Wednesday, June 23

Social Bluffing or ESP?

The post made by Megan of Hearing Sparks about social bluffing (also by Putz, Kym, and Meryl)  has been stuck in back of my mind-- do I do social bluffing? Or because I could understand people so I wasn't social-bluffing? Is it OK? When is it not OK?

Putz defined social bluffing as: "pretending to hear or understand something that is being said, and behaving in a way that shows you understand, even when you have little or no clue as to what is being said."


What if I don't pretend? I never cover up the fact that I am Deaf. I don't use my voice to speak-- I only gestured or signed back to hearing people. What if I could understand them just by reading this body language? Is this still considered "social bluffing"?

Admittedly, there are moments where I initiated the social bluff especially when ordering coffee-- Starbucks is my culprit and I avoid it at all costs now (not because of the social bluff, but their poor coffee). The baristas  shout out the beverages while shooting out beverages onto the counter with no written notes on it (Starbucks Lingo) and they are too busy to look at you while they are answering your question: "What is this?"-- MUMMUMBASHASMUMBLE VANILLA MUMBLEBAUMBLE and I would hesitate to touch it until I am saved by somebody else who had identified that beverage to be theirs. I have stolen maybe... four beverages from somebody else. I am sorry, strangers, for taking your tall Mocha Latte, grande Caramel Macchiato,  grande Vanilla Beans Frappuccino, and venti Vanilla Latte either in San Diego or Washington, DC.

As I added up all social bluffing moments and mis-orders, I decided that I had enough. I have taken the initiatives of avoiding the social bluffing-- make them write down if I couldn't understand what they are saying, or even just ONE word that I am missing which I would write everything I understood from lipreading then point to the "____" for the hearing person to fill out.
I would sign back if they speak to me: "I will like a coffee... or will you prefer me to write?" because I have met cashiers/baristas/waiters/resses who know ASL so that was empowered when they replied: "Oh, I know signs, so what do you want?" and BONUS: the sign of "WRITE" would read as a gesture for non-signers and they could proceed to get a piece of paper for me to write down my order.

However there are moments where I knew what they wanted-- and it wasn't because I lipread but because of their body language. Like I could read their minds.

What promoted me to post  was an incident that occurred just 10 minutes ago. A middle-aged woman was eyeing my table at a tiny coffeehouse (NOT Starbucks). I knew she wanted to ask if she can share the table with me. I looked up and she mumbled something while pointing to the empty chair across to me. I gestured "take a seat" with an outward palm and smiled.  She smiled and dumped her bags (a sunhat, a giant Mac laptop which took 2/3 of my table, and a beach bag. We are in DC! 3 hours away from beaches!). She went up to the counter to order coffee.

I returned to my netbook and typed away.

Moments later, she was back, standing, bending occasionally to seek for something under the table-- as if she is looking for something. Again, I looked up-- she went: "
¿¿MUMBLEMUMBLE??" but I knew she was asking: "is there a plug?"  I raised my eyebrows and nodded then I proceed to pat on the plug sockets on the wall next to me. 

"Oh! Good." was the only coherent thing I could understand from her.

Is this social bluffing? or ESP?


Megan said...

Haha, I think social bluffing itself sometimes ends up being ESP too!

Thanks for the fascinating post. Starbucks and places like Subway are the bane of my existence just because of how hard it is to understand.

melissa said...

I think it's bluffing, but we all do it! I hate ordering at crowded places- I say loudly what I want then I just add the total in my head or hand them a large note..if they have anything else to say then whoever is with me has to tell me. Sometimes I just point to what I want- it's quicker and easier. I'm hoh which makes me think I must be able to hear more than someone who identifies as deaf (am I just being audist there?) but I still struggle.

Karen said...

Thoughtful post! I've made so many guesses in my life in situations like you described in the last paragraph and most of the time it's a right guess because of the situation. If it's accurate and the person gets the answer they're seeking-- home free! But it's still social bluffing because we didn't understand what was said in the first place. If it's not understood and you continue to pretend to understand-- it's social bluffing.

And sometimes old habits are tough to break-- especially when tired and the conversation seems insignificant!

MM said...

Social bluffing mostly, there is no such thing as ESP in deaf people, there is empathy between fellow deaf. As for those deaf who give an impression of following things it's their own fault if that backfires, and no matter what deaf say they STILL use considerable bluff even when hearing are told they are deaf. deaf people still suggest they take in more than they do, they can't help it. Some deaf are so poor at reading anything hearing people say with certainty, they bluff all their lives. They are trapped by their ego, they won't admit they cannot follow 100% in case they look stupid, it's pride basically ! Everyone of us bluffs.