The Secret Deafie: Why is it ok that I was knocked over with a buggy while out shopping?

Posted on February 18, 2014

The Secret Deafie is a regular column about deaf experiences submitted anonymously by different contributors. If you have a story you’d like to tell, just email

Wow… What a day!! Currently I’m sat up in bed having cried myself a headache and wishing I never have to go outside my home again but knowing full well I will have to. But this time I’m at a loss to know how I can grow EVEN thicker skin.

I lost complete hearing on my left side last year following life saving brain surgery to remove a brain tumour and also have loud tinnitus. I do use hearing aids but in busy surroundings I find them more of a hindrance than a help as all sound is amplified into my ‘good’ ear so I didn’t have them in today.

It’s Saturday, not a day I would choose to go into the town centre where I live, but my 6 yr old son had an optician appointment. Whilst there we popped into a well known High Street store for a T-shirt for him. Nothing complicated about that, you’d think.

The shop is tightly packed with rails of clothes and I was admiring a swimsuit for my daughter.

All of a sudden, a buggy’s wheels crashed through where I was stood with my son almost knocking me over (thanks to ‘Larry’ the brain tumour, my balance has also been badly affected, giving the illusion I’m drunk).

I looked up in amazement as the woman pushing the buggy, who had by now, reached her friend standing half the length of the shop away. They were staring back at me shaking their heads.

As they noticed me looking, the woman who pushed past shouted out and holding up her hand indicated ‘five.’

I started to reply ‘I’m deaf’ but thought it best to actually go over to her and explain. By this time it felt as if the entire shop had stopped to stare at the commotion. I went over ‘excuse me’ I started to which she shouted ‘I asked you to move five times and you didn’t!’

‘Well I’m deaf I can’t hear you and I didn’t see you behind me’ but she’d already bent over to put something in her buggy so I tapped her arm so I could see her face and hear her to which she leapt back and her, and her friend, accused me of hitting her!!

Threatening to call the police because I ‘assaulted’ her the staff called the manageress to deal with the situation, so I again tried to explain I’m deaf and not hitting anyone but by all means call the police and look at the CCTV at the whole incident as I’d nothing wrong.

Flustered, the woman slammed her phone back in her bag and screamed ‘just get her away from me’. I was ushered away to the back of the store and offered some water.

My poor son was sobbing, I was crying and people continued to stare. After a while the manageress came back over and said it was ok because the lady wasn’t involving the police…. excuse me…. OK???

Why is it ok that I was barged with a buggy, shouted at across a shop and accused of assault just because I didn’t hear her?

I’m not after sympathy, but as an unseasoned hard of hearing person someone please let me know…

What is the right thing to do or say?

Do you have a story or experience you’d like to share? If you’d like to write a Secret Deafie column, just email
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