Most people here don't know this, but I'm 90% deaf. Yes, that's pretty bad, however I talk fine and most never know it. Frankly it does not bother my personal life a bit. However,,,,
Every time I go to the checkout at a store and get asked something, or get approached by someone, I shake my head and say "I'm sorry but I'm 90% deaf, can't hear a thing" and wave my hand like "just forget about it".
NOW, once I state that, I assume they will do one of two things. They will say "oh, sorry, never mind then" and not try to ask me anything more.
OR they will look me in the eye, speak up loud and really try to make sure I hear them.
BUT NO! Instead almost every time they repeat what they just said, just as soft, without looking at me. WTF? Hello, if I already told you I can't hear you, what makes you think I will this time!?
So I end up saying the same damn thing "uh, I said I'm 90% deaf, I can't hear you, ok? Never mind it". They then will ask me several more times the same thing, even looking away.
Would you ask a blind man twice what color your car is? No, so why keep saying the same thing just as softly and even looking away from someone who just told you they can't hear????
I just don't get that and I really want to know why they do that? Some even keep asking me questions of all kinds as I just stand there with this "boy are you stupid" look in my face.
I just want them to not ask me anything, just forget about it. It's always just "how's your day, or did you find everything" stuff anyways.
So, do you do that? If so why? If not, any idea why others do that? It gets very tiring to deal with this all day long. Thankfully I spend most of my day at home working.
I think I know, and it's hard to describe, but I'll give it a shot, because I worked in customer service for many years.
I believe it's because most of social interaction is habit, and it's hard enough to break out of habit when you're just chatting. But when you add on the fact that most customer service people operate on "scripts" that they use - the same things said, over and over - it's even harder to get them to depart from them - it's like asking a typist to suddenly use an entirely new style of keyboard, or a doctor to word all her questions a different way, or a teacher to start off a semester without ever giving his introductory lecture. We work by patterns, performing the same function over and over, and those patterns are a lot less flexible than the more organic patterns in casual social interaction.
In some places I've worked as a customer service rep, we got "scripts" supplied us ahead of time for less common situations such as helping someone with a disability. You have to go off your usual "smile and assist" mode to "smile and assist mode 2" mode. It takes a bit of a jump. It's not a matter of intelligence, it's one of momentum. It helped if the customer eased the way for me in some way - for instance, by stating exactly what they need, not just the fact that they can't reach the counter from the wheelchair.
The same thing happens to me every time I go to the doctor. I always have the same request that disconcerts the nurses, because it's just so far outside their routine and training. So I've learned to present it in a way that says "That's final. Nothing more needed from your end."
So the solution, I've found, is to take charge of the game. Rewrite the rules ahead of time. So instead of saying, "I can't hear you," add the obvious: "I can't hear you, but that's okay. Just let me know if there's anything more you need from me" or whatever.
Thanks, that makes sense. I always assumed that once I say "I can't hear you" and kind of wave my hand like "never mind" that they would get the hint that I'm saying "just don't bother".
But I suppose many don't and keep with what they think they should be doing. Still, when they keep asking you stuff when your looking in your wallet after telling them you can't hear, it get annoying.
Bill, some people just aren't considerate. Some weren't brought up right and just act like ass'. It bothers me to see things like this happen. The best thing to do is just shrug it off and laugh. People can be soooo ignorant, it doesn't matter how many times you try to explain yourself they just dont hear it!
I would agree with that, Bill - I think that the other thing is the type of shop. When I worked in a small hardware store, we had the time to talk to the customers as individuals.
In the supermarket, by contrast, you were so busy that it was tough - after an hour on the checkout, you soon go into autopilot mode to protect yourself from the tedium! More than a few times, I had customers saying...'But you just served me an hour ago...how can you not remember me?'
Sadly, such impersonality is the cost of the Wal-Mart culture
Bill, doesn't it get ridiculous? OMG
The worst is [like my best friend born completely deaf] assume if they scream you'll understand better. I learned sign language at 12, because my best friend then was deaf, but could not talk, mind you we were still young.
Bill, having spent my life with deaf folk, I see what to me is ignorance, when in fact it's more about most people have not been around certain disabilities. And not understanding it is not a disability as much as a challenge. Gosh, I made all the embarrassing mistakes, like signing back what someone had said. Continually forgetting she/he read lips better than a CIA op
Maybe Bill, some people are just nervous how to act in fear of making you feel deaf. When they don't realize, um, you are 90% - so what does that mean? Is it only loud noises? Or just a faint mumble of activity?
But yes Bill, there will always be people who just go through the motions, couldn't care either way. And so you should return the favour, while understanding them, keep shaking your head to make them repeat themselves
Awesome you can talk Bill
Thanks Kimberly, I had no idea you know so much about it. Yeah I can talk just fine, which is why I think some people don't believe it when I say I'm 90% deaf.
In fact most people never know I'm like that as I can do okay in most social functions. Maybe spending so much time by myself is making me intolerant of having to deal with others.
My two parents-in-law both had hearing problems, but because I knew it I just knew to work up some more volume when I talked to them. I can't say I've ever had anyone I don't know say they can't hear well.
I do know, though, that when you don't suffer with a vision or hearing problem your head just isn't even on those issues. I once worked where there was a company store that had a blind man as the clerk when it was open. The first time time I went in there, I knew he was blind; but when he said $3 (or whatever it was) I held out the cash, waiting for him to take it.
Not even having his blindness on my mind (because I guess I just automatically took for granted that he was like everyone else, even if I knew he was blind), I wasn't noticing that he was holding out his hand, waving it a little to get my attention, and waiting for me to realize I should place the cash in his hand. THEN, of course, I felt about as stupid as it gets.
I realized it was because I'm someone who just kind of sees everyone as perfectly "able" (and who just kind of assumes people with disabilities have their way of managing and functioning) that made me not even have his disability on my mind. I mean, it took a little while for me to even notice that he was signaling with his hand. I was all wrapped up in what I buying and whether I'd get somewhere in time.
(Not sure if the explanation is spending so much time by yourself. I spend a lot of time out, dealing with people; and I know THAT is enough to make a person want to kill after awhile. )
I get something similar, from my wife. I have poor hearing and she just can't seem to adapt her voice to my hearing! She will say something from the other room and I either won't hear at all, or I will know she said something but not to who or what. This is going on 15 years...
When I was overseas I would tell clerks, "Please speak slowly so I can understand you." Very few were able to react with slow, clear speech. Most went into 'super-polite' mode, which was impossible to understand.
I know, it really can. We're all seeing our own patterns - I mean, we go through the same rigmarole each time - and it really grates on the nerves to get the same response over and over. But yeah, being blunt in a polite way seems to be the only response I've found that doesn't cause more conflict or stress for both parties.
Health care is a really stressful industry to work in because of this, I've noticed. If you work in health care, you have to be very routine-oriented, because that's the job, while at the same time you have to listen carefully to each patient and treat them individually. So you find that breaking the routine becomes part of the job itself, but you don't get to exercise your creative smarts when you do it - you just have to memorize more situational routines.
We've pretty much wiped out our sensitivity to others' signals and smothered our creative intelligence by requiring that we respond to people according to a protocol in the name of efficiency and litigation immunity all the time.
They probably assume that you lip read. When people speak louder, they exaggerate their lip action. This is not a good thing to do with deaf people that lip read as they read the lips in a natural way. An exaggerated lip action can be mis-read.
It must be really frustrating for you. I suppose you have looked into those new digital aids? I dont know the nature of your condition, but there has to be something on the market or a learning technique that can help with the quality of your life?
lol, apparently even typed text can be misread, Shaz
By looking away, the teller is making it harder to read lips (if that is what Bill even wants) and there is no mention of speaking louder is there...
It seems Bill just would prefer not be bothered with the trivial stuff anyway. I imagine that if you do read lips and you did need to understand what they are saying you would tell them to look at you while speaking?
Its a bit anti-social to dismiss anything the teller may be saying but then again you are the customer and its your prerogative to be involved as little as you wish too.
Ill concur with the previous commenters, the CSRs are simply stuck on autopilot and you are not having an effect to jolt them into thinking - when you dont respond as expected to the trivialities they just repeat it.
But then again maybe they are asking paper or plastic, do you have a shoppers club card, or sir, wait you overpaid.. some of those queries expect a response
What a frustrating thing to have to deal with everyday. IMO- it may be a knee-jerk response to being told of your hearing limits. Most people become concerned that they will do the wrong thing and insult or offend you. This being the case, they end-up outside of their personal comfort zone and begin to panic a bit, in an attempt to avoid ticking you off, they end up doing just that anyway.
So, cut folks some slack, no one sets out to cause you frustration because of your hearing limits. Remember that you are aware of your hearing limits, the people around you are just trying not to hurt you or do the wrong thing.
Well thanks all for the responses. I normally don't let it tick me off but I had a bad thing today with it and it set me off a bit.
For the record, it's a dead nerve situation with me. I was born with it and nothing can be done. I have never heard most sounds normal hearing people do.
Yes I do a combination of lip reading and hearing what I can, along with just knowing how they talk what they said. Amazing how most people say the same thing all the time.
I've tried many hearing aids but they don't do a good job with my situation. Frankly I now just want to live the way I am and not bother with them.
Not being able to hear much is not that big a deal if your not a very social person or work at home as I do. I guess I just need to bite my tongue when these situations come up.
After all they don't understand and are just doing their job.
They are most likely freaking out at your very candid style. When you tell them you can't hear it probably catches them off guard and they just don't know what to do with that information - or maybe that's just my Englishness coming out - if in doubt be embarassed and awkward
My mom has memieres disease, and has about 20 percent hearing but with distortion, because she has noise in her heard. She lives close to me about a mile away so we spend quite a bit of time together in public and I think that the problem is that she looks fine. With most people that are hard of hearing, as opposed to blind, is that they look like they can hear, and people often think that she is being rude or they are not kind to her because they think that she is just ignoring them. I have stated too many people "my mom can’t hear what you are saying, but she can read your lips so talk a little slower.
I believe that it’s hard for people to understand unless they have had someone they love that is deaf around them or are hard of hearing themselves. Unfortunately that seems to be the norm. You do however get the occasional few that are patient and understanding, but maybe that because they have lived with someone hard of hearing?
Is there a large retirement community near you? Pretty much the entire population of that retirement community is medically a mess. Go to the same store they do; the clerks will be trained how to interact re: deafness.
The disabled man I work for hears only out of one ear - if you're on the wrong side of him he can't decipher what you're saying so when this happens he says "I can't hear you out of that ear. You need to speak really loudly to me, or talk to my other ear." If people keep speaking softly to him, he just looks away and ignores them. But he's had this problem for a long long time and he's 87 now - he doesn't put up with much b.s. I do think it will help alot if you tell people - "speak louder please, I can't hear very well." and then let them know if its still not loud enough - then, if you think it is important at all - ask them to write it down. Seriously - if its not important - ignore them and walk away and don't give it another thought.
Mega1 has good suggestions re: telling people what to do to communicate with you. People probably don't have a clue how to react when they meet someone who have a significant hearing impairment, especially if the person with the hearing loss is younger. They're likely used to speaking loudly so one of their grandparents can hear them.
I'm deaf in one ear and usually have to ask people to talk in my other ear or switch positions when walking so they're on my hearing side. Even people who have known for years forget - even my Mom!
I think the same as a few other people here, and they think you can lip read. Not to mention the whole talking loud in a public place can be often seen as rude, and people are reluctant to do it.
My mother's cousin was born deaf, and in an era when being deaf limited his options. Not only that, he didn't develop speech because of his deafness. This often happened back then. He is an intelligent and determined man, though, and found other ways around these limitations.
He learned sign language, and to read lips, and held down a responsible job, and has his driver's license and has since he was old enough to get it. Needless to say, communication has always been his biggest issue. The way he got his point across, eventually, was with a simple writing pad and pen.
When people did not understand sign language, or his situation, he would simply produce the writing pad, and write his answer to whatever they were saying or, hand it to them so that they could write what they needed to say to him. I'm not saying this will work for you. But could there be another way you could signal the "stop! I still can't hear you." I'm thinking of something simple but which would gain their attention in ways that spoken words often don't.
Thanks again for all the responses and suggestions. I guess the bottom line is, it gets tiring to have to deal with it all the time.
Sometimes I'd like to wear a shirt that says "I'm a rude jerk so please don't ask me anything"!
Sometimes it just is better, IMO, to be blunt and seem rude than to do a dance all day long. Yes I've had many times when people thought I was rude because they said hi and I did not hear them.
But I'm not going to go up to everyone I come near and say "hey, if you say anything to me, I'm deaf so I can't hear you".
So sometimes you just got to ignore people. But most of the time I try to be understanding and get the message across. I know I am so, so glad I work at home by myself!!!
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