I am deaf. I am at Starbucks. I want to order coffee. I have to do it on paper rather than out loud because I speak so poorly, I don’t like to try. I intend to write it down and show it to the barrista, but I am nervous. I don’t know if I am more nervous because I am not really deaf and I feel guilty or because I am different from the other customers and I will be labeled as disabled. I am not looking forward to placing my order. I order a medium decaf coffee by holding up a notebook with the phrase “Medium Decaf Coffee, Please.” The young man at the counter does a quick transformation from a confident good looking guy to a bumbling embarrassed guy. He says,” yes sir” three or four times. He spends a long time giving change from a five dollar bill for a coffee. Then, he hands me $4.27. (The bill was $1.73) He seems hesitant and confused, and I’m thinking that he’s too worried about hurting my feelings to reconsider if he has the correct change. I shake my head: “no.” He goes thru an explanation (that makes absolutely no sense) of why it is the correct change. Then, he hands it back to me, and I again shake my head: “no.” He then thinks a second, and he gives me $2.27 change, shorting me a dollar, and then as an afterthought he finally corrects it and gives me the right change. He is clearly addled. And I feel bad for causing him anxiety, especially since it is all a drama for the paper. But, I am trying to maintain my position as a deaf man. I am trying not to respond to sound stimuli. There’s no crime in looking though—for a deaf man. In fact, I enjoyed a heightened sense of sight as I drove without radio accompaniment in my car. I am not talking to anybody. And if they are talking to me, I am avoiding their eyes because I am so busy looking at the words coming out of their mouths. Though I am a bit excited by my isolation, I am also of course, just plain lonely to be so apart from others and their community.
I notice I have a message on my cell phone, and I am not supposed to answer it, because I am not able to answer it at this time. I answer it anyway thinking it may be someone I love or it may be someone I work with that will give me money. I am so fortunate to be able to communicate by cell phone with such ease when my alter ego that is deaf is unable to do so. In fact, my alter ego can us...
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...fic and up the driveway of the parking lot on the other side of the street. As he makes his way across I think of going to him and asking him out, and how that would infuriate my boyfriend. I think of how confident he is and how skilled and strong. I think of how able he is. And I remember how I was feeling at Starbuck’s knowing that the cashier was trying so hard not to hurt my feelings, because he was apparently certain how sensitive I would be to social discomfort regarding my condition of deafness. I felt offended and hurt and disappointed that the cashier did not recognize my talents. I’m deaf but I’m still an astrologer, numerologer, massage therapist, meditation instructor, teacher, and businessman. I am a well rounded person with an added dimension due to my lack of hearing. I have perspectives that come to me entirely from my deafness that no one but a deaf person can access. Will he recognize my strengths? Will he recognize my completeness, my wholeness, the synthesis of all my individual parts? Right now he doesn’t. These are the things I thought of as I watched that attractive man make his way across the street, while I wished that I was trotting along beside him.
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