Tuesday 13 October 2015

Deaf Girly and The AA

I have been a member of the AA since 1977... three years before I was born.

When I passed my test in 1997, the rents put me on their membership until I finally got my own membership a few years later, which means for at least 15 years, I have been paying the AA a yearly fee to come and rescue me.

And they've been great. When I had my ancient Mini, I met more than my fair share of AA peeps – the exhaust fell off, the seal went on the oil something or other, the battery went flat and numerous other things occurred.

Then the AA brought out a text service (which honestly I have never really trusted) so that if I broke down I wouldn't have to struggle with making a call and I was happy to pay my yearly membership.

This year, for some reason, my auto-payment on my credit card didn't work. I wonder if it's because I had a new credit card issued by my bank and therefore they didn't have my correct details... who knows? But the first I knew about it was a letter informing me that this had happened.

So I tweeted the @TheAA_UK who gave me the customer service email address and I contacted them. Apparently payments cannot be made over email, which I guess is fair enough, but there was no other way for me to renew than to make a call. A bloody phone call. And if I couldn't, then I could get someone else to do it for me.

Now, I am MORE than used to getting people to make phone calls for me. I've had friends book all manner of personal appointments, renew insurance and everything else in between but I am getting a bit embarrassed about asking people...

So I didn't. And then I forgot about it for a while.

This morning, with half an hour to spare before work, I thought I'd contact The AA on live chat and ask them if there was any way (apart from calling) that I could renew my membership. There wasn't apparently – except for via a touch type phone, which I do not use – and also, because I'd left it so long, my membership could no longer be renewed. My bad for sulking about the need to make a phone call I guess... BUT ALSO THEIR BAD TOO, FOR MAKING THAT PHONE CALL NECESSARY IN THE FIRST PLACE!

So now I have no breakdown cover and I am faced with a more expensive fee if I rejoin the AA. So this lunchtime I am going to research the RAC – are they deaf aware? Or The Green Flag? What about them?

But I can't help but feel a bit sad – after all, I remember being so chuffed of my AA membership... of the friendly people who put my little Mini back together when she'd rattled herself apart on the bumpy roads around where I grew up.

And I can't help but feel, in a world where lots of other companies can do alternative ways of taking payments that perhaps the AA should step up and sort it out, too. Before they lose another loyal customer. Before they lose me...

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Deaf Girly's deaf week

I'm having a bit of a deaf week if I'm honest with you. And it's only Tuesday.


A deaf week for me is when I find myself being constantly reminded of my deafness. In the olden days these weeks would reduce me to a gibbering wreck on the sofa by Friday – holed up with my housemate watching Ally McBeal DVDs and lamenting my need for subtitles.

But these days, I just find myself wondering at or simply side-stepping the issue of me being deaf.

Yesterday of course, there was the Starbucks episode. The 'Pardon, pardon, pardon, NO I DON'T WANT KETCHUP WITH MARMITE, ARE YOU MAD?' event.
Deafness 1. DG 0.

But before that, I failed to mention that I had got up at 5.50am to try a new form of exercise – you see doing a HIT workout in prescription swimming goggles really isn't working out for me. This new exercise routine is downloadable off the internet and is circuit training. You don't need a scrap of hearing – it's all picture based. Brilliant eh?

Deafness 1. DG 1.

Well kind of. You see yesterday morning at 6.15am, halfway through and about to pass out from lack of breathing, FJM stumbled into the living room wondering where I was, and found me, mid step-up on the coffee table holding a 6kg weight. I didn't hear him until he started to laugh and then that scared me so much that I dropped the weight, forgot to breath and almost threw up on the living room floor. Brilliant that deafness of mine, eh?

Well not really. After all, what girl dreams of the man they adore finding her standing on a coffee table, red in the face, hair everywhere, holding his dumbbells (CLEAR OUT YOUR MINDS PEOPLE).

Deafness 2. DG 1.

Last night, neither of us could sleep. I wondered if it was because FJM was still traumatised from his discovery that morning. So he put a podcast on his phone and began to listen. I watched him press play. I knew there was a podcast playing. I could see him chuckling at something funny being said. But I heard nothing. And that made me sad. It reminded me of what I am missing out on. Of the information that hearing people can effortlessly access when they can't sleep, without the blue glow of their mobile phone screen feeding it to them. But then I remembered there is an alternative way of accessing information without a blue glow of a mobile phone screen, and I picked up a book.

Deafness 2. DG 2.

And then I fell asleep. For eight whole hours. And looking back on yesterday, yes, there were loads of ways my deafness kicked my butt and I am sure there will be many more times when I am mortifyingly embarrassed by my deafness. Like the time, my iPad – unbeknown to me – started blaring out Taylor Swift on the tube and an enraged man had to ask me to turn it down. Or the time I thought a shop assistant was asking me if I wanted a bag so I kept saying no and in fact she was asking me to enter my pin – thank goodness for contactless eh?

But I will keep finding ways to kick it right back, because my deafness is going to work with me whether it likes it or not.

Happy Tuesday peeps


Monday 5 October 2015

Deaf Girly in Starbucks

This morning I was reminded embarrassingly of my deafness when, as a special treat, I decided to get a toasted Cheese and Marmite panini before work.

With Starbucks, I always try to pass the Denny's test when giving my order (you know the one where you have to get your entire order through without the waitress asking any qualifying questions) and usually I do well. I make sure if I'm ordering a drink I give the size, clarify that I won't want any bells and whistles and that I don't want anything else. It's a self preservation thing – I find it so hard to hear in Starbucks, Pret, Itsu and all the other breakfast and lunch places in central London.

So today I thought would be relatively straight forward. After all, it was a Cheese and Marmite panini to take away, no hot drinks. But apparently not.

The woman behind the counter asked me something. She asked it again. And again and again. She was embarrassed. I was embarrassed. The information I gave her about being hard of hearing fell on deaf ears. The situation was too far gone to salvage.

Eventually after leaning my head between the till and the counter in such a way that had I been in a bank, I would have set alarms off and been carted away, I managed to grasp that she was asking me whether I wanted Ketchup or brown sauce with my Cheese and Marmite panini.

Never in a million years would I have guessed she was going to ask me that, because ketchup or brown sauce with cheese and marmite seems to categorically wrong that I simply can't envisage it. And that's coming from someone that eats baked beans on lettuce and adds salad cream to practically everything.

Failing the Denny's test was a stark reminder that I am deaf. And while most of the time I can wing it, some days, like today, I fail spectacularly. But just incase, from now on I am going to add that to my Starbucks order.

'Cheese and marmite panini please. Toasted. To take away. No ketchup or brown sauce (no I'm not crazy). No hot or cold drinks. No receipt. Thank you.'

I'll let you know how I get on.

Happy Monday peeps.


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