Just thought I would write about some of the negative situations I have encountered in restaurants/fast food joints as a deaf person. The majority of my experiences eating out are good experiences. I have had waiters/waitresses wanting to learn a certain sign or they’ll practice their fingerspelling skills with me.
Some of the things I mention in this post are what I refer to as deaf tendencies (for lack of a better term at this time) that we do joke about with each other.
I also want to add that some people who are deaf prefer to order their food verbally, some gesture, some write it down, and others will point it out on the menu. I typically don’t order it verbally because I cannot tell how quietly or how loudly I’m talking in a noisy place. I always either whisper it or everyone in the place turns around because I’m talking too loudly (a bit embarrassing).
Dear Restaurants and Fast Food Joints:
If you ever see a group of deaf people coming into your place, I strongly recommend the following tips:
–Immediately remove all condiments in breakable containers from the table, it’s possible they’ll get knocked off the table with our hands flying like crazy through the air.
–Tell your waiters/waitresses that if they want a nice tip from us to please actually serve us.
–Invest in deaf friendly tables which are round tables. We love round tables, because we can see everyone all at once. Rectangle tables are okay, but avoid seating us at the bar when possible. Bars are the most unfriendly deaf tables possible. If I’m sitting between 2 people who are having a conversation at a bar, I’m going to get whiplash from looking back and forth between them while following their conversation. It’s almost like being the poor person in the middle in a keep away game.
–If your waiters/waitresses/hosts are going to mock us signing have them do it where we can’t see them. That’s a sure way to lose any tips.
–Most groups may only come in for an hour, brace yourself, we will be there for 3 hours. It’s not often we get to hang out with people without having to deal with communication barriers. Oh yes, we go by DST (Deaf Standard Time) which has about a 2 hour delay compared to the rest of the population.
–Your centerpieces are very lovely but they will immediately get put on another table or on the floor. We can’t really see through your beautiful centerpieces while signing with each other.
–Have a pail of water and towel nearby. There’s a good chance a glass of water/pop will get knocked over while someone’s telling a dramatic story.
–We may be deaf, but that doesn’t mean we’re quiet. I can guarantee you that we’ll be the loudest table in your restaurant. We like to hit the table to get each other’s attention and to make a point when telling an intense story. There will also be oodles of blackberries and sidekicks vibrating every 5-10 minutes.
A couple of tips to be shared with fellow diners:
–We’re not there for your entertainment. We don’t like being gawked at and gossiped about. Don’t huddle up into groups and stare at us for 20 minutes nonstop.
–I’m not trying to steal your food, I’m just checking to see if it’s mine. I can’t hear them call the numbers/names out. Please don’t give me a dirty look and yell at me…I’m somewhat a picky eater and I’m sure I won’t want your food.
A few tips to share with your employers:
–When I ask for a piece of paper and pen to write my order down, don’t go and get your fellow co-employer and supervisor for backup. It’s really not necessary to have 3 people waste 10 minutes just to take one order.
–I know you’re trying to be helpful, but we can’t read Braille.
–If I call to place an order do not hang up on me the first time, second time, or third time. If you actually don’t hang up, remember the relay operator will let me know everything they can hear on your end including unkind jokes/comments about my call in the background.
–I see you asking everyone else if they want a medium, large, or extra-large order. Why do you assume that I want a specific size without asking me? I may actually have an opinion on which size I prefer to order.
–There’s a reason why the drive-through was invented and I would like to take advantage of that reason. If I pull up to a drive-through and you refuse to take my order without me having to go inside then you’re going to lose a customer.
–When I hold up 7 fingers and point to the combo menu, that means I want combo #7 not combo #3. It would be nice if your employers took a crash course in how to count fingers.
–Relax. We won’t bite, I promise. We’re not as scary or intimating as we may look.