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Wait for the Beep

Snippets in time from my legally deaf life.

“You a voodoo cat?”.

Oh, shit.

I know that the barista didn’t ask if I was a voodoo cat. Seriously, I do. Theoretically — being in Portland and all — it wouldn’t be an out-of-the-ordinary thing to be called, but I’m putting my money on my not hearing them correctly. It happens. A lot.

The ten minutes I invested eyeing the counter before walking in? They helped me lock in six questions that seemed de rigueur for this coffee shop. I just need to get past this intro bit so that I can — hopefully not too loudly — ask for a double cap on the go, pay, give my thanks, and hightail it out of here. In order of likelihood, this is what I am ready for: Hi! (Aye). How are you? (Ow-arr-uuu). What would you like? (Ut-uuu-ike). Iced? (Ike-d). I’ll be right back! (Eye-be-ike-ack). Anything else? (Any-ing-els).

No voodoo. No cats.

My nerves are starting to click and flight is quickly beating out fight in my mind… but damn, I really want a coffee. I’m an adult, I’ve kept my kid alive for almost 15 years, and my dog has been watered daily (except for that one time). I can order a coffee in a coffee shop like anyone else. Really, I can.

A hand — legit in my bubble, not cool — reaches over my shoulder right as the barista hands me a lid. Wait, hold that, the barista is handing the lid to the hand… I got it! “Do you need a lid for that?”, not “you a voodoo cat?”. Ha. My brain definitely got creative trying to solve that one. Thanks, brain.

The barista’s eyes are right on me now and their eyebrows are raised in query mode. This is a major win everyone, major win. I can now dive straight to ordering without the requisite pre-order banter. So, so much less stressful for all involved. It’s not that I don’t like banter or chatting — I actually love to chat and am notorious for spinning 30 conversations from one train of thought — but in a noisy coffee shop? Simply not the kind of place I’ll ever successfully carry my own in a conversation.

Coffee in hand — yes, thanks given — out the door I go for a whopping ten steps before turning into my target of the morning: the print shop. Goodness, I love the smell of a print shop! I love the hum as well, it feels like the building is alive and breathing.

Straight away I spy my name written on the board behind the desk. My ears? Absolute crap. My eyes? Laser sharp.


Gone to get a bite. Punch code in @ elevator, wait for beep, hit 3rd floor. See ya soon!


Up to the elevator bay I go, punch in the code, waiting for the beep...

Oh, shit.

By Isa Baeck


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