On Tuesday, I did the goofiest thing I’ve done in a long time: I got my hearing tested. I got something I don’t have tested. To help you imagine the level of ridiculous this was:
“Read this eye chart using the eyes at the back of your head.”
“But I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.”
September is Deaf Awareness Month. Last year, I wrote about the awkward questions hearing people frequently ask deaf people.
This year, I wondered whether I’d have anything to add to what’s already been put out there. It’s not yet October, but already, fun-sized treats are on the grocery store shelves. What can I share about deafness before everybody can go back to being unaware of the existence of deaf people?
Over the past three weeks, the message that has been put out by other members of the deaf community has pretty much been: “Totally deaf people are so rare, so we might as well pretend they don’t exist.”
Passengers of the 7pm Wednesday sailing from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen were treated to a spectacle. People rose from their seats and flocked to the front of the boat. I happened to be seated at the front, so I took the cue and got up for a better look. It was a beautiful sight, the sun was shining, and the boat was squeezing in-between the Southern Gulf Islands. A lone crew member was on the deck, resting his arms on the railing, but I was fairly sure he wasn’t meant to be the spectacle.
Some of the passengers migrated to the starboard windows while others returned to their seats. Curious about what had just happened, I tapped a message on my phone and showed it to the woman seated across from me, “I am deaf, I have noooooo idea what just happened.”
Since entering my 30s, I’ve learned how to receive compliments. I have also learned that compliments are often used by men as bait to get women talking to them. For some, paying a compliment entitles them to a woman’s attention.
A plus of being deaf (as deaf as I am, anyway) is being blissfully ignorant of any catcalls that are sounded my way. For these volunteering their opinions about me out loud, not getting any reaction out of me must be maddening. It’s glorious.
On occasion, some bozo tries to override my inability to hear by following me.
I’ve been in Victoria for five months, and it’s already happened three times. Most recently, I was sitting on a bench scrolling through social media, getting annoyed with people on the internet, when I noticed a shadow cast over me.
Yesterday I posted a series of signed Stories on Instagram. I did this for two reasons: to give hearing people a taste of what it’s like to be singled out.
Mostly, I did it because, given the context, it was more appropriate to explain in sign language.
Since moving back to BC, I had been putting off getting on the waitlist for a family doctor knowing the outcome was likely to be upsetting.
Imagine the year is 2019: You’re at a real estate office with a friend to inquire about purchasing farmland with the intention of growing pre-pickled vegetables. (This would be done by irrigating crop with vinegar instead of water.)
You ask the realtor some questions. Rather than answer you, the realtor pulls your friend aside and whispers in their ear. The realtor works in a polite smile but gives you nothing more than that.
Once the meeting has ended, your friend relays all the realtor’s answers to you (“No, you can’t pay the mortgage in pickled vegetables.”) Your friend also tells you about the mortgage plan they’ve agreed upon without your input. Although you trust your friend to make the right decision, you can’t help but be wary of the realtor and remark to your friend that you found it unsettling how the realtor ignored you.
THEN! Your friend defends the realtor’s behaviour. Your friend asserts to you that the realtor was professional and rationalizes you being left out of a conversation about something that affects you. In other words, “Shh, the adults are talking.”