Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Best and the Worst of Probation

I am so confused.

Gallaudet University is placed on probation. When I first learned of it, my heart stopped. It's a bad thing. Gallaudet is heading for the bottom of sea.

But then I went to DeafRead, some rejoiced about the university's probation. They said it's great news, that Gallaudet University is certainly going to keep its accreditation. Gallaudet is finding the ground to stand on.

As I continued on reading blogs/vlogs, I found some who insisted it's bad news. Gallaudet is getting worse, and there's a likely chance that the university will not be accredited anymore. The weight of anchor is pulling the university down.

Two sides of one story. Gallaudet University has neither ground to stand on nor water to drown in. What the heck is going on?

Why is it good for the university to be on probation? It seems to me that the university's probation is an indication of its persisting shaky educational system, but there's people who see it as a sign of Gallaudet taking a turn for better. I do not quite understand.

If a person is on probation, then this person has broken a law. Thus, it's a bad thing for this person to be probated. So, how is it an excellent thing for Gallaudet University to be on probation? I mean, I get it that the fear of losing its accreditation has pushed the university in a right direction, hopefully, and the campus lives in fear for months while stubbornly laboring over prodding their dear university to go to the right tunnel. Then comes the news of probation, and it's a frightening thing, but to some, it's a good thing. How so? What makes it different from being warned about the possibility of losing its accreditation?

I am floating around without any idea how to swim. Help me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Three Ways of Kohl's

Here's another blog spot to stop by and waste your time of the day! Hopefully, this stop will be worth your while :) This post is my first one ever, so please bear with me if it gets so ridiculous for you to continue on reading.

I recently started my job as a sales associate at Kohl's. Exciting, huh? At my first day at work, it immediately dawned at me that being a sales associate is not as easy as taking a breath. I spent hours running around the store, laboring in fitting rooms as I tried to restrain myself from growling at anyone who graciously hang on their unwanted items on the merchandise rack, which rapidly grew fatter and fatter with piles of jeans, halters, tops, etc. Oh, come on, shoppers, why can't you just return your unwanted things in the exact same way as you've found them?!? It would've took tons of burdens off our shoulders!

But it's not the whole point of this entry.

One thing that made me stand out in an army of sales associates, as plain as a blue cow among cows, is my deafness. You see, I can't speak and, to make things worse, I can't lip-read well enough to save my pale neck. Fortunately, I am blessed with an ability to understand body language so fluently that I occasionally con people into marveling over my lip-reading skills. Ha!

Since I first began my job, I cringed at the notion that my supervisor might constantly hover over me, ready to rescue me anytime I get myself in a sticky situation with a hearing customer. I wanted to prove her that I won't need her worrying about me, that I'm perfectly capable to get myself out of any sticky situation by improvising ways to communicate with my customers.

My wish came true today with this awesome customer. This morning, a lovely blonde woman came to me as I grudgingly collected pairs of shorts. I turned to her (don't you love it that deafness comes with a phenomenal sense of sight?) and she immediately pointed to a brown skirt in her arms and mumbled. I nodded (I have this awful tendency of nodding as I understand people even if it's not true!) and frowned at a brown skirt. I pointed to that and gestured, "What's the problem?" The woman continued mumbling, pointing to her own pink skirt that she's wearing then a brown skirt. I recognized both skirts as identical copies of each other in different hues, but I still didn't get the problem. I wondered if she couldn't find a brown skirt of her size and was about to ask that when she instantly pointed at a Capri with the size XL. Ah! So she must be looking for an XL-sized brown skirt! This scene occurred in less than a minute. Just as the woman was about to take notes that I didn't speak vocally, a woman came by and saw us gesturing. She looked at me and smiled, "Aren't you Deaf?" I could see the bulb inside the lovely blonde woman's head went on!

Anyway, to make a long story short (wait, is it too late?), I was sent on a wild trip searching for this brown skirt. By the time the lovely blonde woman came out of the dressing room, I was there, standing with an XL-sized brown skirt in arms and a "See, I can do that!" smile pasted on my face. While the woman profoundly thanked me, my supervisor finally decided it's time to rescue me. She rushed to us and asked, "How may I help you?" Another woman, the clever one who asked me if I was Deaf minutes earlier, stepped in and replied, "Oh, no. Your worker just helped this woman out, and she's thanking her." The lovely blonde woman literally hugged me as she heartily declared, "She's absolutely wonderful!"

And I have to say, this customer was absolutely wonderful, too. She was willing to gesture with me without stopping and going, "Hold on! That seems sketchy. That's it, I'm going to another associate and get a vocal response out of her. That girl with no voice can't help me out at all!"

She belonged to the Worldly Shopper category, a shopper who is able to turn a multilingual affair full of barriers into a simple, monolingual-like situation. How classic!

Another woman later approached me with a pair of jeans and mumbled something. After few seconds of struggling to gesture with her, I finally confessed that I was Deaf and I can't understand her at all unless she's gesturing back. The woman nodded and said (this time, I finally got what her lips dictated), "Oh, I'd take this to another associate. Thanks." Ugh, you're welcome.

This woman was assigned to the Quick-Quack Shopper category. She's desperate for a vocal response and won't take time to make a transition from English into gestures. I could understand that she assumed it will waste her time to gesture, but I do wish she'd realize that gestures take up as much time as English, if not a minute late. At least, she's polite about it. I don't miss her much, though.

An elderly woman picked a white jacket and grimaced, turning to me and mumbling something about how this white jacket was . . . *insert an adjective here* I was about to gesture for more explanation when she shook her head in disappointment, going "Tsk-tsk," and went away. I merely nodded. Seemed like she just needed to say something aloud to get an associate's attention to a certain item's fault. Oh, well, out of millions of clothes in Kohl's, it's not like this item even mattered--and besides, nearly everything was on sale!

She's in the category of the Everything-is-Nothing Shoppers, those who need to express their opinions but ask nothing in return. They are easy to please, I daresay!

Another woman came. If I am an extremist, I'd say she's rude. She came to me and, of course, launched into this completely unintelligible speech, shaking a pair of jeans. I frowned and tried to pull something out of her body language. It turned out that she didn't speak this universal language. She kept shaking a pair of jeans and continued speaking. I raised my hand to signal her to shut up. A frown crawled onto her face, but she went on and on. I eventually emphasized my hand and did this well-worn clue to let her know I'm Deaf and I didn't lip-read. She was taken aback by that. Something told me that she actually took it as a small insult that I couldn't hear her. I tried to tell her that I was willing to help her as long as she's willing to gesture along with me. She took a step away from me as I told her to hold on for a second as I retrieved this beloved notebook of mine. She took several more steps away as I showed her my notebook and suggested we could do that. Pity washed all over her face as she weakly shook her head, "Oh, no, it's OK. I'll leave. I'll go to someone else." Ever after this encounter, she carefully avoided me (yeah, I know, I've seen her taking peeks at me as she rushed past me).

That fine, courteous woman made her way into the category of shoppers who feel victimized by people who are apparently disabled: Poor-Me-Poor-You shoppers. They are unaccustomed in dealing with people who are not like them, and they do not dare to take time to let those people to shatter their carefully guarded realities. I'm sure she did not intend to be rude, maybe "rude" is not even a right word applied to her. Maybe I should say she's being ignorant. Nevertheless, from a subjective perspective, I consider her somehow rude.

Oh, well, c'est la vie. I expected it to happen to me, soon or later.

But, I'm curious, is there any good way in dealing with these varied categories of customers? How did you get through of certain situations with hearing customers? If you're hearing, what ways do you prefer, as a customer, to deal with Deaf workers? What ways would be easy? It'd be fascinating to receive your feedback/suggestions! Thanks :)