Tag Archives: shit people say

Happy Valentine’s Day! And updated shit…

I’m feeling the love. Yes, I am. Not in the biblical sense, sadly, but in the sense that it feels like deaf people have been having a great big group hug over the fuss around “My chicken is ill.” It was a moment that spoke to all of us, in our own way. I love you guys.

And I’m feeling inspired, yes I am. 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*
Do you really think that waving your hands about randomly is somehow going to turn into comprehensible sign language? It makes about as much sense as thinking that if you go “lllllrlrlrlrlrrrrrrlrlllllll” you’re suddenly speaking Welsh. It’s a bloody insult. Now go away and let me enjoy my drink in peace.

“CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”
I heard you the first time. I just didn’t understand you. Don’t tell me I’m going to have to explain the difference between hearing and understanding to you. If I started speaking Japanese, would you understand me then? But you can hear me can’t you, isn’t that the same thing? No? You don’t say? By the way, distorting your voice and lipshapes like that is really unhelpful.

“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. My great-uncle was in the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War. A few days after the D-Day Landings, he was dropped behind enemy lines into occupied France. His mission was to hook up with the local Resistance, sabotage Nazi efforts and generally assist the advancing Allied army. He not only came back in one piece, he came back with medals. I’m proud to be part of his line, and if I’ve inherited any of that sheer ballsiness I’ll be delighted. But calling me brave merely for wishing to be treated equally and for getting on with my life in the face of general ignorance somehow feels like an insult compared to the shit that people have done and do every day. When I parachute into an enemy-occupied country, knowing there’ll be hell to pay if I’m caught, you can call me brave.
Operation Jedburgh. Look them up.

*Covering their mouth with their hand and mumbling* “did you understand that?” *giggling*
You’re lucky I don’t have a gun licence. But I think I’m going to apply for one tomorrow.

*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!”
If you want to live you’d better let go of my arm. I know ten different ways to cause you crippling pain, and five of them involve your genitals. Do you feel me? No? *crunch* How about now? 

“Where can I learn how to do that?” *After staring, fascinated, at my signing*
If you really want to learn, why don’t you seize some initiative and 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, what do you want me to say? Do you want me to tell you things I can hear if it’s quiet? 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.

*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. Would you screw with someone’s glasses without their permission? Then you don’t touch my hearing-aids without my permission. 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. Now do that again. Do… it… again.

“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. When I take my hearing-aids out I hear alarms, ringing, bells, beeping, high-pitched noises usually. Most of the time this is just background; you know when you hear something so often, so constantly, it becomes just background noise and you almost don’t notice? That’s where I am. Ironically, the quietest time for me is when I have my hearing-aids on, and it’s quiet all around me. And you know what, that’s actually quite nice. 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.”
No I freaking didn’t! If you made a mistake with the time, be honest and own up to it, you lying son of a… how dare you try to blame my deafness for your mistake? How do you explain repeating ten o’clock three times and your lips making the exact shape of ten o’clock three times? What other times look like ten o’clock on the lips? Certainly not half past eight! Instead, you’re going to lie and cover up, and make me totally paranoid that I did mishear you after all, and that I can’t lip-read to save my life. You know what, FU. Seriously, FU.  

“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?”
So help me, if and when I get round to that Phd, I’m going to make you and all the other idiots like you address me as ‘Dr Williams’. In fact, start practising now. My NAME is DR WILLIAMS.

“Why can’t you use a telephone?”
Sigh. Just because you understand what I’m saying, doesn’t mean I understand what you’re saying. Why is this so difficult to grasp? You tell me, how do I lip-read a telephone?

“Can you read?”
Can you?

“How do your hearing-aids work?”
Do I look like a technician? 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!”
Well, thank you. You’ve just informed me that a) you really think my hearing-aids are so good, they can pick out voices from the environment around me and make sense of them, and b) no-one here gives a shit enough to tell me the obvious because they’ve all assumed I already know, because as you say, everyone’s been talking about it for DAYS. Question – has anyone told me directly what is happening? Or have you all assumed that just because I’m in the room, I’ve somehow telepathically picked up on what everyone is saying? FU all.

“Are you deaf?!”
Yes. Are you blind? Note the hearing-aids, the blue earmoulds, the… oh, why do I bother?

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 really are OK. Really.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Spread the love 🙂

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Shit hearing people say…

Inspired by what seems to be the meme of the moment, “shit (people) say to (other people)”, which seems to have begun with “shit girls say”, followed by “shit white girls say… to black girls”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylPUzxpIBe0, which in turn inspired this deaf guy to come up with his own version: http://www.ehwhathuh.com/2012/01/crap-hearing-people-say-to-deaf-hoh.html, I’ve come up with my own list of “shit that hearing people say”.

The following is shit that has genuinely been said to me. I’ve included my own mental comments in response to these statements / questions, my actual response at the time was often far more patient and polite. But sometimes, it would be nice to ignore the conventions of polite society… (A disclaimer: not all hearing people are this stupid. In fact, some of them are lovely.)

“Oh, are deaf people allowed to drive?” (multiple)
Yes. When you ban music, radio, mobiles, people from talking and any and all auditory distractions in cars, you can take my driving licence. In fact, not even then. It’s mine, I passed my test first time, I have a clean record and ten years’ worth of no-claims bonuses, so naff off.

“I find how hearing impaired people can communicate really fascinating.”
This makes me twitch on several levels, but the main one is: often I’m doing my best to communicate with you because you’re doing F-all to communicate with me. If you’re going to patronise me, I’m not going to bother.

“Aha! How did you know what I was saying?”
Because I know the topic of the conversation, and you’re predictable. Just because I correctly guessed what you said when I wasn’t looking at you doesn’t mean I’ve been faking my deafness for the last 25 years. But saying this as if you’ve just caught me with my hand in the cookie jar just makes me want to hurt you.

“You have a selective hearing loss!”
Do I? I must inform my audiologist of this, as according to their scientific tests, my hearing loss is pretty even, though there is a dip in the low-pitched range. I had no idea I had voluntary control over my level of hearing, I must submit myself to a medical study immediately.

“I bet you’re not really deaf.”
You’ll lose that bet. How about putting £10,000 on it?

“You don’t look deaf.”
What do you want me to do about it? What do deaf people look like anyway?

“You speak so well, I didn’t think you needed an interpreter.” (!!!!)
Wait, what? Did you even ask me? Just because I’m a skilled lipreader and mimic, you’ve decided to punish me for what hearing people have always wanted me to do; speak well. Fact: production is not the same as reception. Communication is a two way street. Now get me an interpreter or there’s going to be a mushroom cloud.

“Hey, do you know this sign…” *Y* *don’t* *you* *F* *off* while slapping hands together randomly in an order that all deaf people recognise because they’ve been asked this a lot of times, usually by people with a mental age of 5*
Honestly, officer, my hand just slipped. And my foot. Do you think they’ll be able to re-set thier nose? Wait, why are you arresting me?

“You don’t sound deaf.”
Not all deaf people are the same, and some go deaf after they started learning to speak. Some do well with hearing-aids, some don’t. Some become good mimics, imitating lip shapes and making sounds until corrected by hearing people around them. It’s no coincidence that I still haven’t mastered several ‘soft’ sounds that aren’t on the lips, and that I say some words in a ‘strange’ way as I said them in a particular way for so long before I was corrected that it’s become habit. OK? Have I justified myself enough?

“It doesn’t matter.”
Oh, my lord. You DID NOT just say that to me. You did not just repeat something a mere three times before giving up and saying it doesn’t matter. If it didn’t matter why say it to me in the first place? Now that’s going to bug me. And thanks, for the boost to my self-esteem that you can’t be bothered and you’d rather give up trying with me altogether. Do you have ANY IDEA how many times and how many people have said that to me, to deaf people, the world over? Effectively, what you’re saying is “it doesn’t matter if YOU haven’t understood.”

“I’ll tell you later”… “oh, I forgot.”
*Frustrated growl*

“Why don’t you just get a cochlear implant?”
I see no reason why I should discuss my medical details with you, suffice to say that whatever some idiot newspapers might say, cochlear implants are not suitable for all deaf people, in the same way that glasses are not suitable for all partially-sighted people. Sometimes glasses won’t work. Sometimes cochlear implants won’t work. Capisce?

“Are you listening?”
No, I’m lip-reading. Dick.

“Can you read their lips and tell me what they’re saying?” *pointing to someone fifty feet away*
Surprisingly enough, no. Nor can I see through clothes, or be repelled by Kryptonite. I have enough trouble with people ten feet away.

“You’re deaf? Oh, sorry” *as if I’ve just said that my entire family has died, including the cats*
*Sniffling* It’s OK… It’s just such a tragedy. Whatever did I DO to deserve this misfortune? *cries and wails*
No, not really.

Is that a bluetooth device? Where can I get one like that?”
Easy. Stand next to a cannon. Send the audiologist my regards.

“Oh, hello.” *turn to computer and mumble unintelligibly. Look up* “well?” (Receptionists in audiology departments should be trained out of doing this with electroshock therapy)
Well, what?

“If you’re deaf, how did you learn to speak like that?”
*Deep sigh* Lip-reading, imitation, random noises, correction. Can we move on?

“Are those earphones? Can you turn your music down, please?”
No, they’re not, and I think you’ll find the music’s coming from the pub over there. Why don’t you go over to the big guy with all the tattoos and ask him to turn it down? Here, I’ll video it on my phone and put it on YouTube.

“What about when you have children? Aren’t you worried they might be deaf?”
That’s the last thing I’m worried about. I’m more worried about any deaf children I might have running into ignorance like I’ve put up with. I want what most people want; a better world for our children, whoever they grow up to be.

“Why are you ignoring me?”
This isn’t even worthy of a response. I’ll email you my audiogram in an attachment. Or it might be a virus. Say hello to the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!

*To my interpreter* “How do you do that?”
Erm, excuse me, I’m over here, and I think you’ll find the interpreter is on my time. Thank you.

I should emphasise that the comments in italics are just responses in my head, often that I’ve come up with later, after the incident, and that I’m usually as polite and patient as I can be, as I take the view that answering questions honestly is one of the best ways to dispel ignorance. It’s just that sometimes the questions are just so… well… stupid.

And again, most hearing people I’ve met are lovely. Really.