Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Light Side of My Right Side

"I'm deaf in my right ear." I have made that statement many times throughout my life. It's matter-of-fact. "Hearing aids won't help and surgery won't help. It's not a handicap." That's how I was brought up to think. The only accomodation I ever had was getting to sit on the right side in the back seat of the car, or at a table. I never really realized how adamant I was about that privilege until one rainy day...

Several years ago, my husband's boss invited us to attend a major league baseball game with his wife and him. Bearing our umbrellas, we met them going in, and we all walked to our four seats. I then began to tell everyone where to sit. After we all sat down, I told them why I had wanted us to sit this particular way. And then Ed's boss' wife told me: She, too, is deaf in her right ear. Oh, how I laughed later about the fact that I had told Ed's boss where to sit! ...and when his wife has the same condition I do.

You might think I would have learned something from that experience. But guess what happened this past weekend?? (smile). This time we were at a dinner and we invited a couple to sit with us. The four of us walked over to the table, and began to play a funny little game of musical chairs. We finally got settled...just the way I wanted. And then I popped my explanation. I'm sure you've guessed it by now: the other lady was deaf in her right ear also!

So, what do I do now? When we are going with someone I don't know real well, maybe I should say, "I'm deaf in my right ear. Are you?" (Laugh).

I also wish that I could have gotten a picture of the facial expression of a customer of mine at the store one day. While her receipt was printing, another cashier said something to me. She was to my right, so I turned my back to the customer to hear what the other cashier said. I then circled all the way to my right, back to face the customer, having now turned in a full circle. Deciding that some explanation was due, I said, "I'm deaf in my right ear, so I had to turn to hear what the other associate was saying to me." The customer had such a look of sudden comprehension and relief to her unspoken question of why this middle-aged cashier was spinning circles before her eyes.

Now, if you're ever with me and I make a totally inappropriate response to something you say, here's a clue: I probably didn't hear you and made up something to replace what I didn't hear! Do I do this on purpose? Absolutely not. I first noticed this with an aunt who could hear very little. I remember the time that she reported to someone after a family gathering that we were all having an argument and unhappy with one another, and that we had also said she was a nuisance. Nope. Animated, maybe, but no argument. And we hadn't said anything about her at all. We hadn't assumed that she couldn't hear what we said, so we could talk about her...nor did we have any reason to want to talk about her. However, it was an eye-opener for me. I began to realize that I "make things up" sometimes. I wish I could say I don't do that anymore. But I do. And not long ago I came up to a couple of people talking, and asked if they were talking about me! They said "yes" facetiously, and then said no, and explained what they had been talking about.

So, if you see someone doing gymnastics to get a certain chair or side, they might be hard of hearing. Or if someone is responding incorrectly, perhaps they didn't hear you. Like another lady I was talking to later on at that dinner last weekend. I was talking to her and her daughter, and she made a suggestion which was totally inappropriate to what I had said. I thought, "Were you listening to what I said?" And then I remembered that she, too, is deaf in one ear. The "duh" was on me! (smile)

1 comment:

Chris said...

Hi, I'm her sister and have known her all her life. In case you are out with her and she decides NOT to play musical chairs with you or tell you where to sit (smile), this is the only way I could ever remember which side was which. Whichever side of her you are looking at, think the opposite. Right is wrong and left is right. The right side of her would be wrong to sit on, and the left side would be right.