The lost battery
“No, no, no, and no!”
In disbelief, I stare at my empty hand, which until just now contained a small, button-shaped, silver battery.
I, a middle-aged woman and a hearing aid wearer since the age of 18, a veteran of changing hearing aid batteries, have dropped my new battery on the floor of a busy tram. You might think that I’d better get another one. Yes, you would be right, if this had not been the last battery in my handbag and if I was not expected to give a guest lecture at a school.
As a moderator for an organisation of and for people with disabilities, I regularly give workshops for people working in the service sector and give guest lectures at schools as part of an awareness-raising project. There, I talk about my hearing impairment, answer their questions and try to dispel fears and prejudices about hearing impairment among people with good hearing.
Unfortunately, this morning before I left, I forgot to check how many batteries I still had with me, with the result that I now have to get through the day with one batteryless ear.
Returning home to get more batteries is not an option: I am almost at my destination. I am a stranger here and cannot think of an audiologist in the neighbourhood, so buying batteries is out of the question too.
I feel stupid and powerless and look again at the tram floor, as if the battery suddenly appears and grins “Hi, just kidding, I’m back!” Of course it won´t, it is small and round, rolls in all directions or makes itself invisible. My battery is and stays gone.
My body is rumbling, my blood pressure is probably too high at the moment and this time it is not because of Menopause!
I can’t think calmly anymore, questions are spinning in my head. Why does this have to happen to me now? What do I have to do now? How can I give my guest lecture if I can’t understand the children? Won’t I look like a fool in front of the class?
Unconcentrated, I glance at the screen with the stops at the front of the tram. I have to get off at the next stop, as I can see just in time.
One last time, I take a look at the tramfloor. No, no battery.
When I walk into the classroom of the class to which I’ll be giving my guest lesson, I see that Kees is already setting up a beamer on a stand.
“Good morning,” I greet him, a little embarrassed and not cheerful as usual.
“Hey, good morning!” He turns around.
“What’s wrong with you? Nervous?” asks Kees.
Of course I don’t understand him with one ear, but read the question in his kind eyes. Kees is the coordinator of the awareness project I work for and is always present at workshops or guest lectures. He takes good care of his moderators, supports them where he can and always gives good feedback. I like him.
“I just lost my last working battery in the tram, when I wanted to exchange my dead battery. Now I have no batteries and can hardly hear anything in my right ear,” I inform him.
“How am I supposed to teach now? I can’t, can I?”
Kees must hear the desperation in my voice, because he looks at me reassuringly. I even read a hint of humour in his eyes.
“Isn’t this exactly what the pupils expect from someone with a hearing impairment? That this person does not understand them or understands them with difficulty? My advice? Just start teaching as planned. I’ll help you with the questions.”
At the moment I definitely have a disability: without a battery I can hardly hear anything in my right ear! Because I am lucky that I still function reasonably well with my residual hearing and hearing aids, I am not used to this during the day. And the worst thing of all is that now I cannot use my auxiliary equipment, a microphone and receiver, because they are linked to the Bluetooth in my hearing aids.
I feel helpless, terribly insecure and would rather run away.
But then the first pupils enter the classroom and there is no way back. When the class teacher comes to greet me, I briefly explain my situation to her. She shows understanding. “How can I help?” she asks.
“Could you perhaps write all the questions on the schoolboard for me during the question rounds?”
My creativity happily resurfaces.
A little more reassured, I begin my lesson. First, I sign voiceless a sentence and the students may guess what my signing meant. Then I introduce myself and talk about my many middle ear infections that led to my first hearing loss, then about the road to my first hearing aid, my further deterioration of hearing, which caused me to be classified from moderately to severely hearing impaired, and about my experiences afterwards.
During the first round of questions, Kees tells the teacher that she can stay seated and it is he who writes down the questions for me. Fortunately, this works well!
The class is interested and I have a lot of questions to answer. The teacher makes sure that the questions are asked one by one.
I slowly feel my confidence returning.
Then suddenly I feel something hit my head. A ball of paper falls at my feet. I look around the class and see some giggling here and there. The teacher is writing on a notepad on the table in front of her and doesn’t notice anything.
I decide to ignore the paper ball and continue with my theory section. When I feel something hit my head again, I stop in the middle of a sentence.
“There are other ways to get my attention, you know” I joke, but suddenly sweat runs down my back and my hands get wet.
The teacher looks up from her notes.
I pick up one of the paper balls and show it to her and the class.
“Who was that?” Angry, the teacher looks at her students.
“Joop, you?” Joop denies in all tones. His gaze drifts to a girl with long dark hair and a narrow rosy face.”Janneke?” Guiltily, Janneke looks down the floor. She says nothing.
“Was that you?” the teacher asks Janneke again insistingly. Janneke’s cheeks turn a little redder now.
“I want you to apologise right now and then go to the rector. During the break I’ll ask him if you’ve been there.” Icy, the teacher looks at Joanna.
Joanna gets up slowly and walks to the door. I can’t hear whether she says sorry, but she leaves the classroom with her head bowed.
The others can hear a pin drop now. Then the teacher says loud and clear, looking at me so I can read her lips: “I am ashamed of you all!”
I nod at her reassuringly and indicate that I want to continue with the lesson. The rest of the time it remains quiet.
At the end of the lesson, the “question of all questions” is hesitantly asked:
“Do you take your hearing aids off during sex or not?”
Ha, adolescents! In this age category, 11 to 12 year olds, there is usually one among them who is bold enough to ask this question. The teacher is more shocked than I am: this question doesn’t bother me at all and I start grinning.
“What would you do if it starts squeaking in your ear?” I return the question to them. I see the pupils arguing excitedly with each other for a moment and then the questioner takes the floor again.
“I would take them off!”
Right. No further answer is needed and I wink cheerfully at the questioner, a handsome boy with dark wavy hair, jeans and a dark blue jumper.
Relieved, I gather my things. The teacher thanks me, apologises again for the “paper incident” and tells me that she is going to evaluate the lesson with her students and speak to Joanna again about her behaviour.
“I have no idea what is going on with her, yesterday she had a fight with her best friend in class. I suspect that there is more to it, because normally she is a nice, quiet and kind student. This kind of action is not in her nature at all,” she sighs. “It certainly wasn’t you or your story, I know my flock and they were really interested.”
Now I don’t know her pupils, but I had the impression that, apart from the “paper incident”, they listened to me actively and the many questions did indicate interest.
I accept her apology and wish her well with Janneke.
When he has also finished packing up, Kees draws my attention by waving at me.
“Hey, how do you think of it?” he asks.
“Better than I had dared hope for, without a battery! What did you think of it?”
Kees gives me two thumbs up.
Sie haben keine Gruppen, die auf Ihre Suche passen