May 9, 2014

Silent Dinner

If you remember my “Drive Through” entry a few years ago then you are going to love this entry.

This past week I went out to dinner with a friend and we learned a lot on how people react to situations. That night she and I decided to have a Silent Dinner. She and I both know ASL (American Sign Language) and once we walked into the restaurant we turned our voices off and signed full-time. We did not want to make it too difficult for the waitress so we decided that whoever used their voice first would have to voice the other person for the night.

(Keep in mind one thing: I am the deaf one and my friend is hearing.)

The waitress came up and asked how we are doing. Just out of habit I opened my mouth and said “We are doing great, thank you.” My friend smiled really big and I realized that I am going to have to be the one to voice her. We started looking at the menu and my friend signed to me what she wanted and got ready for when the waitress came back. The waitress came back but did not remember that, my friend was “not able to hear”. The waitress looks down at her pad avoiding eye contact and asks “What can I get you?” a few awkward moments passed, as no response. She looks up to see my friend signing to me what she wanted. I looked up and said, “Oh, she would like…” The waitress squared her shoulder and started actually making eye contact and took our order. Everyone else in the restaurant now knows about the “two people OVER there."

Our food came out and as we ate we could feel the eyes of others watch our every move. They all didn't know that my friend can actually hear perfectly. She would often sign to me saying, “Did you hear what they said?” The waitress comes back to check on us and ask if we needed anything. She completely ignores my friend and I said, “Yeah, we need more napkins.” She left and we waited. She came back and said “Sorry, it took me so long I was at the register.” The funny part was when she was trying to sign “Register”. She puts her fingers out like she is typing on a keyboard and with a louder tone and opens her mouth really big says, “Register”. She left and I almost died laughing, as I have never seen anything like that.

The night continued on and we held all of our conversations in ASL. It was awesome! We wish we could have filmed our experience. Through the night I noticed & re-learned a few things that I felt to share.

One: Don’t be afraid to make eye contact. The waitress kept looking down at her pad not being fully aware of her surroundings. How often do we look down and not take the time to look up and see our surroundings?

Two: If you do run into people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There is no need to all the sudden to raise your voice, unless the person asks you to do so. When I take my Cochlear Implants off it is funny when my brothers tell people that I can’t hear. So the person starts talking really loud. My brothers then have to clarify “No, he can’t hear you AT ALL!” The person then goes “Oh” followed with awkward pause. So, be sure to ask if they would like you to speak up. It is not so much the loudness but the pace of the way you speak. But don’t be like “HOOOWWW ARRREEE YOOOUUU DOOIINNNGGG?” That makes it sound like your talking to a child. So find your middle ground. If you are deaf or struggle with your hearing here is my advice for you: Let people know if you need them to speak louder or repeat things. Don’t worry about what people say or think. In this day and age we are becoming too impatient with one another. We like things fast and easy. Communication, good communication, takes time and effort. When I see someone look really annoyed by me asking them to repeat something I tend to just simply act like I understand but in reality I did not. Body Language is powerful and we often don’t see what we do each day.

Three: Don’t open your mouth so big when you speak---the air is not that big to grasp. When people do that I find it harder to read their lips. But, don’t mumble your words or you will get a confused look on my face. In today’s world we are becoming too lazy in the way we speak. Remember, good communication takes time and effort.

I hope you learned something today and please like my new facebook page today for more updates!