Hostages not Ostriches

Earlier this year, it was my deaf friend Rosie’s birthday. I had organised a surprise afternoon tea for her in February, but the unprecedented amount of snow completely thwarted our plans!

Due to our crazy lives, always filled with busy weekends, we didn’t get to enjoy the planned ‘birthday tea’ until April. Although by then, it was no longer the surprise I’d hoped for, of course! But Rosie thoroughly enjoyed herself, and that was my aim.

When I get together with deaf friends, we chat for hours and share stories from our childhood, our relationships, and life in general. One such story was so fantastically funny that I have to share it in the hope you’ll love it too!

One of our group of friends, Nikki, was telling us about one of her first dates with her hearing boyfriend.
She described how worried she was about going on a date with a hearing man. She was concerned that she would (as had happened on other occasions) misunderstand what was said.

However, the date started well, and a connection was forming. Until they started discussing recent stories in the news, that is!

He began to talk about the awful, recent news of hostages being found in the basement of a house.

Nikki looked confused, as if she hadn’t quite understood what he’d said. He clarified and then asked, “Are you okay?” She continued to look confused and finally said, “No, I understand, but why was he putting ostriches in the basement? And how did he get them down there?”

One simple word and one simple (hilarious!) misunderstanding had them in fits of laughter a long time after!
Studies show that only 30-45% of English can be understood through lip reading alone, which explains Nikki’s situation and her perception of what was being talked about.

Can you imagine this happening when communicating with your customers? In a clothes retail environment, for example, when asking if your customer would like pockets in their jacket, and they think you have asked them if they need a bucket?! It could, of course, be as hilarious as Nikki’s story, but it could also have a very negative effect on your business.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the outcome of the date…, you’ll be glad to hear that they’re now married and living happily ever after! The confusing and amusing story undoubtedly made their bond even stronger.


Check out the story in our January 2019 Newsletter!