Monday 5 October 2009

Afraid of hearing the answer

OK, so it’s Monday morning, it’s dark and cold outside and I am zooming back to London on a train for another week of work. The Rents live close enough to London that trains in the morning are usually rammed with commuters, and for this reason, I often pay a mere £8 more for a first class single ticket.

This morning I was early for my usual train and there on the platform was a Virgin train, which was running late – anyone surprised by this news? Anyway, it’s a fast and speedy, non-stopping train to London so I jumped on it immediately, made my way to first class, and WOW!

This first class is very different from the first class on the little commuter trains I normally get when I am home for the weekend. You get free stuff, and a massive seat, and there are individual lights on the table like in an American diner, and I am the only girl in here – it’s most surreal. Better still, there's free internet for Pinktop - whoop!

But what I am finding difficult is obtaining any other free stuff – you see the lovely people in here serving tea, coffee and breakfast are whispering. They tiptoe up and down the aisle saying things I cannot hear and as I have my nose in my laptop I keep missing them. So far, two trays of bacon rolls have breezed past, the two men in front of me not showing any interest, so I have no clue if you have to ask for one, put your hand up as though you are at school, if you need to order, or if I simply don’t look rich enough to be here as when I tried to make eye contact with one of the ladies, she ignored me.

I’m hungry!

I don’t think I can really get the sandwich bag out that I stuffed two pieces of bread in, before I left The Rents, and eat that either – people would definitely wonder what on earth I was doing in First Class then!

Oop, update, I am now sipping black coffee, because I lipread it as ‘Would you like a tea?’ – it’s strong and nice and in about 20 minutes I am going to get a caffeine high like no other…


It’s frustrating though, I need to work on my confidence in situations like this and be more proactive – I should be able to say to a lady walking past with bacon sandwiches, ‘Can I have one?’ and not be afraid of her saying, ‘No!’ because after all, ‘no’ is just a word, and as I am sat in this fancy carriage legitimately, it’s highly likely that she wouldn’t say ‘No!’

I’ve always been like this though, even before I went really deaf – I’ve always been timid about asking for things – and when I do, I normally end up apologizing for asking in a very British manner and then it gets cringesome and I wish I had never asked.

There’s also another situation where I am afraid to ask, and that is where I already know the answer. You see, I can read body language incredibly well, which is not always a good thing. I often never need to ask the question, ‘Are you mad at me,’ because it’s blatantly obvious to me that the person is very mad at me. But it goes deeper than that – it’s horrible when you know someone is feeling something but not telling you and you can’t ask them because you’re too afraid to hear the answer, so you just go on pretending you don’t know until they eventually pluck up the courage to tell you.

I hate that.

So, while I am here, in first class, I am going to make a pact with myself – to ask questions when I want to, to not be afraid of the answer and to live my life unapologetically – except where I really stuff up and an apology is the only answer.

I am not sorry for being deaf, for needing to ask more questions, or the apparent invasion of privacy my ability to read body language brings. I am not sorry for being me.

Now , where’s that bacon roll?


Anonymous said...

good morning DG,

I hope your weekend was relaxing and fun.

Your comments on the Virgin Train serive is very interesting. I have been speaking to the person within Virgin Trains who is responsible for all access for people with disabilities on their trains, and I will write to him drawing your comments to his attention.

He is very aware of deafness and the use of hearing loops (the area I was speaking to him about) but equally for members of our siciety who Deaf or even many people who really could do with the help of a hearing aid but have not yet gone down that route. There are many ways a business can ensure they do not omit a customer with a little more attention to the way they present themselves, without the deaf or hard of hearing person having to draw there deafness to the attention of all those around them.

Well enough of my ranting, the chap in Virgin is Mr Chris Hagyard, and he is based mainly in Birmingham, but also spends a far amount of time in London too.

he many not contact you, but I thought I would let you know that I was writing to him, so if he gets in touch you will know why.

best wishes


Me said...

Thanks Chris, that's excellent news.
I was on the whole very happy with Virgin – although I never did get my bacon roll. I totally understand that one of the bonuses about 1st class is it's quiet – but it would be great if there was some way to hear what was going on – or just have some idea of the 1st class ettiquette!! teehee! I'm sure those bacon rolls were free – now I just have to work out how to get them!
Hope all's well with you.

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