Monday, June 8, 2009

Going Deaf at Duffs

Whenever anyone from the company has to come up to Buffalo on work, we have to feed them.

This being Buffalo, and we being cliches, we inevitably drag them off to Duffs.

The thinking goes like this: Person A comes to Buffalo. Person A must want to try our local cuisine. Our local cuisine consists of Chicken Wings and Beef on Weck. Monday is Chicken Wings, Tuesday Weck. Today is Monday. Real men like hot Chicken Wings. Duffs' wing are really hot! We go to Duffs.

Never mind the fact that there is more to Buffalo than Chicken Wings. Ignore that fact that Person A may be here for is 10th time this year. Obfuscate the fact that hot wings and good wings independent variables. Me Buffalo, Me Wings, Me Hot, Me Duffs. *Sigh*

OK. I don't have anything against Duffs. Alright, it does remind me of a low rent vomitorium and the video games run on diesel, but besides that it's a nice enough place. I'd just like to see a little more depth in our chow.

But that's not why I'm writing today's blog.

The last time we were in Duffs, a person came up to me and handed myself and a couple of other people at the table "deaf cards".

For those of you who don't know, a deaf card is a card that allegedly deaf people hand out at airports as a way to beg for money.

The card usually follows a certain formula: First the introduction "I am a deaf person.", then the pitch "10 bucks would make me feel better about being deaf.", then a blessing "May god bless you for giving me 10 dollars." and then a graphic. Usually the graphic is something like a cartoon angle or a peace sign. I got a smiley face.

The first thing that bothered me is, I'm no where near an airport. We got rules! You street beg on streets, airport beg in airports and PBS beg on the radio. It's all part of the begging ecosystem. What's next, Hare Krishna telethons?

Also, I don't know that the person's deaf. I have no problem giving help to the needy. I'm well aware that with a disconcertingly small number of bad breaks, I could be out on the street. This guy is Alpha/Omega. Either I do good by helping someone out, or I'm encouraging a rodent to make a dishonest living by pretending to be deaf.

Then I notice that everyone at my table is whispering. Whispering? Why would you whisper around a deaf person? We're surrounded by the hearing? If he's stone deaf, like he's professing, then he can't hear us. If he can hear us, then he belongs in the slammer.

And if we're afraid of people hearing us, then why aren't we whispering around the people at the tables all around us? We've been blabbing for an hour. They've heard every word!

Then I had the big epiphany. Why would I give someone $10 for being deaf? This isn't like the 1820s where deaf people starved on street corners. In modern societies there are very few jobs that aren't accessible to the deaf. We have the technology and, I'd like to think, are more enlightened about deafness. Rare is the person who thinks it's a punishment from god.

I'm not saying there still isn't ignorance, I'm just saying it isn't the albatross it once was.

Thinking about it, where I work, every jobs in the building save phone receptionist and security guard could be handled by someone stone deaf. And even that, the security guard who monitors the cameras would have no problems.

Knee jerk simpletons may pretend that I'm picking on deaf people here. They're seeing what they want to see. I freely concede that someone who has a sense, and looses it, suffers. If they have an ability, they use an ability, they loose an ability, they have to adjust their life around the loss. I just don't see where deafness would make an otherwise healthy person into a beggar.

In some cases the loss is tragic. Beethoven never heard is final symphonies. In other cases, not so much. A Sumo wrestling rarely depends on the sense of smell. Neither would require you handing out cards.

On the other hand, what about people who are born deaf? They'll never hear music, but I'll never see magnetism. Am I missing out? No idea. And maybe the born deaf experience a clarity of though and tranquility of mind that I'll never know in my noise filled head. Again, no idea. Either way it ain't worth $10.

Because I pointed out that the deaf shouldn't be pitied, everyone at work now thinks that I'm a kitten burning poltroon of the worst stripe. Far from feeling like a wag, I think that I'm being more enlightened than most.

I also noticed that none of them gave the beggar any money. Ya' hear what I'm saying?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't hear you