Hit The Mute Button

| Friendly | November 20, 2016

(I’m deaf and can only read lips if I’m paying very close attention and someone is talking at a normal pace rather than just standing there and exaggerating each and every word. Also it’s usually very condescending. I’m at a theme park with friends when this occurs. My friend, and another woman [Woman #2] sitting not far from me who witnessed everything, were able to fill me in about what happened after the fact. I’m waiting for my friends on a bench outside the restrooms when I see flailing in front of me and realize it’s a woman trying to get my attention.)

Woman: “Helloooo? Ugh, finally! You know what you just did was very disrespectful.”

(She’s talking and moving a little too much to understand her so I try to tell her I can’t hear. She then does the most overly exaggerated movements with her mouth that I have ever seen.)

Woman: “YOU… WERE… BEING… DISRESPECTFUL!”

(I would have been mad if it hadn’t been so comical. She stood still, planted and making dead eye contact with such a stern and serious look in her eyes but her jaw, lips, and tongue twisted in ways that she almost looked like a cartoon, with the bottom half of her face moving independently from everything else. After laughing and making her more angry I signed something more complex. Usually the gestures in themselves make people kind of step back and get the picture. Not her.)

Woman: “I don’t know what that means! Just tell me how to get to [Attraction]!”

(At this point I see my friend exit and spot us, immediately sensing trouble and marching over. Other people had begun to stare but the woman beside me was the only one who really cut in.)

Woman #2: “Can’t you tell she’s deaf?!”

Woman: “That’s no excuse!!

Woman #2: “Really? Explain. Explain HOW that’s not a reason of why she’d be signing to you.”

(The woman looks at me, pauses, and then physically recoils from either me being deaf or about how awful she’s been.)

Woman: *sputtering, only somehow now realizing* “W-well she can still HEAR, can’t she?”

Friend: *incredulous, coming from behind the woman, and the only thing I was able to lip read* “Jesus Christ, you mean MUTE, not DEAF.”

(The woman sputtered some more and stomped off, head bowed after realizing that others were staring. It’s still mind-boggling how people can be so blinded by their self-righteousness that they completely forget reason. The funny part was that we actually went and made line to the next attraction she had been looking for. We hadn’t intended to follow her (we had actually sat down to watch a show in between these two rides) and hadn’t noticed she had made line until we saw someone ahead of us scrambling over the chains to get out of line, two or three of her friends chasing after her looking very confused.)

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