Deaf People Cling To The Margins

Sometimes I cling to the margins with my fingernails, and sometimes I stomp on them with both feet. I haven’t been in the mainstream for so long I don’t even realize what it is anymore.

I have been deaf for going on thirty-five years now and believe me that requires some serious margin clinging. It just amazes me how the mainstream has no idea of what being deaf means. I try to teach them but often that becomes just too tiring.

Everyone assumes that all deaf people know sign language

The ADA act which became law in 1990 mandates signing for all public announcement and have yet to change that archaic means of communicating especially since from the beginning 98% of hearing impaired people don’t understand it. But, I guess that is government for you, isn’t it?

Everyone assumes that all deaf people can read lips

In reality only about 20% of the English language appears on the lips so even those who are good at reading lips have to guess 80% of the time.

When I tell people I am deaf they assume all they have to do is speak a little louder

I don’t understand this one. I tell them “you can scream at the top of your lungs, and it won’t make any difference!” I give them tools to communicate with me, but it is seldom accepted. They just speak louder.

One of my biggest fears in life is that a policeman will kill me

In most of the rest of the first class nations it takes a year or more of academy training before candidates are allowed to handle weapons. In the US they are given a lethal side-arm after 13 to 19 weeks of instruction. That is certainly not enough time to learn much about the people they are going to serve let alone knowing when to shoot and when keep it in the holster. I’m just afraid that I am going to be stopped for a simple traffic violation and when I don’t hear the officer tell me to come out of my vehicle (or any other command) he may feel threatened by my lack of non-compliance. You get the idea so no use going further.

Every person in the world now uses text messages and email

That is except for all the businesses I need to contact. Those seem to all be limited to only voice calls and Faxes (I know what are faxes??? 🧐). I send email to them telling them that I am deaf, and they need to use texts to communicate with them. The first thing that happens after that it that they call me again!

Deaf people just to survive in this world cling to the margins daily.

Being on the Margins Makes Isolation More Tolerable

One of the biggest complaints I hear about the pandemic is the isolation that many people feel because they are off by themselves. When you live on the margins having more time alone is most often just a fact of life, especially for those of us who have significant Aspie traits or are deaf and for me, that is both.

Over the years I have come to enjoy my alone time more and more. I simply don’t depend on others to make my days enjoyable anymore, if I really ever did. I have spent my whole life trying to figure out what people expect from me. I have never answered that question to my satisfaction. When I finally realized that unanswered question is most likely due to my Aspie traits things became more settled. I am not a good communicator when it comes to one-on-one type things, so I have no really close friends to share my life with.

In groups, I struggle with trying to figure out when it was my time to say something. When I became deaf thirty-some years ago that problem was magnified by a factor of ten. It seems that almost no one has the patience to try to include me in casual conversations. I have come to understand that and don’t really have any ill feeling about it anymore. That is just the way it is when you are deaf and living in a hearing world. I live on the margins…

Ok, let’s finally spin this post around to the title. 🥴 Because of these type problems with group and one-on-one conversations I have learned to enjoy my own company more and more as the years have gone by. I gave a presentation to a national organization a few decades ago declaring that one of the things I miss the most because of being deaf is chit-chat. That is, the daily off-the-cuff stuff that we share with others throughout the day. That is still true for me but not to the magnitude it once was.

Maybe it is by necessity, but it is now easy for me to spend the whole day totally by myself. In fact, I have come to depend on that when I am writing about ten posts a week on my blogs. My blogs give me a purpose that is still manageable with my current life circumstances.

In some serendipitous way, I think my somewhat forced isolation has allowed me to fulfill one of my primary passions in life. I have always enjoyed writing and telling stories. I just chose the wrong occupation to do much of that, but now that I have been retired for more than twenty years I have finally found what I really enjoy doing, and that is blogging in five-hundred words or less. That never would have happened if I were not living on the margins…

Wall Art

For this post, I give you a piece of wall art. I mean that literally “wall art”. I need to give you a little background before I tell you more about it.

I went deaf in 1988. It was not a sudden thing, it slowly evolved for a 20-year period. One of the things I missed the most immediately was that TV was just not the same. In 1988 closed captioning was in its infancy. Most of the programs I had watched were either not captioned or the captioning was so bad that it really wasn’t usable. But still, I refused to give up on one of my life’s pleasures. So, what I would do was to watch the pictures and make up my own stories about what was happening. 🥴 Most often the pictures ended up very mismatched from my personal storyline, but that was ok.

Luckily, it would only be a year or two until captioning was greatly advance and I could actually see/hear again, at least as TV was concerned. Now getting to the link between this picture and my words. It’s been thirty years + since those days, but I still like to make up stories about many of the photos I have taken. So, that is what I am about to do.

Right now I don’t remember exactly where this photo was taken. But I do remember it was from a small abandoned town somewhere in Indiana. About the only buildings still occupied was the fire station and post office. That is not too unusual as buildings seem to live way beyond their useful life when they are funded by taxes. But, I am getting off the story. I do remember that this was on a jail. One window still existed with bars on it and there was still evidence of a jail cell in the back.

I can conjure up a story about a jail breakout causing the damage repaired. Maybe it was from a Bonnie and Clyde small-town bank robbers. From the other buildings in town, one was used to be a café, and yet another was a general store and a hotel. That would seem to make it a prime target for a bank robbing couple who cruised through the time. My mind conjured up several other stories from this picture. But, the final chapter was always that the repair just wasn’t done right and over the years the amateur job failed.

Like my TV watching time, I’m sure my stories don’t come close to matching any reality, but that is ok. That is what life is all about.