It’s come to my attention that as a deaf traveller, I may have unwittingly annoyed my fellow travellers in many ways.
1. The Flying Ear Wax
Even I’m slightly grossed out by this! Simply, maintenance of your hearing aid is an incredibly important process in my everyday life. Particularly more so, travelling on the road that will cause the hearing aid to be battered every now and again. One small duty of hearing aid maintenance is simply clearing the ear tube that threads from the hearing aid to the ear mould of ear wax. It builds up quite quickly you see. The ear mould doesn’t allow the ear to be open to air so creates a moist environment where wax will quickly spread. (I know, sounds like something from a horror movie!) the ear wax is pressed into the tube thus distorting sound, so how do I clear the wax from my ear tube?
I’m sorry to say this but I disconnect the tube and blow the ear wax out from the other end of the tube. Simple enough. However, just recently I began to think, where does the flying ear wax land? I shudder to think. But looking back, I realised I had been doing this on buses, trains, hostel common rooms, literally everywhere. So if you found a blob of greeny yellow sticky material in your hair or on your food, that was me. I’m sorry. But don’t worry, it does taste nice!
2) The Accidental Flirt
‘You do know that I just want to be friends, right?’ A recent new travel buddy pressed upon me with alarm as he sat back in his seat. Huh? Where did that come about? I snapped out if my concentration of trying to hear him and took stock of my actions and what I must have said. I didn’t say anything that may be misconstrued as flirting and looked at myself…bingo. Here I was, reached over the table to get close to his face as possible in order to hear him that may look like I was trying to lean over to kiss him. Not only that, as the music was pounding away in the background of the bar, I relied mostly on lip-reading. This meant that my eyes was locked on to his lips which is a flirting technique apparently. Normally hearing people look around the face – eyes, lips, mole on the cheek or perhaps simply look anywhere other than the face. I was a lips man. With my dark brooding staring eyes on those lips, I can see why it must have been unsettling sometimes. It also didn’t help that with the strain of lip-reading, I was biting my lip which must have signalled to him ‘I want you on the table, right now!’
Sorry, I know I’m a massive flirt, but if there’s one thing I don’t do, is accidentally flirt.
3) The Psychic Answers
Every now and again, I sometimes have to stop you mid-speech and repeat yourself again. Pretty standard for some conversations that my friends would think. But they start smelling a rat when I don’t do this for a long time and wise up to the act that I have been unwittingly doing when conversations go past without any interruptions from me and I seem to clearly understand EVERYTHING they are asking me. So what’s this sneaky act?
The psychic answers. Or to put this way, I answer correctly without any listening from my part. This normally happens when I meet new people who I’m not used to speaking with and I don’t want to/can’t be bothered to talk about deaf awareness or convey that I’m can’t carry a decent conversation at first. More and more people are starting to realise this becoming annoyed but there are a few situations I can get away with.
So how am I able to correctly answer/reply you without listening to you?
Well, taking into account millions of conversations within thousands of situations, I can judge the likely hood of what you are going to say and answer accordingly. That’s a skill. But it doesn’t always work. You may have said something new in a new situation and I’m at a loss and simply work off your face expression if you have one and I could get away with it. But I may not as you would look at me incredulously and I would have to admit defeat that I wasn’t really listening. Or I simply lose concentration and forget where I am in the conversation and answer completely wrong, sometimes with hilarious consequences. Case in point:
Staff: Put your card in for me please
Ed: Yeah (sees creme eggs on sale and quivers with excitement)
Staff: Now put in your PIN Number
Ed: Doing so (thinks I’m so tired, maybe a creme egg will wake me up. I’m thinking about this way too hard)
Staff: Now can you pull out your card
Ed: (whilst still thinking about how I would eat my Creme Egg) No.
Ed: (I look up, startled by the pardon, and smile) No, thank you.
Staff: Well, you have to.
Ed: (Now, I’m thinking, isn’t he forceful?!) No, I don’t want to.
Staff: You need to. I can’t serve the other customers behind you.
Ed: (looks over shoulder and sees an irate woman glaring at me.) Wait, am I missing something here?
Staff: (says exasperatingly to me and points at the card) You need to take your card out!
Ed: (realization falls on me) Oh! I thought you were wanted to give me the receipt! I’m sorry. I wasn’t listening. I was too busy thinking.
(a loud harrumph comes from the increasingly irate woman behind me, yet I don’t move as I lick my lips).
Ed: How much for a Creme Egg?
The moral of the story, I have predetermined answers for judged situations. I shouldn’t be trusted what I say
4. ‘Excuse me, I’m Deaf’
Playing the deaf card is something I enjoy doing much to the annoyance of other travellers. I use it to get out of situations, use it as an excuse to get out of things and definitely use it to get benefits. So what benefits could I get? Sometimes, free entry to attractions, sometimes free travel and sometimes get a free drink. After triumphantly achieving this, my hearing travel friends would look at me darkly while they have to pay full price for everything.
However, lately, my friends have said I annoy them because I embarrass them when I cannot get the discount or free entry and I stand my ground. ‘Excuse me, I’m deaf!’ And argue with the seller in question. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not.
5. The Superpower of Lip-reading
Beware travellers! I shall know your deepest darkest secrets in a hotbed if guilt and shame…or I’ll know what your travel plans are.
Lip-reading is a skill I use on a daily basis whether intentionally or unintentionally. I could read your lips as you speak to me about your trip from Hue to Hanoi, or I could read your lips from afar as you gossip privately with another friend how drop dead gorgeous I am to be travelling with her. Sometimes, I forget it was a private conversation and mention it in passing later on much to the alarm and annoyance of the other person. Oops. Come on, I want to know even further how outrageously attractive I am. But that’s besides the point.
6. The Eternal Sleeper
In a large hostel dorm in the blackness of night, you’re so tired from travelling two days to see The scary Kong Lo Cave, and you just want to sleep. You can’t. There’s about three people snoring their head off enough to bring a grumpy bear out of hibernation. You stare around bleakly and your eyes rest upon my sleeping face, blissful and not a care in the world. With pent-up rage, you simply want to drop your 30kg backpack on my unsuspecting face. So why would you feel this way? You’re jealous because I can simply switch off by the flick of a hearing aid and sleep into the wonderful silence without any noise to wake me from my slumber. Unless you drop that backpack on me…
So there you have it. My six annoying things I do as a Deaf Traveller. What do you think? Do I have even more annoying things that you want to share with me? Maybe I do…