen on a day to day basis. It’s easy most of the time to chalk it up to people just not knowing how to deal with someone who is deaf. I should have asked the lady to write it down, but all I could even think after the moment was why didn’t she just give me original?

When it happens so often, there are times when I can just can’t hang on emotionally. Last night I was at a meeting and the speaker asked a question and passed the microphone to the first person to answer. After the person answered, she passed the microphone to the next person, and on down the line as everyone answered. I was next to last, but I had no clue what was being said or even what the question was, so I just passed the microphone to the person after me. Of course everyone was looking directly at me when it was my turn and I made some sort of dumb comment out of sheer embarrassment like sorry, I don’t understand what everyone is discussing.

The meeting goes on, and I slip out after everyone’s attention is focused on the speaker. This stuff happens every day, but sometimes my emotions just snap. I’m not really sad or majorly depressed, but the tears start and I can’t seem to stop them. All I can do is sit in a quiet place, take deep breaths, and wait until my emotions become manageable again.

But the thing is that it’s never really anyone’s fault. The Jehovah Witness dude wasn’t being mean or rude when I couldn’t understand him, but he just didn’t understand what I was saying. The chick-fil-a girl wasn’t mad that I couldn’t understand her, but she did talk a little louder or slower every time, trying to get me to understand, but it was just too hard for me. And even the speaker from last night’s meeting wasn’t at fault. Nor is it my own fault. What I know is that it’s just the reality of living with what I live with. I’m stuck in this rut where I can’t understand sign language, yet I have to work so hard to understand people speaking.

So the point of all of this? Well, it’s just a bunch of rambling of my everyday frustrations. But maybe you leave understanding a little more of the stuff I go through on a day to day basis. No pity party here, I know that there are so many out there who deal with so much, and I’m just one of many. But I keep my head above the water knowing how truly blessed I am with life. My husband, kiddos, and my life-saving mom are just a few of the people I’m so incredibly thankful for.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for this. My father has almost completely lost his hearing. This gives me an idea of how he must feel. He can’t hear when more than one person is speaking at a time and I forget how frustrated and “left out” of the conversation he must feel at times.

    I will remember to make more of an effort to keep him IN the conversation.

    Nice to meet you too. I saw your reply on The Pioneer Woman and thought I would stop by.

    Reply

    • Thanks for stopping in! I started this blog because someone told me once that she really didn’t know what I went through, and understandably so, since I never took the time to explain. Or rather it was too emotional for a brief explanation. I’m so glad to hear that voicing everyday happenings might help someone. And it’s nice to meet you too!

      Reply

  2. Thank you for this. I came over from PW. If I hadn’t read your blog, I probably would have been one of those dumb people, but now I’ll know better. What you said makes perfect sense. And I think blogging is a great way to help people understand and to help yourself too.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Sue on June 19, 2010 at 1:14 am

    I came across your blog via PW and had to check it out. I am left deaf and the right ear is not that good either.
    I suck at sign language and lip reading. And at 55 years of age I wonder if I will ever get it. I throw a pity party
    and no one ever shows up. Whats up with that? I’m enjoying your blog. Thanks for keeping it real.
    Sue

    Reply

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