My deaf friends and I are always sharing "Can you believe this guy?" stories. My own go-to story is about something that happened to me when I was in the hospital following the surgery that took the last of my hearing. We planned ahead by buying a small white board and stocking up on dry erase markers. One day a young resident came in early, before any of my family was there, to give me a check over. I very cheerfully said "I'm deaf now so you're going to have to use that dry erase board (pointing to where it was) so I can understand you." He walked over, picked it up, walked back and... handed it to me. Ummmm, yeah. No. He was suitably embarassed when I gave it back to him. (And it was very early in the morning.) But most of our stories aren't quite so ha-ha, more along the lines of WTF?! And it can get very discouraging. Lately, instead of focusing on the bad, I'm trying to see on the good. So here are a couple "Can you believe... how great they are?!" stories. ;)
Back in April, when I bought my car, my husband ordered personalized license plates for me. We decided on holding off to pay for permanent tags in case the plates came in before the temps expired. The Friday before Memorial Day, at roughly 4:35 pm, I realized that the temps were dated to expire on that Sunday. I raced around gathering everything I thought I'd need and headed up to the license office closest to me; walked in at 4:55. No line, thankfully, so I headed straight up to the counter. The woman who was helping me was SO friendly. She was great about writing everything down for me (since I have trouble lip reading strangers). Then came the problem. She needed access to the personal property taxes I've paid in the past and couldn't find them. (I had left out a very important word it seems, "unincorporated." Who knew?). I offered to just wait until Tuesday and try to find the copies at home so she could start her holiday weekend but she wouldn't hear of it. It took us about 15 more minutes to realize why we couldn't find what we were looking for and she was all smiles the entire time. I mean, this was the DMV?! And I have nothing but good things to say about the experience.
Recently I've started venturing through drive thrus again. I'm sure I don't have to explain why they are problematic for me. I typically will only pull up if there is no one else in line. (Especially if there are two or more rows. How in the heck am I supposed to know when it's my turn?!) I'll pull up, wait several seconds, then say "I'm deaf so I'm going to pull to the window to place my order." Or, if someone pulls up immediately behind me, I say "I'm deaf so I'm going to place my order here, repeat it once, then pull around for any questions." It works remarkably well. I've never had any problems and the cashiers usually go out of their way to make sure they understood me, and that I understand them. (In these cases credit cards are our friends so that you never give them too little monies. Because that's just embarassing.) But a recent trip through a Hardees drive thru tops them all. Not only was she very helpful but when someone pulled up behind me before my order was ready, instead of having me pull forward, she just went out the door and helped them at their car! And she gave extra napkins which always earns a :) in my book.
Speaking of fast food places, Chick-fil-a is my hands down favorite deaf friendly place to go. Because they are "family friendly" and spiritually oriented, I've found that the employees there really will go that extra mile to insure you have a good visit. I've had managers help carry my take out to my car; employees carry my tray to a table for me; they ALWAYS, no matter how busy they are, make sure to motion to me instead of calling my name when my order is ready. And the food is so good. I've never gotten bad food or a messed up order there. They're just fabulous. ;)
Those are just a few examples. I've had police officers write things down for me (and I don't mean a ticket!), strangers "interpret" for other strangers that I just could not understand, people stop to help me when I'm having difficulty walking over uneven ground or climbing stairs. I even had a drive up bank teller carry on a conversation with me once by holding up large, hand written signs to the window so I could read them. Sure, not everyone is as nice or helpful, but more people are than you realize, if you just let yourself see them.