Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Top 3 Moments When It's Hardest For Me to Hear

A recent experience at work prompted me to think about the more difficult situations I have, when it is most difficult to hear other people. I thought of my top 3 "hardest to hear" situations and decided to list them here.

I'm curious to know what you would consider the top 3 moments it's hardest to hear. What do you think?

1) Trying to talk in a fast food restaurant that has seemingly random beeping, noises, and cleaning equipment running. Of course, the beeping and other noises are not random if you are working there, as I'm sure it's the equipment trying to get your attention. But from the customer's side, these noises sound random, overly loud, and really interfere with hearing. A local fast food place I enjoy going to has become less enjoyable because of the proximity of loud machines to the customer area. I can't have a conversation if it's going to be punctuated by beeping and other sounds that don't even affect me.

2) When I am at work, the most difficult situation for me to hear is when the other person is distracted. I always get a sinking feeling in my stomach when two patrons strike up a conversation while in line. What often seems to happen is that they continue their conversation as they are assisted by me or my coworkers. That means they aren't paying any attention to me trying to ask them questions, and when they do speak to me they are most often oriented to keep speaking to their newfound friend, meaning I can't read their lips. Not only that, but I can't break in smoothly to ask what I need to ask.

The specific situation at work had to do with a particularly chatty patron who was talking to everyone in line or nearby - except me. As he finished picking up his items, he looked at me and said, "Well, you're not very talkative, are you?"

I just informed him there was a line forming behind him and moved to the next patron. But what I would have liked to have done is pointed out the multiple ways he had made it impossible to speak to him during our transaction - and how he had managed to make it nearly impossible for me to figure out if he was addressing me or someone else.

A windy day. The wind really interferes with my hearing aids and it easily snatches sound away. I particularly hate trying to walk in a parking lot and talk to someone else when it is windy. Walking side by side, plus the wind, makes it very difficult.


  1. My Top 3 Moments -

    1) When asking a store associate if they have a particular item and where you might find it in the store. This has got to be my all time hardest to hear moment.

    Upon inquiring where an item can be found they invariably will turn their head in the direction of the item and give instruction on where it is and how to get there. Even after explaining to them that I am deaf and read lips they will still turn their head away from me as they give me the instructions a second time ... "It's in isle marble, mumble, marble. You go straight down mumble, marble and turn mumble and you'll find them on your marble side." and then turn back to look at me with a wide smile as though they just successfully helped another customer. Ugh!

    2.) Drive-thru's by any means where not designed with the hearing impaired in mind. Knowing this, you would think we would avoid them at all costs ... not me. "Welcome to Mumbles! How may I take your order?" ... or at least that's what I hope they said. "Yes, I would like 2 burgers please." "Mumble, marble, mumble, mumble?" "OK. I'll be driving around to the first window and if your not there I'll pay you at the second window with hopes you have my order. Sound good? Great! See ya!" "Mumble, marble, mumb ..." and I leave them mumbling to no one and show at the first signs of life to pay for my order. Oddly, as troublesome as this sounds ... it always seems to work but has taken me years to perfect! LOL

    3) I will have to agree with Megan ... wind! Wind across the microphone(s) is like an MC on stage blowing as hard as he can into a microphone on stage ... only louder. Baffles, ear muffs, hats, you name it, most all of them usually cause feed-back. At least for me they do. So, solution while walking in a parking lot? "I'll talk to you when we get in the car".

  2. Thanks Rob! Those are excellent - I have trouble in those situations, too. Especially drive thrus, argh!

  3. I agree with all the answers so far!

    My top 3:
    1) Phones in general, but especially when there's a lot of background noise.
    A lot of my job involves the answering the phone. As I'm a temp my boss won't spend 'valuable' money out the budget to get me a headset. Sometimes there can be up to 15 people in our office, all talking, and I'm trying to hear the person on the other end of the phone. Never works - I could cry in those times.

    The other one is when the person on the other end of the phone is obviously distracted by something and keep moving the receiver away from their mouth.

    Ooh, and when they ring from a hospital ward and all I can hear is the bleeping of machines in the background - much like the fast food situation!

    2) When I'm tired - I haven't got the reserves of energy to concentrate, and so I catch a lot less words than I would otherwise.

    3) Yup, a third one for wind. It drives me mad sometimes that I have to keep reminding my husband of this one!

  4. I just wanted to let you know that as a parent of a young child with hearing loss I love reading your blog. Gives me some insight into her future. Also, I just wanted to let you now that I have given you the Versatile Blogger Award.

  5. I can only think of two:
    -sitting in the backseat of a car, especially with music on or windows down
    -in a movie theatre, with everyone in a row not facing you, as the screen is flashing or you're in near-darkness

  6. After Karen Putz told her story about being mistreated at the drive-through at a Chicago area Steak n' Shake, I thought about a different strategy.

    When I drive up to the order board and press the button, I say some nonsense syllables, then "Thank you". Then I drive to the window. I express surprise when they tell me they didn't understand my order and "repeat" it. So far no one has given me any trouble.


  7. Three for me:

    1: on any phone

    2: When trying to mingle at a social gathering or in crowded environments.

    3: When I am in a car, whether as the driver or as a passenger. When I am driving, I have to keep my eyes on the road and can't be facing my passengers, when I am a passenger, difficult to communicate with the driver. I have a profound loss in my left ear.

  8. My three are also mentioned in previous comments:
    1 - In the car, especially if I'm driving and the passenger is looking out of his/her window while talking to me...nightmare, or if my young son is talking to me from the rear seat...hopeless !
    2 - In 'chatty' company, especially in a busy restaurant or bar. I miss most conversation unless I can read lips.
    3 - On any phone. This is embarrassing and probably not very good for business !



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