Thursday 25 March 2010

Lipreading silent letters

You must excuse me, my cheeks are still glowing a warm shade of red from an embarrassing episode in Pret a Manger this morning.

There I was, buying my banana and sparkling water and after the 10th pardon, still with no clue what the man behind the till was saying to me.


It’s a noisy place, to be fair, but even my lipreading skills were no help, because in this instance, it turns out he was pronouncing a letter that’s usually silent – and this letter was the ‘p’ in receipt.

This ‘p’ and closure of his lips in the pattern of this word completely threw me. I had no clue what he was saying.

I looked to his colleague, who also seemed to pronounce the ‘p’, which was no help and eventually he gave up and said – do you want the paper thing?

Hurrah! Now I knew what was going on… but by this stage I was a gibbering, stammering, embarrassed ball of blondeness and he was pretty baffled, too.

‘I’m deaf,’ I reassured him – desperate for him not to think it was his English that was the problem – although it kind of was, but I don’t think he understood me.

So I grabbed my stuff and legged it – still red – to work.

It’s a long time since my lipreading skills let me down – I’m normally too on the ball, nosily reading people’s conversations in bars and restaurants, or from my bus in a traffic jam.

The other day I witnessed THE BEST fight between a couple – I think tourists – who were lost on Oxford Street. The guy had his back to me, so I was treated to a one-sided conversation as the girl ranted and raved about the fact that he didn’t know know where they were. It was getting so heated that I almost felt like getting off the bus and telling them where they were, just so she’d stop going mental at him.

Tomorrow, when I go into Pret, I am going to be on ‘p’ alert – or maybe I’ll just buy my banana from Somerfield like everyone else.


SpeakUp Librarian said...

I get tripped up frequently when a cashier asks an unexpected question when I'm reaching into my purse and not looking at him/her.
"Do you want the paper thing?" - hilarious.

mervynjames224 said...

I stopped going to a number of shops e.g. like fast food ones, or coffee shops which I won't go near. Always, I go in with a set choice of what I want (All deafies make sure first don't we !), I'd ask for Burger for my son, and then get subjected to do you want (Unintelligible)< this with it,. or again unintleoiigible that with it, in the ends I usually say forget it.

Coffee shops I only ever went in one ! they are awful places for the deaf, you get some service worker going through the entire range of coffees, additions to them and it takes forever. They haven't got the message yet, Brits drink TEA or, instant coffee lol So I don't go, or I'd end up with half the shop to pay for.

Clothes shops are as bad I'd go in for a pair of socks or something and they would start rambling on about loyalty cards and god knows what else, I'd end up talking VERY slowly to them "I.......JUST....WANT....THESE....SOCKS...NOTHING.... ELSE !" Often they would launch into "what payment preference have you ?" Cash ? card ?" completely blind to the fact I am holding cash i my hands so its pretty obvious ! I Leave my partner to shop now, I can't be bothered !

Anonymous said...

I've had similar experiences. The worst was a computer "assistant" that I called for help a few years back--I usually can understand folks on the phone, but this guy had such a THICK accent, I could not understand him. I hate appearing racist, but I ended up asking for a native English speaker...I apologized and said I was hoh and that I just couldn't understand him... how do you handle this f2f or phone?

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