Making the best of hearing situations during a disaster

Though my husband and I are sheltering, I found it necessary to venture out to my local bank to take care of a business transaction that I couldn’t do online. When moving here fourteen years ago, I had chosen a local family-owned bank, finding they offered the same online and ATM services as the larger national banks. At our local branch office, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the tellers and managers who specialize in customer service.  Since my best hearing opportunities are face to face, I usually avoid the drive up windows and take care of my banking needs inside the branch office. However the other day, when I arrived at the door, I was greeted by the following note: please proceed to the drive through window where one of our associates will assist you.  I tensed. This transaction wasn’t going to be easy. The bank’s sound system is screechy and mechanical sounding. Most of the tellers are soft-spoken women. Yet here I was with no choice. I drove to the bay closest to the window so I could see the teller’s face, thinking that might help. Good, I thought when I saw who was there. We knew each other. Yet, there was an issue. The woman before me was from Brazil and though her English is excellent, she speaks with a Portuguese accent.

I took in a breath, setting myself in a, “I think I can, I think I can,” attitude. I explained what I needed, a cashier’s check and gave her the amount. She nodded and rushed through the information I was to provide to her, all of which I missed.  I asked her to slow down, explained that I was having trouble hearing her. I asked if she could let me inside. She frowned. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Because of the virus, we can’t let anyone into the bank.” I nodded, understanding. Conducting business from my car would insure her safety and mine. I asked her to write down the details she needed from me, and after she did, she whisked her note through the pneumatic tube system right to my car’s window.  In a minute, I wrote down everything the teller needed to know. Through the old fashioned use of notes, I was going to accomplish what I had come here to do. When I had my check in hand, I thanked her for taking the time to write everything down. “No problem,” she said, cheerfully. “We are here to help. ”And that’s what we all should be doing during these trying times. Helping ourselves and others stay healthy. We need to stay vigilant and stress free in order to help ourselves hear. We should listen to sheltering orders and stay in our homes as much as we can, preventing Covid 19 from spreading person to person. By eating well, exercising, and getting needed sleep, we are boosting our immune systems and not putting ourselves in a position to catch the disease.

The other night my husband told me he was glad that we were together during this crisis. We are trying new recipes, reading more, and sharing thoughts. We tell each other our fears and worries and take solace in knowing we are there for each other. As we meander through the hearing world, be safe and be well. Take time, to write an email or text message to a friend or family member. Spend time, meditating or soaking in a tub. Learn a new skill. Realize that even though our nation is fighting a war against a virus, we are all blessed to have the great resources our country offers.

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Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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