Emily Howlett: Those wonderful days when the world is deaf aware

Posted on November 6, 2017

Well, I am knackered. I have been in seven different cities in the last 48 hours and I am knackered like a salmon in breeding season (if you don’t know, well, that’s very knackered indeed. And you should Google it. David Attenborough explains it excellently).

I have had a fun couple of days work, and now I am on the last leg of my journey home. I am on a train, hurtling through the night rather romantically.

The romanticism is lost slightly on the fact my dinner is nothing more or less than a massive bag of Walkers Max Steak crisps (deep ridged for flavour, as all good things are). But still, it is nice to be heading home. It’s been a long couple of days…

But, the days have not been as long and hard as they might have been. In a total turnaround since my recent post RANTING about the inaccessibility of the world, I have met Many Wonderful People. It’s madness. As if the world actually sat up and read my whingeing and took it all on board.

Firstly, the bus driver on the rail replacement service. I showed him my ticket and duly pranced off down the aisle and sat down. Fairly quickly, the driver opened his little cab door and pranced down after me. He even managed to copy my little twirl into the seat as he sat down next to me. “You need me to stamp that for you, love,” he said. And stamp it, he did. Then he danced back up the aisle, into his driving box. Amazing.

Because, usually, when I don’t hear a bus driver yelling after me, for whatever reason, it comes down to another passenger to let me know my attention is being requested. Or the driver ends up stomping down the bus after me. Either way, it’s not pleasant. And it makes me feel Very Sorry for being Deaf. Whereas this time, it was just fun for everyone.

Secondly, the waitress in the café. She came over to take my order, saw my cochlear implant, asked IN BSL if I use BSL and then explained she had taken her Level 2 exams the previous week. We had a fabulous little chat, and then I had a fabulous big breakfast. And why was she learning BSL? Because she worked in a café, and sometimes Deaf people came in. That was it. That was her reason. I will be marrying her next week.

Thirdly, the guy I was working with. I’ve never met him before, but we are both part of a pool of freelancers who are called upon to work at different gigs – often with new colleagues each time. He was utterly unfazed by my deafness (though rather alarmed by my ability to accidentally belch my ABCs – yes, accidentally).

He simply asked what he needed to do to make sure we could work together without causing any extra stress for me, and whether or not I could hear important things like the artists in the room next door having a screaming argument about The X Factor. He didn’t know any sign, but we very quickly developed a non-spoken communication method to use while we were working, and it was fabulous.

Finally, I was staying in a very small hotel. I didn’t have the wonderful George, my hearing dog, with me, due to the nature of the gig being unsuitable for his sensitive soul. I was slightly worried about overnight fire alarms, and also whether or not I’d be able to wake up in time for the hideously early start the next day (come on, you guys, let’s just say it; ShakeAwakes are CRAP).

The Reception staff didn’t bat an eyelid – they gave me a special door hanger that was pink and red and made me feel Very Important, and they wrote my name and room number on a list of People To Be Evacuated in an Emergency. And they agreed to come and jump on my head, in the manner of George, if I hadn’t turned up to breakfast by 7.00am.

Isn’t it so wonderful when things go smoothly? Of course, I know that society hasn’t paid the slightest attention to me. It’s just that sometimes you get a good day, when the world is working with you. And you know what? It’s really important to remember that. The bad days, when everything stacks up against you and the current is flowing the wrong way – they suck. They can seem all-consuming.

Bu they’re not.

There’s ALWAYS another good one coming. There’s another person who understands, or makes an effort. There’s someone who will listen to what you need.

There’s always someone who will jump on your head to wake you up.

I promise.

Read more of Emily’s writing for us here.

Emily Howlett is a regular writer for this site. She is a profoundly Deaf actress, writer and teacher. She tweets as @ehowlett

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