Recently, I wrote a post called “shit hearing people say” and it seems that spoke to a few people as well, it’s amazing (and a little depressing) how common some of them were. Well, I’ve remembered some more. Again, all of the following is shit that has actually been said to me, and again I’ve included my own comments / thoughts that whilst not what I said at the time, was pretty much what I was thinking. And again, a disclaimer, not all hearing people are like this. Many of them are, in fact, lovely.
*Making random hand shapes and looking confused / irritated when I don’t understand*
Waving your hands about randomly is not sign language. It makes about as much sense as thinking that if you go “lllllrlrlrlrlrrrrrrlrlllllll” you’re suddenly speaking Welsh.
“CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”
I heard you the first time. I just didn’t understand you. If I started speaking Japanese, would you understand me then? But you can hear me, isn’t that the same thing? No? You don’t say.
“Perhaps you could add your father to your bank account and that way we could call him and discuss things without bothering you with a phone call you every time.”
Thank you for that suggestion, HSBC. Or you could just do you’re damn well asked and just text me if there’s a problem. I’m perfectly capable of managing my own financial affairs, thank you.
“You’re SO brave!”
Let me tell you a story. A few days after the D-Day Landings, my great-uncle parachuted behind Nazi lines into occupied France. If I’ve inherited any of that gumption I’ll be delighted. But calling me brave merely for getting on with my life somehow feels like an insult compared to the things that people have done and do every day. When I parachute into an enemy-occupied country, you can call me brave. Operation Jedburgh. Look them up.
*Covering their mouth with their hand and mumbling* “did you understand that?” *giggling*
So tempting to hold up my hand in a popular gesture and ask if you understood that…
*Grabbing my arm and spinning me round to look at them* “Hey! Didn’t you hear what I was saying? We’re shutting IN TEN MINUTES!”
Funnily enough, no I didn’t. Unhand me or I’ll exercise my right to self-defence.
“Where can I learn how to do that?” *After staring, fascinated, at my signing*
If you really want to learn, why not google sign language courses in your area? Most likely your local college will have a course or two. Or your local Uni. Just please don’t ask me.
“How much can you hear?”
It’s amazing how many times I’ve had this question. I suppose it’s a natural curiosity to wonder what I can hear but the fact is, it’s not a fair question. You’re asking me to judge what I get through my hearing-aids and something I have no memory or knowledge of. I can tell you that tannoys sound like lawnmowers if they ever learned to talk – quiet lawnmowers. I can tell you that if you listen to my hearing-aids through a device that some audiologists have (a sort of stethoscope but with a bit that hooks to your earmould instead of a freezing cold disc of metal) you’ll hear distorted, loud clanging noises. My brain has had to learn to make sense of that. How much can I hear? Do you know, I genuinely don’t know. I hear pianos, cars and birds, but only in isolation. The environment HAS to be quiet, or any noise is just lost in the din. I mean, why does it matter?
“Do we have to have the subtitles on? It’s so distracting.”
No, not at all. Here, let’s turn the sound off as well. Well, I don’t need it…
*Pointing to a car whose alarm is shrieking* “Can you hear that?”
Hear it, are you kidding me? I’ve had to turn my hearing-aids off. And now my tinnitus has a new noise to play with. Oh, great.
“What happens if I do this?” *tap hearing-aid / touch earmould / push earmould*
Hey, pal. Not cool. I want you to consider my aids as very much part of my personal bubble, OK? Also, inside my ear, my earmoulds are literally millimetres away from my eardrum. A direct blow – or an unexpected push on the outside of the mould – can actually be quite painful. Not. Cool.
“What’s it like to live in a world of silence?”
Whoa, ease up on the melodrama there, fella. Besides, I wouldn’t know. I have tinnitus, which is like a constant noise in my ears. Sometimes I wish I did live in a world of silence. Didn’t see that coming did you?
“Oh, I’m sorry, I said half-past eight. You must have misheard me.”
If you made a mistake with the time, be honest and own up to it. Don’t make me paranoid that I did mishear you after all, and that I can’t lip-read to save my life. Not. Cool.
“Does she drink tea?” *to my mother, literally while I was standing next to her*
No. She doesn’t.
“Have you heard about God? God’s love is…”
“No I’m deaf, excuse me…”
*Shrieks* “God can cure you! God can cure all things! God’s love is all-powerful! He is all-highest!” *while tapping ears and waving arms in air and rolling eyes and holding up hands in supplication*
Oh God, let’s get out of here! Go, go, go!
“WHAAAAT’S YOOOOOUUUUURRRRRRRR NAAAAAAAAAAMMMMME?”
“Why can’t you use a telephone?”
Sigh, again. Just because you understand what I’m saying, doesn’t mean I understand what you’re saying. Tell me, how do I lip-read a telephone?
“Can you read?”
“How do your hearing-aids work?”
No idea. All I know is; Microphone – delicate electronics – amplifier – earmould. There’s no magic. That really is all a hearing-aid is. And no, you cannot take it apart to find out.
“How can you not know that? Everyone’s been talking about it for DAYS!”
FYI, my hearing-aids are not so good that they can pick out voices from the environment around me and make sense of them. Nowhere near. Also, I’m not a telepath.
“Are you deaf?!”
Yes. Well done.
Once again, the italics are just what’s in my head, and I really do believe that honest and patient answers are the best way to get rid of ignorance. It’s just that sometimes, one’s patience is sorely tested.
And most hearing people are OK. Really.