As my readers may recall, I am able to hear with the assistance of a hearing aid, though I don’t always hear everything, which I’ll talk about in a future post. I’m also able to talk with no issues, thanks to speech therapy that I had to go through since I was 2 years old. I hated speech therapy then, but grateful for it now as I’m able to conduct every day business with hearing people with little issues such as ordering food in a restaurant, buying a car, shopping, etc.
I decided to try an experiment and try going about my day’s business with my hearing aid turned off and not using my voice at all. I would communicate via notepad and pen, my phone, and what little sign language that I do know,. Basically, I was deaf-mute for a day.
I did not want to have to explain to people I know why I’m doing this if I tried going about my business in my home area of Marinette, WI and Menominee, MI, so I went to Green Bay, WI to run my errands. Green Bay has a deaf community so I fgure people might be more understanding there anyways.
I first stopped at a bar & grill called Shoot’s Bar on the outskirts of Green Bay. My friend Dawg, who I shoot darts with on my Monday night darts league, swears they have the best cheeseburgers ever. So I went over there. I took a seat at the bar, took out my notepad and wrote “Pepsi”, then “Menu” on it. The bartender came up to me and I pointed to “Pepsi” on the notepad and she went got the Pepsi. As she handed me the Pepsi, I read her lips as she said, “You can’t hear, can you?”
I shook my head, no. She held up a finger as if to say, wait a moment, and she went back to the bar to write something down, then brought me the paper with what she wrote. It said, “Today’s special – Cheeseburger With Fries – $7.50.”. I pointed to what she wrote and nodded my head, yes. She smiled and put it on her notepad and handed it to the cook.
A few minutes later, I got my cheeseburger with the fries. It was about a 1/3 pound cheeseburger, very thick and juicy. I took my first bite into it and fell in love with it right away. My god, it was so good. The fries were pretty good too. The bartender always checked to make sure how I was doing and I would give her a thumbs up. She made sure to keep my Pepsi refilled.
After I finished my meal, she brought my check. I paid for my meal, left her a more than generous tip, signed “Thank you” and left the bar. I was happy that she recognized that I was deaf right away. So that worked out well.
My next test is buying a car. While I’m not quite ready to buy a new vehicle just yet, I wanted to see how a car salesman would interact with a deaf person. Since I’m a GM guy, I went to Bergstrom Auto in Green Bay on Taylor Street. While Bergstrom has several locations in the Fox Valley dealing with all makes and models of vehicles, this specific location has GM cars for sale such as Buicks, Pontiacs, Chevys, etc.
I pulled up and a salesman came out of the building. I signed to the salesman that I’m deaf and he recognized that right away. I wrote down on the notepad that I was looking for a GMC Sonoma or a Chevy S-10. He took the notepad and wrote that they didn’t have those trucks at this particular location, but they might at another location. We went to his office where we had no issues communicating back and forth writing on a note pad. He was very patient with me. I was very impressed that he was willing to communicate with me and I got the feeling that he’s dealt with deaf customers in the past. He couldn’t find a truck that I liked, but that’s ok. I wasn’t ready to get one just yet anyways. While I didn’t get a vehicle, I did walk away happy that he was more than willing to communicate with me via pen and notepad. Once again, another business passed the test in dealing with my non-verbal communications.
Next, I went to Shopko as I needed a belt. It was a routine stop where I got the belt, took it to the register, paid for it, and walked out. No problems there as I don’t normally talk with the cashier anyways even when I’m verbal.
I then went to a bar called D2’s Sports Pub. I’m shooting in a dart tournament there in two weeks, so I thought I’d check it out. Before I went in, I downloaded a photo of a bottle of Miller Lite to my phone. I showed the photo to the bartender. She was more than happy to get me the beer. I paid for it, then went to shoot a few darts. I went back to the bar, gave the bartender the empty beer bottle, a $1 tip, signed “thank you” and left. While my interaction with the bartender was minimal, I felt it was still a positive experience. No issues here.
That was my last stop on my day of being deaf and mute. It was a bit eye opening having to leave my hearing aid off pretty much all day and not being able to speak. I finally turned on my hearing aid once I came to my hometown and spoke for the first time getting food at a local burger joint.
The experiment went well. I’ll probably do this again, but in a different town that doesn’t have a deaf community and see what happens there. I know there is more to living in every day life as a deaf-mute person such as going to the doctor. But I know it is still a challenge living as a deaf-mute person and I’m looking forward to doing this experiment again and bring awareness to what deaf people go through every day.
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Until then, stay tuned 🙂