Most people I know hate alarm clocks. They have all manner of alarm clocks to wake them up. Sometimes they use the old fashioned type that let out a shrill ring that alerts the sleeper that it is time to get up and face the day. Others have their alarm set to their favourite music or radio station so that they wake up to something pleasant. Me? I have an iPhone under the pillow that vibrates in such a way as to want to throw it against a wall when it wakes me so that it smashes into a thousand pieces. Of late it wakes me up at 5.15am so that I can get on the 6.15am train for the long trek between Ballarat and Lilydale. I can have a flashing light if I want, but that is equally irritating. The iPhone works just fine.
This takes me back to the day when I was interviewed for a place at Durham University. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into teaching there but could not find the finance to follow it through. The University had a support unit especially for the deaf. This was kind of a novelty back in 1984. I was interviewed by the Coordinator of the Unit. If I had taken up the offer I would have been residing at the University. The Coordinator asked me an astonishing question. “If you reside here Gary ..”, he asked, “.. Would you like a flasher by the bedside of a vibrator under the mattress.” True story! It took all of my will power to keep a straight face.
So anyway I wake up and shower. If I have time I catch some of the news with captions on the TV before I go. I hop in the car and head off to the train station. My routine is to grab a breakfast wrap and a coffee. When you are deaf ordering breakfast is always more complicated than it seems. Of course the coffee machine is going loudly and you don’t speak loud enough because you have not heard this in the background. Often the assistant mishears you and you get something you didn’t order like a fruit platter or strawberry yoghurt. Rather than have to go through the whole charade of communicating again one just accepts what is given and eats it. Hell it is not yet 6am and at that hour who can be bothered.
Of course the person at the counter has to ask questions. A simple request for a black coffee comes with it a Spanish inquisition as the counter assistant tries to clarify how you want your coffee. Of course the person at the counter is nearly always difficult to lip read. The conversation goes something along these lines:
Me: Black coffee please
Not understanding a word and being too tired to bother with clarification I use the age old deaf tactic of nodding and hope to the high heavens that this is the answer that they require. Usually what follows is an odd look because the question was either, “Do you want a long or a short black?” or “Do you want a large or small coffee?” Nodding, of course, is not the right option. Unfortunately phone a friend wasn’t available either.
Or worse they ask you if you want sugar with it and by nodding you end up with sugar that you do not want. It gets to a point where to avoid the need to answer all these questions and thereby have to concentrate hard at this god awful hour you ask for coffee and outline all your options like this: “ I’ll have a black coffee, small, long black, no sugar …”
And of course today you have said this bellowing at the top of your lungs because in the past the coffee machine had been so loud that they had not heard you. Only today you have come in so early that they have yet to turn the coffee machine on. You know this because the poor counter assistant has taken a step back so as to not end up with a perforated eardrum as you bellow your order at them. A glance round and you will see the looks of your fellow passengers who think you are a complete nutter for yelling out your order at the top of your voice.
Anyway, coffee had, breakfast eaten I hop on the train. I am very unsociable on the train. On my trusty iPad I have all the latest newspapers ready to read. World issues, sport and more sport, particularly English Premier League, are top of my agenda to read. I do not, I repeat do not, want to talk to anyone. But as is my luck, of all the people on the train, a little old woman sits next to me and wants to chat. I dismiss her by tapping my ears and giving her an apologetic look. Her face drops and she is deflated. The only thing that I understand is at the end when she says, “You poor thing ….”
Of course before I can even begin to read the newspapers I have fallen asleep because I am so tired. I am dreaming about the weekend. It is a lovely day. I am walking down the first fairway of Bunninyong Golf Club. Behind me, in front of me and every where are my two dogs, Tramp and Hermione. They are chasing anything and everything that moves. I have hit a wonderful 2 75 yard drive down the middle. I am lining up my second shot. It’s gonna be a birdie for sure. As I am about to hit my shot a long finger pokes me in the shoulder and wakes me up.
It is the conductor and he wants my ticket. He has been calling me and I have slept on unknowing. He is giving me a suspicious look. He clearly does not believe that I was asleep. He feels that I was ignoring him and thinks that I am a fare evader. I hurriedly get my ticket from the wallet and show it to him. He nods and makes his way up the aisle to check the other passengers. Of course he didn’t think that I was a fare evader at all but the paranoia of deafness sometimes makes me fear the worst.
Eventually the train arrives at Southern Cross. I scurry along as quickly as I am able without running. The Lilydale line is Platform 10. A quick stop for another coffee and I arrive on the platform with five minutes to spare. I look to the information screen to check which train is next. An expletive forms in my head – the message says to listen for announcements.
I quickly check my Metro iPad app to see if there are any updates about the Lilydale line. To my horror there are none. I look frantically for a Met worker so that I can find out what is happening. Thankfully I get a deaf friendly one who writes down all the information for me. I am to catch any train to Flinders and hop on the Lilydale train there. The City Loop is not running for whatever reason.
I get to Flinders and find the platform for my train. I look to the screen which assures me that the Lilydale train is next. A train is coming and I look to the screen again. It says it is the Glen Waverley Train. Confused I find a Met worker to see what is going on. Apparently an announcement was made and the Lilydale line has moved to Platform 3. I look to Platform 3 to see the Lilydale train just leaving. I resist the urge to break something.
Wearily I get out my trusty iPad. I fire an email to my boss. I am not going to make the 9am meeting. The interpreters, oh god the interpreters, I have to let them know too. I send Nic a text but the interpreters are already on their way. That is $343 down the drain.
I am buggered and the workday has not yet begun ….