Deaf Coffee Frustrations

Discussion in 'Our World, Our Culture' started by joycem137, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. joycem137

    joycem137 New Member

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    I was disappointed with the behavior of the coffee house staff at the local Deaf Coffee this past Friday.

    While I was standing in line to buy coffee, the man in front of me was asking the clerk for something. I couldn't make out what he asked her, but she's bringing him, like, everything in the world, from a pot of milk to a cup. She clearly doesn't understand his request, and he's becoming visibly upset by her inability to understand him.

    Finally, he points at the receipt machine, so the clerk figures that he wants a copy of the receipt. But there's some sort of problem with the computer, and she's having trouble bringing up the receipt on the computer. After a few minutes of standing there, without explanation or comment, they give up and tell the guy that they can't give him a receipt, without any clarification or explanation. He leaves in frustration, saying something else that I didn't catch, but it seemed upset and frustrated.

    I step forward in line, and the woman, thinking that I'm not attending the Deaf Coffee night, apologizes to me about the delay saying, "Sorry about that. He's deaf."

    I sort of stared, agape, thinking, "You're apologizing *for him* when you were the one barely making any effort to understand what he was asking for?! What?! " I really didn't know how to react, and my coffee arrived shortly thereafter, so I just walked away.

    I was also surprised towards the end of the night when they thought the best way to get everyone's attention to let them know that the store was closing was to shout such at the top of their lungs. It really seemed not the best way to get the message across as I imagine many of the people there would not have noticed him yelling.

    I'm thinking about stopping in and saying something to their management about it, as it really seems like they need some help understanding how to be respectful with deaf customers. More than that, I'm just really upset that the clerk blamed her communication problems on the guy in front of me, and felt it necessary to apologize on his behalf.
     
  2. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you that if I were in that situation, I would most definately ask to have a conversation with the manager, and offer to come in and do some employee education. I would explain that the deaf coffee get togethers are profit making for them, and the better the deaf are treated the more the word will go out and the more customers will come in. If you address it as a financial thing, they are usually more receptive than if you come at it from a social justice perspective. (Sad thing about our society; money is of higher priority than people.)

    I can certainly understand why you were upset watching all of this take place. I would have been, as well. Do as your conscience leads you. That is always the best way.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  3. Beowulf

    Beowulf Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    If I do as my conscious tells me, I would be a raging bull in the shop with the aftermath of broken dishes and cups everywhere and the red mist slowly settling down. If I do what my conscience tells me, though, I would take your advice. :lol:
     
  4. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    Oops!:laugh2: Too much reading research on transcranial magnetic stimulation in schizophrenia. :giggle: Focused on conscious and unconscious.
     
  5. TWA

    TWA New Member Premium Member

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    Well, first of all, that deaf guy needs to learn how to better communicate with clueless hearies. Why in the world was he playing along with her stupid game of show and tell? Come on! He should have written out what he was requesting on a phone or notepad once it was obvious the hearie was a moron. In DC, this kind of thing never happens. If communication can't be established in the first couple exchanges, a piece of paper/menu is exchanged and that's that. Or the guy could have just written out his request prior to stepping up to the counter. What was he expecting? :roll: And it's not like the woman was yelling at him and scolding him. Based on the OP, the woman was genuinely trying to be helpful, though obviously clueless. Deaf people have a responsibility to guide hearies in communicating with them when the hearie is being sympathetic and wants to help. I give a FAIL to the deaf guy in this case.

    Moving along. The woman apologizing for the man is misplaced, of course, but she was probably embarrassed by her ineptitude and was trying to push the blame on someone else in order to save face. Understandable, but not acceptable.

    Yelling at a group of deaf people to let them know it's time to leave? Absolutely not acceptable.

    One thing is clear: the staff of this coffee shop needs to be trained in interacting with deaf customers. Why not arrange for a meeting between a couple of leaders of the Deaf coffee group and the managers and staff of the shop? This is what I did when I was trying to get open captions implemented at a local movie theater. The manager actually invited me to come speak with his entire staff. I was honored he made the request, but I brought along my friend who does not speak/read lips and uses an interpreter so they could see that not all deaf people communicate the same way. We talked to them about how to effectively serve deaf/hoh customers. They were grateful and said they really appreciated it. You can do the same with this coffee house. Just avoid being confrontational and accusatory.
     
  6. dereksbicycles

    dereksbicycles Active Member

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    Why not just point to cash register or the printout that receipt was needed? Was this person pointing to everything else out there that had nothing to do with receipt??
     
  7. TWA

    TWA New Member Premium Member

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    Good point. But that action doesn't really convey what was needed. This request went a little beyond the usually point and receive routine. The Deaf man should have been prepared for that.

    Obviously the OP is lacking a little information.
     
  8. joycem137

    joycem137 New Member

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    Aye. I came in half way through the conversation between the two, and I couldn't follow most of the exchange, as my CAPD was acting up in the noisy, echoey environment. I only caught a little bit, so I don't know what the whole story was on the conversation happening there.

    I'm just annoyed that she decided to comment on it to me, really.

    "I'm sorry, he's deaf." seems really rude.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  9. dereksbicycles

    dereksbicycles Active Member

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    Why not just pull out a receipt out of your pocket. Just any receipt...just show the receipt and then point to cash register. Problem solved. Receipt given.
     
  10. TWA

    TWA New Member Premium Member

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    No, dude, that does not solve the problem. How is someone supposed to know that you want a copy of the receipt by doing that? They could interpret that in any number of ways. Need to be more clear.
     
  11. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    I agree. Aplogizing like that to another customer is insensitive and patronizing. She needs a lesson in common curtesy and respect.
     
  12. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    The least of the problem here was a lack of understanding. The problem is the staff's patronizing attitude toward the deaf. It is the responsibility of both to remove communication barriers. The problem was the fact that this worker thought it was appropriate to apologize to another customer for this man's deafness, as if he, and only he, were responsible for the difficulty. The problem is that this staff member assumed that everyone else was as intolerant and uncooperative as she herself was.
     
  13. rockin'robin

    rockin'robin Well-Known Member

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    Well, maybe the clerk did stick her foot in her mouth....I just feel it wasn't intentionally....Clerks are taught to say "I'm Sorry" a lot to the customers if there is a long wait...or whatever....If the deafie would have wrote down exactly what he needed, all this much ado about it would not have happened!

    She (the clerk) was probably a young girl...and all I would have said back to her was...."No worries!...I'm deaf also"....I do feel the clerk was not actually apologizing for the deafie becuz he was deaf....she was just apologizing for the wait....(not understanding what the deafie needed). .....

    I've seen many many deafies trying to make their order to a clerk and the clerk could not understand them...hence, a pad and pen would suffice...and the clerk says over and over "I'm sorry"....but "what?".....

    As for the shouting that the store was about to be closed....seems just dimming the lights would have worked......Seems to me most people do know what time most stores do close wherever they go.....the workers there want to go home too....
     
  14. TWA

    TWA New Member Premium Member

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    Communication is ALWAYS a two-way street. We are certainly within reason to berate the clerk for insensitive behavior, but we need to separate that from the other situation here, which is that the deaf man failed to appropriately facilitate communication just as much as the hearing person failed.
     
  15. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    I doubt that it was intentional. That is why training would be beneficial. So she would understand what is appropriate and what isn't.
     
  16. rolling7

    rolling7 New Member

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    Was management aware and give permission for there to be a Deaf Coffee Chat? Here in Houston we have three a month and we always inform and get permission from management to be allow to use the establishment. By planning ahead this type of problem is always avoided. Reads like someone dropped the ball in the OP.
     
  17. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    Yes, it is always a two way street. Which is why I said that no single person was responsible for the difficulty with the communication.
     
  18. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    Why in the world would they need permission to use a restaurant that is open to the public and spend their money. That is just absurd.
     
  19. joycem137

    joycem137 New Member

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    I sent a letter to the organizer about it, but I don't know anything further. I'm sure all is well. She seems like she's got a handle on things, and expressed some of the same sentiments seen here.

    My girlfriend, who used to go to this deaf coffee when she was studying ASL, said that the staff used to better about this stuff and was surprised to hear that they were being less good lately.
     
  20. joycem137

    joycem137 New Member

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    Well, it is a large, multi-hour social gathering, not just a small group meeting or something. I figure any group of that size would need special permission to hold it there, or at least need to communicate with the staff, which I'm sure they've done. They've been doing this for 10 years there.
     

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