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Show Me a Sign

This story about a Starbucks barista learning some signs for a Deaf customer got a lot of attention last week. A few things that come to mind:

  1. This story is a better story about quality cusomter service than it is about compassion. The Deaf man is excited about feeling included in a small yet meaningful way, while hearing culture with a medical model'of hearing loss view it not as a hearing person "helping" someone.

  2. This story has the chance to tell the Deaf customer's story, but instead it's all about the hearing person. Her efforts are worth commending, to be sure, but this is hearing people's story about a hearing person.

  3. When I was studying to become an interpreter, I lost count of the number of times people told me how wonderful it was that I was learning ASL. Ask Deaf people how often they're told the same, and the numbers may come as a surprise.

In the meantime, consider taking a moment to get more acquainted with Deaf culture.

★ Making it a point to live.

In light of the recent news out of Newtown, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be alive. My department had a holiday party last Saturday, and I brought my camera along for the occasion. I uploaded the photos to my computer today, and looking at them made me realize something: I love the people I work with, and I love that an excuse for a group dinner was filled with so much life. Even in those moments, I didn't realize how much fun everyone was having. It took me removing myself for a bit and looking at life through the lens of a camera to really make it clear to me.

Plates, wine glasses, strings of lights, silverware. All served as the backdrop for a scene now just a memory. It was my first time wielding my camera in front of a group of people, and my first time using it to really capture moments in time. The graininess of the shots bother me less than I imagined they would; I like the way it reminds me of what it felt like to be there. I like how the colors of clothes are changed by the soft lighting. I like seeing pictures of people laughing, or thinking, or clearly lost in thought or in conversation. I like these things more than simple smiles into the camera, because nothing was paused for the sake of a snapshot.

I see these moments and I cherish them. I think of the children whose lives were taken from them, and it takes my breath away. My heart goes out to all those touched by this tragedy.