Some of my personal favorite, sure-fire ways to spark irritation in other people:
- Choose not to wear your hearing aids or cochlear implant and then struggle to communicate with someone. I’m giving my ears a break and I want to save money on batteries. But c’mon, talk to me, I can read your lips. (Like this ever works.)
- Bluff. Just pretend to understand what’s being said. Nod like a bobble head. Smile vaguely. Use a variety of interested facial expressions that, while they may fool strangers or casual acquaintances into believing you’re with them all the way, to anyone who knows you, it’s clear that you’re in high-performance faking mode.
- Repeatedly ask for repeats without doing anything to improve the situation.
What did you do on the weekend?
What did you do on the weekend?
Saturday! Sunday! You! WHAT?
Well you don’t have to get snippy, I am hard of hearing, y’know.
- Say pardon before the person has finished saying it the first time:
What did you…
- Ask someone to tell you what another person is saying—try tapping rapidly on their arm—while it’s still in the process of being said. Unless they are trained translators, your friends cannot understand the message and pass it along to you at the same time, without something getting lost in the process.
- Talk about your hearing loss all the time. Frankly, nobody’s that interested. And if you really want to be irritating, do all of the talking—whatever the topic—because that way you won’t have to listen to anybody else.
- Be a Communication Commando; lie in wait to pounce at the first whiff of less-than-perfect communication:
Aha! You were about to turn your head away while talking!
Hey—don’t even think of putting that food in your mouth until you finish what you’re saying.
There seems to be a magnet keeping your lips together; could you try moving them apart so that I can understand you?
Or—bark out military communication drills:
Form your words!
- Enforce political correctness with people who are just trying to be nice.
How long have you been hearing-impaired?
Please don’t use that term with me. I’m not damaged.
I’m sorry, no offense intended. ‘Hard of hearing’, then.
Don’t like that either. It sounds brittle and yucky.
Ok, how about ‘deaf’?
Excuse me, do you think I’m not hearing you right now?
Well, what term should I use?
But that doesn’t sound any more positive than ‘hard’ or ‘impaired’.
Listen, it’s my disability and I get to pick.
Fine, how long have you been “hearing loss”?
For pete’s sake, hearing loss is a noun, not an adjective. You should say, how long have had hearing loss?
I no longer care.
- Drag out the seating process in a restaurant. You want to sit where you’ll have the best possible understanding of the most number of people. But if you wait until everyone’s seated and comfortably settled in, you may see the ideal seat—there—and make everyone move, picking up their stuff and any cutlery they may already have licked. You can say sorry for the inconvenience and they’ll say no problem, but who really means it?
- Sometimes it’s difficult to tell where the best seat is! Restaurants have so many potential barriers, it’s a juggling act. What’s the lighting like? Where are the noisiest sections? You sit with your back against the wall, because you’ve been told that’s the best strategy for hearing-challenged peeps like you. But, no—now the light’s behind your partner’s head, making their face all shadowy. Switch places. Jeez, now there’s all this behind-you noise. Switch your chair to the side of the table, hoping that the servers won’t trip and spill leftover food on you as they go by. Darn, now there are annoying visual distractions in your line of sight. You move back to the first seat, against the wall, because the sun has now sunk low enough that your partner’s face is no longer in shadow. The food is also cold.
Life is full of annoyances, but most irritations are short-lived or we find ways to deal with them. We worry too much that our hearing loss irritates other people. And so what if it does? Are our family and friends going to stop being our family and friends? Do we sever relationships with a limping family member who can’t keep up on a walk, or a forgetful spouse who can never remember where s/he laid her glasses, wallet or keys–merely because those things irritate us?
That’s life and so is the fact of our hearing loss.