Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Awkward Moments for JP: Meeting a friend of a friend

I’ve not blogged for a while, and probably shouldn’t be indulging in this pastime now because I have a deadline coming up.  But as we all know, deadlines are great at stimulating procrastination.  I shall therefore proceed to spout an anecdote I’ve been saving for a rainy day.

A while back I was at a social event (a common occurrence, despite the fact that my job involves trains) when a friend explained that a friend of theirs was to join us.  I responded positively to this news, at which point my friend leaned in and said “they’re…” accompanied by some form of gesture.

“Sorry?” I said.

My friend leaned in again, repeated the gesture and said: “they’re…”

At once I understood.  The person who was to join us was deaf.  “Ahh” I said, smiling and nodding knowingly.

But when they joined us, I began to have my doubts.  They didn’t seem to have any difficulty in hearing what I was saying as I introduced myself.  I tried to subtly ascertain if they were lip-reading or wearing a hearing-aid and concluded that they weren’t.  Given that my attempts at subtle aren’t always successful they probably wondered why I was looking at them so strangely, but nothing was said.

The evening continued well, but there remains an unanswered question.  Just what was my friend trying to communicate?  It was a while back now, and even if it was appropriate to bring it up in conversation, what would I say?  And what if I need to be sensitive to something when I meet the person again?

As the saying goes, loose gestures cost lives…

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