Kindness Needs No Interpretation

, , , , | Friendly | February 21, 2020

(I’ve been going through a rough time lately. There’s been so much going on with my work that I’ve been struggling with a lot of things outside of work. My long-term boyfriend decided to take me out shopping to take my mind off of things. We are looking at new aftershaves for him and are talking and laughing when I notice a group of three Asian men talking amongst themselves nearby. I notice that they are talking to each other using British Sign Language. Both my parents are deaf so I’m proficient myself and am currently studying my NVQs in it in my spare time. I keep glancing over and they notice me. I don’t want to seem rude or make them uncomfortable so I turn my attention back to what my boyfriend is doing. After a while, I notice that the men are trying to talk to the sales assistant but they aren’t getting anywhere. Knowing how difficult communication can be for my parents, I decide to help out.)

Me: *in sign language* “Hey, sorry, I noticed you were having some difficulty. Can I help?”

(They stare at me in shock before [Man #1] reacts.)

Man #1: “Yeah, I wanted to buy this fragrance. Can you tell her?”

(I relay the message and the lady tells me it is out of stock.)

Me: “It looks like they’re out of stock of this one. One second.”

(I turn back to the lady and ask if it would be possible to order it instore as most can. She tells me they can’t do that but they can go online to do it. I tell the men that.)

Man #2: “How do you know sign language?”

Me: “My parents are deaf and they taught me as I was growing up. That’s why I was looking at you earlier; I hope you don’t think I was being rude!”

Man #1: “No, you weren’t. Thank you for the help. We’ll order this online.”

Man #3: *to [Man #1]* “Maybe you should buy her a meal to say thank you.”

(We all laughed and I waved them off.)

Me: “My mum has difficulty sometimes and I’ve always been there to help her; it was no trouble.”

(They thanked me again and left smiling. I was smiling, too, when I turned back to my boyfriend, who was smiling at me with pride in his eyes. I told my mum later that day and she was proud, too. To those men, I know that there are not a lot of Asian men or women in the deaf community and it can be difficult but I’ll always do my best to help. You owe me nothing because you helped me decide for certain that I want to be a British sign language interpreter one day. I’ll get there, so thank you!)

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