Tuesday, February 12, 2013

To Go Between Or Not To Go Between: That's The Question

In the hearing world:

Out of my corner of my eyes, I see a person shuffling their feet uncomfortably, and the eyes shifted around trying to find a different way to go around my friend, and I. Failing to find any way to go around us, the person shuffles the feet once again. This moment last for a few seconds. It is becoming distracting. Finally, I acknowledge the person by us, and waved him/her to go between us. The person often hesitates, not wanting to be perceived as rude, or to interrupt our signed conversation, and I finally insist on allowing the person come. The person grins awkwardly as thank you, and waved the hand to acknowledge us then hurries as fast as possible through us. My friend, and I shook our heads, and once again resumes our conversation.

In the Deaf world:

My friend and I are signing, and in a deep conversation. Other Deaf person approaches us without any signs of slowing down. We see the person approaching us out of corner of our eyes, and widens the space between ourselves to allow a trafficking path to open up. The Deaf person acknowledges us with a smile or a hello as he/she walks past us. After he/she has passed us, we narrows the space between ourselves, and picks up where we have left off. 

I find it interesting how both of the worlds differ when I am in them. Many hearing people hesitate to walk between two conversing signers, whether if they both are Deaf or not, because they do not want to come off as rude. Matter of fact, hearing people go to extreme measures to try bypass the signers in order to avoid from interrupting them. The norm in the hearing world is to give the conversing people a privacy. It is considered a faux pas to cut in the middle of people's conversation. Also, the norm in the hearing world is to respect the space. If there is a couple with no gap space between them to allow others to join in the conversation, or seem to exhibit signs warranting for a privacy then it is an obvious signal to leave them alone. Otherwise, you are considered to be eavesdropping them. 

In the Deaf world, if there is a couple chatting then it's okay to join in the conversation whether you know them or not, and it is okay to walk between the signers deep in conversation while excusing yourself. 

What we do consider to be rude is: 

You standing there, pacing, and staring at us. It is a huge distraction. It puts us on an awkward spot. We wonder what you want from us. It increases the awkwardness, and it begins to get uncomfortable as minutes start to tick by. On top of this, it actually interrupts our conversation to have you stand there and pace. 

Just walk right to us, say excuse me (not knowing sign language is not an excuse. Just speak it out loud and gesture your presence), and we will move a bit more to give you girth to walk through us. We thank you for your quick pass-by. Then we pick up from where we left off. All this takes a minute at most. 

With all this in the mind, when I saw the comic strip with Harry Potter using his invisible robe to cut between Deaf people signing in a conversation,, that caused me have a really good laugh!