Sunday, August 7, 2011

Vowel Sounds

Greetings! It's been awhile and I have lots of things I want to write about. But, first, for my 20th blog post, a short story:

I'm going to try my hand at writing down stories I tell, so please give feedback as this doesn't come as naturally to me as telling the story.

Oftentimes, when I don't have enough information about an issue I care about, I tend to assume the worst. Personally, I don't like that I do this, but I do take some solace in the fact that I'm not the only human being who behaves this way...

Several years ago, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things on a Saturday afternoon. Preferring a computer screen to a human face, I decided to stand in line for the "Self Checkout" even though the line had two people waiting in front of me, and all of the Self Checkout kiosks were taken.
This was when the whole concept of "Self Checkout" was still new, so we all waited in line patiently for a few minutes as the people at the kiosks bumbled their way through the screens, the scanner, the scale and the payment process. Finally, after an agonizing 5 minutes, the furthest-most right kiosk opened up.
There were two women ahead of me, and the woman at the head of the line was perusing the covers of periodicals when the kiosk was vacated. She didn't notice, and we all patiently waited for all of 10 seconds before the other woman in front of me declared, "Ma'am, you can go now." The lady at the head of the line briefly looked up at her, smiled and continued to read the magazine covers.
Puzzled, myself, the woman in front of me, and the 3 or so people behind me all waited, watching her, wondering who of us, this group of people who went into this line to avoid human interaction in the first place, was going to speak up. Again, it was the second in-line in front of me, "Excuse me, miss. The terminal is free. You can use it." This time, the lady at the head of the line didn't acknowledge this statement at all, having grabbed a magazine on the rack to start fingering through.
And we waited. Nobody wanted to be rude and I had already started to sweat, nervously. Incredulous, the woman in front of me raised her voice to a level that was heard throughout the front of the store, "Hello?! Are you listening to me?!" Peoples' heads turned. Conversations between checkers and customers stopped. Blips and bleeps from grocery scanners were silenced. The elevator music continued.
The woman at the head of the line looked up from her magazine and turned her attention to the crazed lady behind her who continued, "The lane is open! We're all waiting for--"
And at the moment, the woman at the head of the line cut her off, frustrated, "I ant eah u," while motioning to her ears.
She was deaf.


  1. I can totally relate to that story because of my frustration with the early self-checkout days and also because of the disability angle. On the latter point, this reminds me of when I was visiting my family last year. I went out with my cousin and brothers to one of the two local bars. One of my brothers has cerebral palsy severe enough to seriously impede his speech among other things.

    As we entered the bar, we walked past a table of young guys, one of whom saw my brother and said something in what sounded to me over the din of the bar like the voice young assholes use to mock "retards". I shot him a serious "What the fuck is wrong with you?" look, in reply to which he pointed to himself, gave a "What's your problem?" look, and said something else in the same voice. I gave him a "Fuck you, you fucking piece of shit!" look and continued on to the bar area lest I punch him in his dick face.

    As we positioned ourselves to order drinks, my brother tells me, "That's my friend from high school. He's deaf."

    "Oh shit, I am such a fucking prick." I went back to the kid to apologize and explain how I had perceived the situation, about which he was, thankfully, totally understanding. His name was Tyler.

  2. Oh yeah, I also realized once my brother had clued me in that what the kid had said while pointing to himself after I gave him my first angry look was, "I'm deaf."

  3. Well, did she move to the kiosk or not?

    Nice! People amaze me in public places. Everyone's aversion to another resorts to just talk loud and rude, then yell. I don't know why its so difficult to simply tap the shoulder and say "kiosk is open" followed of course with the under-breath "Idiot!" There, done.

    It's a bit more impatient out Boston, that initial wait time is almost immediate and the polite "Mam" totally gets left out. Pretty much just goes from irritable to rude.

    Thanks for sharing that piece of uncomfortableness :)

  4. As far as feedback on the writing style, I thought it was great. I enjoyed the details you included (when the background noise stopped, except for the elevator music, etc.). Almost felt like I was there in line with you. A tip of the blog to you.