Thursday, March 15, 2007

I had to order my Starbucks by handwritten note this morning. I had it all prepared, and when it came to my turn in line I held it out and the woman took it from my hand. Even though I've been going to that Starbucks the entire time of my temping for this company, she was unfamiliar to me. She took the note, nodded exaggeratedly and read my order. After ringing me up, she began to mouth my total to me. I already had my card out, so it wasn't necessary.

I realized she thought I was deaf. It was too busy to explain that my ears worked just fine, it was my voice that couldn't utter a sound. A whisper wouldn't be heard in the swirl of morning coffee grabbers. She motioned for me to get my coffee at the other end. I kept trying to make eye contact with the one male who knew me, but like I said, busy morning. Thing was, in trying to accommodate me she'd forgotten to give me my blueberry muffin. So, she was motioning for me to go one way, while I was motioning for her to go the other. I tried to make a sound. Nothing. So I pointed to the case and mouthed the word, "muffin."

Her face morphed from confusion into understanding, and she grabbed a muffin out of the case and said, "sorry," almost mouthing the word back. I waited for my coffee and saw her hand the barista, another unfamiliar girl, my note. Now, she'd already written my order on the cup, but she gave the girl the note as well. After making my iced mocha and setting it on the ledge with my note, I shit you not, the barista signed in sign language, "Thank you." And not just signed it, but gracefully and almost in a grand balletic way, formed the sign, and mouthed the word. Humiliated, I smiled as I took my coffee off the ledge, nodded back in thanks, and walked off.

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