Meandering Through the Hearing World

The Hearing and Shopping Experience

Now that I’ve had both Covid vaccine injections, I feel free to roam around the boutiques in our area. Privately-owned businesses have suffered greatly during the pandemic, and for almost a year, these shops have had to rely on online sales. As we begin to glide towards a more normal shopping environment, it’s good being out there, supporting our local businesses. As more and more people become vaccinated, and the sheltering veil is lifted, I hope to see more men and women frequenting local shops and restaurants.


In our area, businesses require us to wear masks even if you have been vaccinated. Though I’m immune to coronavirus, I know others are not, so I comply with these requirements. We are still unsure of how the virus is transmitted. It is better to be safe and to keep in mind the safety of others.


However, as we open up, we, suffering from hearing loss, face many hearing challenges. As we come out of sheltering, we still have all the hearing issues we had pre-pandemic. There is no cure for hearing loss though hearing loss should never stop you from living your life.


Two days ago, I spent a few hours exploring some of the boutique shops near my home. It was one of those beautiful Florida spring afternoons that makes you want to. be outside in the sunshine. As I moved around the cobblestones path, winding through the mall, I noticed more people circulating, and floating in and out of the stores. Inside stores, background noise abounded. As a sales clerk approached, I knew I would have trouble hearing her, but I was ready.


Around here, most store clerks are friendly and helpful, and they like to chat. Needless to say, I have trouble hearing women’s voices without a mask, and with one, it is next to impossible. However, I’ve learned from experience what might be said. Often, I can figure out if a store clerk is greeting you or if they are trying to point you in the direction of newly-arrived items or the the clothing on sale.  


However, guessing doesn’t always work. I’ve noticed many odd looks and raised eyebrows, signally that I haven’t answered correctly. It leaves one wondering what to do. Sometimes, I fake my way through these conversations with great success. But another way occurred to me. Of late, I’ve come to realize that it is better to blurt out, “I don’t hear well, could you please repeat that?”


Those words open doors for people to help you. I’ve had sales clerks take me under their wing and make my shopping easier. Some have even said, “Oh I know what you mean, my mother, brother, husband, etc. has hearing loss.” I always like hearing those words. You know that they know what to do to help you.


There are possibilities when you are forthcoming about your hearing loss. You are not only doing yourself a favor, you are raising awareness about the needs of all with hearing loss. Not to mention that speaking up and asking for help, will give you, and everyone you encounter, a smoother path on which to meander through the hearing world. 

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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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