T’was 10 Days Afore Xmas

Photo is of a trades man in his orange trade shirt. His head is shaven and his sunglasses are on his head. He has a look of extreme surprise, even fear.

Xmas time is frantic. More so if you have changed jobs, have to move interstate and prepare your Adelaide house for the AirBnB market. Being deaf can make this a big challenge too. Luckily, I now have a captioned mobile phone where I can make and receive voice calls and this is saving me heaps of time. But there is Covid and all of the communication issues and restrictions that it brings with it.

To make matters worse, I have building repairs to do on my house in Adelaide. Luckily,it’s covered by insurance but its a big job. It took a long time to organise. The process started in June 1975 and the builders have just arrived today. I jest, it was actually June 2021, but it feels that long.

Last week I finally moved back to Melbourne for good. The last few weeks I have been toing and froing, It’s a real pain in these Covid times because each time I arrive back in South Australia I have to have a Covid Test at least 72 hours before I leave. Of course testing brings with it masks and masks with it communication issues. Most of the Covid Testers are great but some are kind of, to put it mildly, thick.

The simple thing is to show us the questions on the iPad, we then respond. Deaf who speak well can verbalise , those less confident in their speech type answers on their phone and so on. It is not rocket science. There is always this one person that thinks we can some how hear them and when it becomes obvious that we cant, they resort to pantomime that often makes no sense at all. Over exaggerated mime to show that they are going to stick something up your nose can be hilarious. More often it just gets on your nerves.

If you drive into Adelaide you have to deal with the border control. If you fly you are dealing with security, air hostesses and so on. All replete in masks requiring you to tell them you are deaf, cannot hear them and have to lipread them. The number that continue to talk through their masks, even when you tell them this, is mind boggling, A simple trip to SA, either driving or by plane, becomes a communication logistical nightmare. I don’t know about my Deaf and hard of hearing friends, but it leaves me feeling pretty exhausted.

Today, 15th December, was something else altogether. Let me tell you the tale.

I took off for Tullamarine at 5am. My poor and tired wife had to drop me off and then go to work. I got through security with not one of them willing to remove their mask to assist with communication and all of them trying to speak to me through their masks. One actually stood closer to my ear and, presumably, had a bit of a yell before realising that this was futile.

Jetstar staff were much nicer. They didn’t remove their masks but pointed to relevant things and helped me on my way. The flight was uneventful. I was surprised at how lax the Adelaide airport security was. No checks. They just waved us through. I headed to Hertz to pick up the hire car.

It was just my luck I got a trainee. But, she was brilliant. Again, she didn’t remove her mask. However, because it was quiet at Hertz I was able to use Live Transcribe on my phone. She spoke clearly to my phone so that her voice was transcribed. This allowed me to answer the relevant questions. She then took me to my car, pointed to relevant areas, showed me how to use the key and I was away.

Next stop was Covid Testing. Although I had tested negative before leaving one of the conditions of entry to SA is that I get tested as soon as I arrived. Once I am tested I am free to mingle. If I test positive I must immediately quarantine. Highly unlikely given that I am double vaccinated and just had a negative test but possible. So I drove to Bedford Park where the ever obliging testing staff just showed me the questions on the iPad for me to respond, swabbed me and sent me on my merry way.

It’s not yet 8am and I have navigated all of this. I set off for home where the builders are doing the repairs. As I leave the testing station my phone flashes. I pull over and use my trusty Google Pixel Captioned Phone to answer. It’s the builder, who has been told to text not call. He, of course, calls. Luckily, the captioned phones means that I can speak to him. His boss has neglected to give him the pin to the key safe. “We are at the front door mate”, he says. I give him the pin and let him know I had flown in, was getting tested and would be there soon.

It’s a beautiful drive to my house. Beautiful views of the sea, the sun is shining and all is right in the world. I arrive at my home and one of the tradies approaches me, replete with industrial mask. I assume this is because of the dust as he had been pulling off plasterboard.

I cheerily greet him. As I approach he tells me to stop. Big hand gesture telling me to stop. He points to me, he points to him and gives me a gesture that clearly says I’m not to approach any closer. He starts talking to me through his mask, of course. I let him know that I cant hear him and have to lipread. He starts a pantomime which is clearly a plane. Picture a little boy, arms outstretched, rocking from side to side in clear imitation of a flying plane. That’s our tradie.

So anyway, I says yes, I’ve flown in from Victoria. He starts talking through his mask again and shaking his head vigorously. One assumes he is saying NO … something. I tell him its no good, he will have to remove his mask so I can lipread him. He takes three steps back removes his mask and begins speaking,

I resist the temptation to pretend to need binoculars to lipread him. He asks if I have been tested . I tell him yes, on the Monday and that it was negative. I tell him not worry about me, I was just going upstairs to work. Meanwhile, his work mate is across the road looking across at me, very agitated and seemingly scared. I give him a wave and head upstairs.

I settle down to respond to staff and emails and all the things you do as a team leader. Ten minutes later there is a text from my tradie mate. He wants proof that I tested negative. So I come down stairs and he is sitting in his truck. I presume its smoko time. I find the SMS message telling me that I am negative and make my way to his truck.

He is a bit away with the fairies. I knock on his window. He turns round to see me and literally jumps back in fright. He gestures at me to go away, move back. This I do and he quickly gets out of the car and runs five metres up the road telling me to stay. His workmate has got out of his car and run even further up the road looking absolutely petrified. I give him another wave. To be honest, he looks like he might weep with fright.

Th tradie removes his mask. With a combination exaggerated lip movements and more plane pantomime tells me that I’ve been on a plane. He doesn’t care about my negative test. I might have caught Covid on the plane and that he is leaving. I point out that I am double vaccinated and even if I did catch it on the plane, I would not yet be infectious. I offer to leave and come back later.

He said something that lipread distinctly as “No fucking way”. He says that he will come back on Saturday and finish the work. By this time I am thoroughly fed up. I tell him to do whatever he likes and that I was heading upstairs to work. And that’s what I did. He and his mate left too, leaving behind a very expensive ladder and some tools. Presumably, because I may have touched them and they would catch the dreaded virus from them. I am in the mood to put them on Ebay and make a profit, that’s how fed-up I am.

About half an hour later I get an email from the tradies boss. Basically berating me for putting his staff at risk. I email back stating that this is incorrect, that I have followed all protocols and am not required to isolate. Point him to the relevant internet pages to consult and resist the temptation to tell him to go fuck himself.

To his credit he emails me back. tells me I was absolutely correct and that I had done nothing wrong. He says in the interest of safety, his team will return on Saturday, when I am gone.

And that, dear readers, was my day. Merry Xmas! – I think. Oh, and a little later I got my third shot! GO ME!!!


3 thoughts on “T’was 10 Days Afore Xmas

  1. Yes, very frustrating, exhausting and never ending. I’ve written many notes on my phone and paper to ask them to either write back or remove masks to which they leave their masks on and mumble further. I simply walk away. I totally get it but they don’t!!! I then get the patronising pantomime using over exaggerated gestures which are quite comical! Or I get the special treatment as if I do not possess a brain whatsoever

  2. Yesterday I took my son to the ED to have some stitches out. By the time I had finished with NSW H wealth I was ready to scream. I encountered about 7 staff and each time I tell them I need to lip read and only ONE person -who was be hind a screen – did the right thing and took her mask off. I showed them the directive from Health and they still refused to help. Very poor effort!

  3. I’m 80% deaf. Getting sick of masks as I miss 80% of what is said to me and I realise now just how much I relied on lip reading. I’ve been like this forever but all of a sudden I feel quite disabled .

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