I recently went to a Barnes and Noble, seeking ASL books, to help bolster my study of Sign. I walked into what is easily my favorite big box store, and approached the information desk. “Can I help you?” asked the woman in the kiosk.
“Yes,” I responded. “Do you have an ASL section?”
“ASL?” she looked at me quizzically. Realizing that in our modern alphabet soup world, ASL could mean anything from Anti-Soviet Literature to Arctic Singing Leopards, I answered with, “American Sign Language.”
“Oh!” Her voice increased by about 6 dB, and she began pointing exaggeratedly. “Go up those stairs. Those stairs right there. Go up those stairs…”
“I can hear you, you know?”
The poor woman blushed, crimson, and began tripping over herself, attempting an apology.
I realized, from this experience, how possible it would have been for me, as little as about a year ago, to create this same social faux pas. I don’t think this woman bore any malice towards the Deaf. I merely think she – like most Hearies – had no idea how to interact with Deaf people, or any understanding of why a non-Deaf individual would be interested in learning Sign.
But – and this is what is even more surprising – I found myself feeling complimented by her mistake. Instead of being angry with her, for mistaking me for Deaf – I was actually quite pleased with myself. What’s that tell ya?
I’m reminded of the skit by Dave Chappelle, regarding a blind Black man, raised as White, who becomes a leader of the White Supremacist movement. At one point in this absolutely hilarious bit, this blind racist is in a car, waiting at a light. Some young White kids pull up next to him, with Rap music blaring from their car stereo. Chappelle’s character starts railing and cussing at them, telling them to turn off that “damn race music.” The light turns green, and Chappelle’s car takes off, leaving the car with the kids, still sitting there. One kid turns to the other and says, “Did he just call us niggers? Awesome!”
BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.
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