by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
My friend Michele has a hearing loss. She explained:
I was in Home Depot yesterday morning. While waiting for the nice man who offered to cut a threaded rod for me, I was standing near the entrance of the tool rental area. Evidently there is a motion sensor that triggers a bell to let the tool rental employees know they have a customer.
I kept seeing the gentleman that worked there coming and going from the back room, but figured he was just busy with his work.
Finally, he came over and asked me to move from where I was standing, that it was me setting off the bell. Clearly he was a little perturbed that I was so dense as to not realize I was the cause of the bell going off repeatedly.
Long ago I might have apologized and felt bad that I had irritated the employee, and given him the benefit of the doubt for not knowing I can’t hear, but I’m over it.
As the employee turned, without waiting for a reply from me, I said (in a very nice tone), “I’m deaf, I can’t hear the bell.”
The man turned, and from the look on his face I expected him to dissolve into a puddle at my feet. He offered a sincere apology.
I gave him his moment of humiliation, then very nicely assured him that it was okay—just as I did not know I was triggering the bell, he did not know I was deaf.
I didn’t take any pleasure in this mans’ humiliation, but by allowing him to experience it, he, hopefully, learned to think a little further than “Boy, is she stupid not to know she is the reason that d*** bell keeps going off!
This is a right way of teaching people about your hearing loss—and an excellent way of successfully resolving sticky hard of hearing situations.
Thanks for the lesson Michele. Also, thanks for letting me know there are bells hooked up to motion sensors. It never crossed my mind that they did such things in stores. In my experience, you have to physically “ring the bell” when you want service—not just stand there.