Being deaf and wearing Cochlear Implants is not a walk in the park or an easy life. It takes work and dedication to reach for the dreams and goals I have set in my life. I learned many lessons over the past few months that have taught me many things. Through these experiences I am brought back to a thought I often wondered as a young boy and even today: “If I could see what angels see…” We all have experiences where a really good day comes and you feel someone has helped lift you up or when you have a really rough day you feel someone wipe away those tears. That’s when you know angels are all around you, which brings calm assurance letting you know that everything will be okay. Upon my return home from serving my mission in Salt Lake City I bought my first car. With that came a new sense of responsibility and a welcome to “adulthood”. I was excited about this new stage of my life. A few weeks after getting my car I went to go get an oil change. The following experience has taught me many things and I hope each of you will be able to take something away from this.
One day after work I made plans to get my car an oil change. I checked into the prices and felt confident about everything. I pulled up to the shop and told them what I wanted. My car was taken in and I walked into the noisy waiting room where there was only one other person in the waiting room. The loudness came from the TV and radio. About half way through they come up to me and asked if I would like the filters replaced and some other stuff that needed to be done. I asked how much it would all cost. The guy said, “Oh, $50 something.” I then said, “So, you mean like $50 something dollars…?” He responded with, “Yes”. I did need the other stuff done so I had them go ahead with the work. I thought I was getting a pretty good deal. They finished my car and then they came out with the bill. I looked at the total amount and to my surprise it was not “$50 something” but rather $250.00 something. My jaw about dropped to the floor. The guy directed me to the cashier and said, “Have a nice day.” At that moment I felt like I was taken advantage of because of the fact that I am deaf. It was another one of those “Drive Through” moments. I ended up spending more money than I had planned on but I took away a valuable lesson. I was pretty hard on myself about the whole ordeal. I was mad that I did not hear clearly, and my confidence in this whole “adulthood” stage had dropped. I got home and vented to my parents about how it went. As I talked with them I learned that this would not be the last time this would happen. The question then came, “How am I going to handle it the next time this happens?” I realized that I needed to make a plan. Not everyone is perfect at Customer Service but I can practice being the best customer I can be. It may take a little more work but at least I know what I am doing. Here are some things I learned:
Situation: You walk into a loud waiting room and you struggle to hear clearly what the cashier or customer service representative is saying. What do you do?
Do’s: If you can’t hear the person very well and they are talking about money or something—ask them to write it down, even if it is a rough estimate of how much something is going to cost. This does two things: 1. Helps you better know where your money is going, what you’re getting into, and helps you plan. 2. Helps those serving you become the best customer service representative.
Don’ts: Don’t ever assume you know. Assuming you heard something right always leaves an open door to surprises. Too often I fall into this pattern where I assume I heard someone right but then I realize that I was off. Later in life I look back and laugh at those moments but it would be nice to not have that many moments to laugh at.
You know how you hear. You know what you want. No one else knows that so you have to be willing to speak up and let people know. When people first meet me they automatically assume that I can hear everything. But…that’s wrong. I actually don’t hear everything. In some settings I hear everything. For example: When I am having one on one conversations with low background noise, I hear just about everything and follow with the conversation. On the other hand when I get into large groups and lots of background noise, I get maybe half of what is going on. That confuses people. Cochlear Implants are amazing but it is not perfect in every situation. I have learned to recognize a situation and know that sometimes I will have to work harder to know what is going, while other situations can feel like a breeze. Rather than beating myself up each time I run into a hard situation I look around to see what angels see in this situation. Last week I was in a busy airport and it was really loud. I could not hear the speakers very well so I started talking to the guy next to me and explained my situation. This guy was as nice as can be. He helped me understand what was being said on the speakers and once I got on my flight I never saw him again. He was like my own angel watching over me. When we communicate our concerns, that is when we can find solutions. If I decided not to tell anyone that I was having a hard time hearing I may have missed my flight and had a horrible travel experience.
It often takes doing something hard to become something extraordinary.