You’re probably wondering if the above word is a typo. No, it’s not. It’s a word that exists in my dictionary. Before I explain what this word means, I want to touch on some common reactions I get from strangers when they realize I’m deaf.
The Let Me Do My Good Deed of the Day Group:
This group tries so hard to help out that they make the situation worse. They’ll try to hold my hand as I’m crossing the street. They’ll scream into my ear. They’ll draw every possible attention to the fact that they’re such a good person for helping someone with a ‘disability.’
The OMG! I’m SO sorry! Group:
Members of this group will stare at me with their mouth open. When they get over the shock, they say “I’m sooooooooooo sorry!” with a pitiful look on their face.
The Oh, let me write in the air Group: What is it about people that makes them think I can somehow read letters traced into the air?
The Stay away in case deaf people bite Group: This group will completely freak out and look like they’re scared to death. They’ll nod their head and will slowly back up then walk off.
The You’re not really deaf Group: This group seems to think I can somehow hear even after I explain I can’t hear intercoms, telephones, or announcements. Oh, they’re so sure that I’m lying about being deaf because I look too “normal.”
The Ugh, it’s not worth it Group: People will take one last look at me…stick their nose up in the air and walk off.
The Let’s make fun of deaf people! Group: This group seems to think I can’t see them making fun of me when they’re standing a couple of feet right in front of me.
The *squeals* It’s a REAL LIVE deaf person. People, come look! Group: Exclusive members will holler at their other family members, friends, or co-employers to come over. Before I know it, I’m in an huddle like setting with people whispering to each other while they stare at me.
The Awesome! Deaf people=dumb people. Time to scam! Group: Apparently “deaf” means the same as “dumb” to certain people. They’ll try to steal money from me thinking I can’t figure out how much money I should get back in change.
Ok, these groups make up about 65% of strangers I’ve met.
The Oh, you’re deaf. Ok, *looks at me and speaks clearly.* Group: I LOVE this group. They’re willing to take the extra 5 seconds to repeat what they said, fingerspell something, or will give me paper/pen. These people are awesome.
Problem is, I never know which category strangers will fall into. So, I do what many deaf people do. I social bluff. After all, these are strangers I interact with for no longer than a minute. It’s easier and it saves me from potentially feeling crappy. It’s also a lot quicker when I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Sometimes social bluffing does work. The problem with social bluffing is a person never knows what she/he is saying “yes” or “no” to. This puts us in some awkward and interesting situations. 😉
I developed a bad habit of social bluffing while I lived in NYC. I would generally social bluff when I was out running errands or while I was waiting for the subway.
NYC people are the most challenging people to lipread. They talk 500 mph. A million different accents exist in NYC. They don’t always make make eye contact and will constantly look down or elsewhere where you can’t see their lips.
Oftentimes, I try to give what I think might be the “correct” answer. I judge if it’s “correct” based upon the stranger’s facial expression.
Yenoidnknumwha was invented while I was living in NYC.
If you look closely….you’ll notice it’s a combo of yes, no, I don’t know, um, what.
If I miss the question that was asked, I’ll try first with a “yes” answer.
If that gets me an odd look, I then try “no.”
If that doesn’t work, I shrug my shoulders.
If that still doesn’t seem like an acceptable answer based upon the strange look I’m getting, I’ll go “ummm” while I’m frantically trying to guess what was asked.
If that fails….I’ll resort to “what?” Which sometimes starts the cycle all over again.
Sometimes I’m so clueless as to what is being said that I try to mumble out a one word answer but it’s such a gamble as to which word might be the correct answer. The problem is that my brain will try to save my butt by blurting all of these words out at once resulting in the infamous yenoidnknumwha word.
Needless to say that just gets strange stares. 🙂
*note: I only do this in certain situations. I usually let people know when I can’t understand what was being said.