I forgot my iPod at work yesterday, so I was hoping for something exciting to happen on this morning’s bus travels. I was very perceptive to the things going on around me, but today proved itself to be quieter than usual. I think it’s because I wanted a buscapade to occur. It’s like the watched pot that never boils.
Let things come to you.
I tried to enjoy the silence and do some reading, but I got distracted on the third bus to work when I ironically found myself sitting behind a group of four deaf teenagers. I watched them talk to each other in Sign; they were laughing and having a good time.
Watching them made me think about how grateful I am to have my hearing, and how on so many days I ride the bus listening to music, yet these deaf kids have never even heard music. I thought about what it would be like to live in a world of silence. A fire engine passed by with its sirens wailing and I wondered if they could hear that.
Could they hear each other laughing?
While in the midst my deaf people thoughts there suddenly was a clacking sound to my right. I looked over and was disturbed to discover the sound was coming from the jaw of the man sitting across the aisle from me. It looked like his jaw joints were off track, and his lower mandible was protruding out farther than the upper jaw bone.
The clacking noise was caused by his mouth constantly opening and closing, and it really sounded as though he had wooden teeth, just like George Washington, or a ventriloquist’s doll. The whole situation was a little too much for me and I wanted to get off the bus. I thought about moving to the back, to get away from the sound, but I ended up putting my finger in my ear and hummed until the clacking ceased.
As much as I didn’t like sound or thought of this guy’s jaw rattling with the bumps in the road, I knew tolerating that was better than being deaf. It makes me think of a poem I did not write but have known since middle school:
“The sun was shining in my eyes and I could barely see,
To do the necessary task that was allotted me.
Resentment of the vivid glow, I started to complain,
When all at once upon the ground I heard a blind man’s cane.”