Saturday, 7 June 2008

Oh telephone, telephone... How I hate you

A common thing among stutterers, a situation which those who don't stutter can't empathise with. Oh yes, the infamous telephone conversation! I know you all hate it just as much as I do...

I remember when I was young I would love to answer the phone, back in the days where my stutter didn't really concern me as a "disability". Nowadays, I dread it. For those of you who don't know; I'm just about nearing the end of my first year of a Bachelors degree at university. So, I live in university halls.

Anyway! A couple months ago I couldn't be bothered to make food and was craving a bit of oriental food. Simple no? Just get someone else to order with you and you have the telephone situation avoided. I went upstairs to some of my friends and sure enough convinced them to get some. So after about 30 minutes of choosing which one and what to get... came the moment. The telephone conversation! I instantly scream "SHOTGUN NOT IT!" (thank god I didn't stutter there :D) This is followed by the two out of three remaining people shouting it. Eventually, the last one said she wasn't calling them. Why? I don't really know why and I don't even think she knew why. I said I didn't want to, thinking it was pretty clear why... This was followed by another guy who didn't want to because he's scared of getting the order wrong... fair enough, least that's a reason. And the last person usually did the calling but was fed up.

So here we are:

1 Stutterer
1 Person who doesn't know why she doesn't want to call
1 Person who is scared of getting the order wrong
1 Person who always calls and is fed up of calling.

Well seems pretty clear doesn't it? The first person definitely won't be asked on. Wrong.

They seemed to keep telling me to call them as it was my idea for us to get takeout. Duuh! Because I don't want to call them! So I straight up told them I don't want to call them because I stutter.


I was actually speechless.. not because I had a block but because I couldn't imagine someone would lack so much empathy. And they weren't the only ones. There were other people in the kitchen at the time who had said similar remarks when I told them I didn't want to phone, because I stuttered. In short, an hour later, nobody had called, and I ended up eating some snacks for dinner.

What struck me most about that situation was that they were surprised that my stutter would be an issue... "Let's get the guy who stutters rather than the guy who is scared of getting an order wrong to order!". I mean, for crying out loud, people sometimes mistake what I say when I order stuff because I don't enunciate (so to prevent the stutter), but apparently I'll be flawless in a phone conversation?

In the whole year, I've probably been asked to call every single time we've ordered out. I guess I should be glad they see my situation as equal, but it isn't though is it? I have ordered on a couple occasions and they generally went ok but why put someone outside their comfort zone when they don't want to? It's one of the things, regarding my stutter and how people react to it, that has bothered me in the past year.

On a brighter note, I had to talk to a French gentleman to get a booking altered and I actually managed to say my details! Including my name! Card numbers! And dates! In some fluent matter...

Damn telephones...

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