Saturday, June 24, 2006

What to do with RUDE people?

Today I met a rude man at the bus stop. We were waiting for a bus to take us over the bridge. I should have known he would be rude as he had been taking swigs from a Captain Morgan bottle and putting it back in his back pack. After waiting about 5 minutes, he asked if the bus comes soon. I asked how far he was going, as there was only one route. All other traffic has been diverted from Granville to a different block. I was trying to explain to him that to get where he wanted he should take a different bus on the other block, when my bus came. He gestured towards his mouth and asked how come I talk different the other people around here. I detected an accent, but I can't tell where it is from. I told him that I am not from here. Chicago is where I think he said he was from. I'm from th'Atlan'ic coast of this country, I said. He still went on about how I talked different from "other people he's met here". I know darn well he meant. he meant that I don't talk like "normal" people. It's not my accent he was talking about, it's my hearing problem.
Over the years, I have encountered people who ask about my hearing problem, rude or polite. I think it is the rude ones I remember the best. I have been asked why I talk weird, such as the incident I just described. I have been asked if I know sign language, to which I reply "No, because I don't know any one that is deaf." The first time I was asked this, I was waiting in a van for our group to go somewhere and one of the men there just blurted out "so do you know sign language?" No hello, my name is ... what's yours? just "do you know sign language?" When I said I did not, he said something like, oh, I figured you were either deaf or hearing impaired... (I later learned this man, who was later a friend, had a learning disability so not the best with tact eh?) Why do people feel the need to point it out like it is a flaw? It is a good way to make a bad day worse, depending on my mood.
(Btw, for those you who don't know... I have worn hearing aids since I was 4 due to severe hearing loss, that I assume was one result of my birth complications. I do not hear high pitches; birds, cell phones, pager, fire alarms, and certain female voices drive me insane to the point that I try to avoid them if I can. Consequently, I have learned to read lips as a way to get by. I hate people who mumble, or who have strong accents, or men with beards who mumble ... talk about frustrating. I have accepted the fact that I cannot hear things that I assume "normal" people can. I am thrilled to hear that "normal" people have similar problems, meaning it is not just me and my hearing.)
When I was appearing before the board for my ordination, I knew I was going to asked something about my hearing and how it affects my ministry. And of all things, it was a man in his late 30's who had a hearing aid!! Talk about irony. So I explained to them about how I learned that the one thing I wished and prayed to God that I could change, was actually a gift. The Curse was actually a great gift. I just had to figure out how to use it well. I then told them about my absolute terror at being placed in a nursing home for my practicums. I was so scared that I would not hear the older people... Catatonic and the like. I was actually able to use my "gift" to read the lips of the silent and connect with the people due to my hearing aid. I got such a kick out the look on the residents' faces when I would take out my hearing aid to explain what they claimed was "too hard to figure out the dials", and I would show them with my own. Their mouths would drop and I don't think they heard a work after I took mine out. I got a lot of "how old are you, child?", hearing the pity in their voice. I still have to do this from time to time with my current patients. At least it is not so odd to have me on staff as I have met 3 others with hearing aids, and we work on the same floor... oddly enough a geriatric ward!
I will probably forget about the rude man in a day or two, but I really wish people would think before they blurt stuff out.

No comments: