Fifteen vs Fifty

Fifteen: [fif-teen] /ˈfɪfˈtin/

Fifty: [fif-tee] /ˈfɪf ti/

Every year, I end up with a couple people on my Christmas list who ask for gift cards with an agreed limit of $15.

Every single year without fail, I find myself in a somewhat amusing situation.

I have a tendency to drop off the endings of words when talking. My fifteen sounds like fifty.

Fifteen and Fifty are tricky to lipread. They look similar on the lips.

Even hearing people sometimes struggle to hear the difference between fifteen and fifty.

Oh, how I hated those two numbers during math classes. If I did not have an interpreter present at a particular time, it was a 50/50 guess (ack there’s that 50 again!) as to if I was guessing correctly between fifty and fifteen. Kind of a big difference between those two numbers.

As the years went by I became tired of guessing when someone would tell me one of those numbers. I started repeating it back but then realized they weren’t always hearing me correctly. I later started gesturing it by holding up one finger for “1” and 5 fingers for “5” to signal fifteen instead of saying it. That actually seemed to confuse people even more because they weren’t used to interpreting visual clues and usually resulted in them just staring at me.

Without fail this happens every holiday season:

I walk into a store and grab a cute gift card.

I stand in the check-out line and hope it won’t turn into a huge scene with everyone else in line staring (yes, this has happened) and wondering what’s wrong with me.

I hand the cashier the gift card and see that they ask me how much I want on the card.

I wait until he/she looks at me (this helps with communication).

I say “fifteen”

Cashier looks at me and repeats “fifty”

I nod “yes” thinking he/she said “fifteen”

I see “$50” pop up.

Cashier waits for me to hand him/her money.

I shake my head “no” and try to say fifteen again.

Cashier looks at me again and says “fifteen.”

I shake “no” thinking he/she said “fifty.”

I say fifteen again.

Cashier looks at me again and says “fifty.” By then, I can feel everyone in line staring right at me.

I nod “yes” thinking he/she said “fifteen”

I see “$50” pop up.

I shake my head “no” and try to gesture “1” and “5.”

Cashier looks at me like I’ve just said something in a foreign language.

I sigh to myself while trying not to turn red from embarrassment from holding up the line and try again. “Fifteeeeeeeeeennnn” while gesturing “1” and “5.”

*Light bulb goes on*

The $50 has been changed to $15, I hand the cashier money, thank him/her, and scurry out of the store because by then I have about 10-15 people staring at me wondering if I was one of those rude customers who can’t be pleased.

By the time I walk outside and the fresh air hits me, my embarrassment disappears and I quietly chuckle to myself.

And that is how I know I’m in the full swing of holiday shopping!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s