Friday, December 10, 2010

Spreading Joy and Having Fun!

The silly season is upon us!
Traffic in the stores is abysmal; crowds are pushy and rude; marketing to play on our greed for the next best thing is everywhere!

I enjoy a bit of the hustle and bustle I suspect, as long as the"reason for the season" is remembered, my joy can been seen in my smile. I love the look on the little one's this time of year. a magical time in their lives and fondly remembered by yours truly as a time when Santa Claus came to town on Christmas eve, and hopefully spoiled us with all the toys we asked for.

So Mary and I went out last Saturday two weeks before the big day. Now there were two ways of attacking this venture out into the wilds of retail with 14 days before Christmas: We could be like most of the denizens out there and go wild and grumpy, stealing parking spaces, cutting off drivers in a mad rush to get in and out of stores, knock people over in line ups at the mall...or......the opposite.

We donned Santa hats and red sweat shirts and off we went with good cheer as our intent. What a difference it made in the lives of the people we crossed.

Frowns in long line ups turned to smiles as David and his beautiful wife in long red hats with floppy white pom poms bounced in and out of places.

"You made my day" said one lady.
"How wonderful of you two to do this today" said another

Cashiers frowns turned to big smiles as we paid for our take out coffee. "You guys look great" was heard often.

Now the processor on my cochlear implant does not like hats! The mic gets buried in order to keep the hat on.
So my comprehension, which is bad at best in noise and with strangers, fell to about 10%.

Everything I heard, Mary had to tell me after what was said in the car when I removed Santa's head gear.

Mattered not! Total strangers came up to me/us and starting talking with big grins on their faces pointing at our hats.
I knew what they were saying without hearing!
Happiness and Joy have no communication issues.

The Kids grinned and pointed us out to their hurried and stressed out parents, which in turn brought adult smiles. That in itself was a great gift.
A smile on any child is worth all the effort in the world.

Little things mean a lot?
Little things mean everything.

Remember that Joy spread is 100 times more wonderful than Joy kept small.

I hope you can bring a smile to someone today.



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Flying with an Implant

Flying is a giant pain for me. I suspect becoming a curmudgeon has much to do with it, but being deaf plays a huge fun stopping role in flying for me.

From the questions in the security line up by the "rent-a-cops" in their nice crisp Transport Canada uniforms to the mumbling overhead speakers that may or may not be announcing a gate change for my flight; I am not liking the ride as a cochlear implanted passenger!

I don't do a whole lot of it these days, and that is fine by me. The Toronto Airport is nice for about the first 3 visits and then you realize that traveling is A) not fun, and B) expensive and C) scary for the hearing impaired.

Parking is a silly ritual where you drive for up and down and back and forth in search of a spot until you realize that you have to drive to the end of the lot then go up the ramp until the air is thin and the roof disappears. Once you come to grips that you will have snow on your car when you return from your trip, you head out on the incredible journey to find the elevator.

About an hour or so into the discovery mission and realizing that you have backtracked and passed your own car about a dozen times, I consider canceling my flight for the third or forth time that day, as I have left the cozy confines of my our lovely home and my beautiful wife only to sit in Toronto traffic that starts and midnight and lasts about 23 hours. The trick would be I assume is to, is to try and guess the hour of non chocked up blocked roads. I always guess wrong.

Once parked and terminal found, the security anxiety kicks in. Will I get away with a carry on of the tiniest tube of toothpaste known to man, or will Helga the SS security person toss it out as it it can be squeezed into an unsuspecting pilots eyes (do they not lock the doors to the flight deck?)

They speak in low voices with accents and look away when the ask "oeuo iueopu jo duieu?"
" Pardon?" I say "
I have a hearing impairment can you look at me when you speak?"
Suspicion looms as they now think I am indeed a terrorist with an explosive magnet on my head.

I slowly reach for my wallet and pull out my "Advanced Bionics " card that states "This person has an implanted medical device; Cochlear Implant model # ci-144-02h

I get past checkpoint Charlie and head to departure area.
Overhead speakers say something or other. I never had figured out how any CI person can hear them. Not even sure if any of us do. So I go to nice airline employee and explain my deal.
"Cant hear, need help with announcements"

Get on plane, happy I got the bulkhead seat with all the extra space because it is an emergency exit. I love that seat as I get to stretch a bit.

Airline attendant comes by to explain the rules of what to do if a big old nasty flame happens in flight etc. I know the drill, have heard it many times.
She notices the magnet on my head and asks me to remove my "Bluetooth headset"
I explain about the blessings of a cochlear implant and how science and technology have given the deaf a hearing life.

"If your deaf you cant sit here" Helga's sister tells me.

I get bumped to a middle seat somewhere south of Mexico. So far in the back that it takes me half an hour to exit upon landing.

So at 10,000 feet in the air, the in-flight video/ GPS in front of me reads we are between Sault St Marie and Sioux Look Out.
I ask our flight attendant, Sue, how many more ways are there to spell Sue/Sioux/Sault? "Sue me" she says. " I don't know" she says.
"Why do you have a bluetooth headset on during flight" she snarls.

So I explain the wonders of ...........

I not that the outside temp at 10,495 ft is - (minus) 63 degrees Fahrenheit. I think at that point F and Celsius meet and greet! I wonder if snot crystallizes at this temp. I don't want to know.

Flying is fun going to Cancun for a week in the sun.
Flying to a cold clime in Canada in November is not fun!

Landing is nice, as I feel safe and sound....until I risk the perils of the Rent-a-Car people and the 101 questions about how can the deaf drive.