Friday, 18 September 2015

Yesterday's trip to the dentist

was not without incident. 
It began with the train running even later than usual. Nearly thirteen minutes late does make a difference. I made it in time - just.
My dentist is nice but she did find that tooth with the chip in it and told me I had to come back again. Sigh. No, I did hope she would notice because it is rough - but couldn't she have a fairy dental wand? I mean I did give her that short story last Christmas. You would think she could do something about it.
And then, as I was waiting to make the next appointment their phone rang. I heard the receptionist say "Yes Mr P. I don't know if he has his mobile with him or not. How do I tell him if he can't read?"
I recognised the surname of one of the local interpreters for the deaf and looked in the direction the receptionist was looking in. Sure enough there was one of the more elderly members of the deaf community pacing backwards and forwards and looking agitated. I know him but not well. I know he really didn't go to school because he was brought up on a remote property. No, he doesn't read more than survival language. 
I couldn't help but hear the rest of the conversation. The interpreter was running late because the next train was even later than mine. He had only just arrived in the city. If he really hurried, almost ran, he could make it to the dental clinic in ten minutes. 
The receptionist put the phone down looking rather anxious so I took a breath and said,
"I couldn't help hearing that. I know him slightly. Would you like me to explain?"
So I waved when he was facing me and signed, "You - phone?" 
He shrugged in a way which suggested he didn't have it with him.  He came over to me still looking anxious. I was struggling to remember P's "name sign" and couldn't.
So I just signed "Interpreter P phone train" and then tapped my own watch to indicate late. He nodded and looked questioningly at me again and I signed "come" and held up all ten fingers.
He nodded and smiled and signed "thank you" and then with a rather mischievous smile added.  "You - child - sign."
We both laughed. He's right. My signing must look like that of a young child.

Text messages have changed communication for the deaf but it isn't much use if you don't take your phone with you or you don't have it switched on and your ability to read is minimal.
The receptionist thanked me, made another appointment for me and I paid the amount owing that day. As I was unlocking my tricycle P came hurrying along.He nodded to me and I said,
"Slow down. I told him you would be ten minutes late."
He stopped briefly. "You were in there? Thanks Cat."
My sign language really is minimal and poorly executed. A lot of it takes the sort of manual dexterity I don't have but I got that message across. 
I went off thinking - not for the first time - how exhausting it must be for the profoundly deaf to communicate with the rest of us. I'm glad I was there too.

No comments: