Coffee with a Sign of Douche

Thursday, April 17, 2008

When I worked at the coffee shop back in college, I became quite popular with the local deaf community. The main reason being I could speak better than average sign language. I picked up A.S.L. (American Sign Language) with ease because I'm simply a visual learner, and anyone who knows me can tell you I already talk with my hands so this was the next logical step. My Spanish however is awful. Anywhose, I'm not so great now and a bit out of practice but I still fill in at work as a rough translator now and again.

Eventually, I became somewhat known in Davis. After word got out, I started being requested on the floor and in the cafe often since I could communicate with ease, and there wasn't any frustration of having to write things down or lip read. Still, my one weakness in Sign was fingerspelling. Fingerspelling is when you spell out a word using signs for each letter. There are a few tricks like, R-E-F for refrigerator and so on, but some words, say like, prestidigitation, are just hard. Second, some native speakers fingerspell hyper-fucking fast, so fast it's just a blur and my brain just immediately short circuits for a few minutes and I forget how to speak in either English or Sign.

So one day at the coffee shop, an adorable couple came up and asked for the signing coffee person they heard worked there. I told them that I was that person, and asked how I could help them. They signed for a small regular coffee, and a large mocha with whipped cream. I punched in their orders and ask if they want anything else.

Now when signing, it's not uncommon for other people to look for a moment out of curiosity and try to see if they can see what we're saying, rarely it seems did people ever outright stare. One or two people in line looked for a second but then went back to their own conversations or back to browsing the menu. The couple in front then pointed to some small pre-packaged snack and asked me what the ingredients were. Or should I say, they fingerspelled the word "ingredients" in about 1/4 of a freaking second, causing my brain to break.

At this point I'm screwed, I asked them to sign it again only slower, after a few times I finally get the hint and explain to them that no the product is not vegan when suddenly...

"Excuse me, if you're done chatting, could you hurry up?" a gentleman in his forties asks. I'll give it to him, we've taken a short while so I'm cool and apologize.

"Just a moment Sir, I'm just answering a few questions, I'll be happy to help you in a just a minute. Just a small loss of translation for a second!" signing as I speak. I go back to the couple and punch in their order and apologize profusely, we all have a giggle and they tell me not to worry.

"HEY! Are you talking about me?"

"I'm sorry?" We all three look at him.

"Didn't your parents teach you it's rude! I just want to order my coffee!"

"We aren't talking about you, Sir."

My female deaf customer chimes in having read his lips, "We were just laughing about our conversation."

"Yeah, right. Don't lie to me! I just want to order my coffee. I didn't come here for this."

"Sir..." I was literally lost about this conversation, I stumbled for words. This wasn't a regular case of The Stupids, this is just... well, no, it is, but just a very unusual case of it. "We weren't talking about you," my face looking slightly confused.

"I'm going to find your manager!"

And so he stormed off. The three of us remaining looked puzzled. The people in line look puzzled. I signed that he was a total douche.

If he's going to insist that I made fun of him, I might as well, right? That way he's not a liar. Just a paranoid douche. I laughed. The couple laughed. My manager laughed. I never saw him again.

Good times.


  1. I'm kind of afraid to ask what the sign for 'douche' is.

  2. Where do you find these people?

  3. Hello Garrett, I read your blog whenever I have a free moment and wanted to comment about the *douche* as you so eloquently put it. I realize and understand that people are busy, what with our blackberry, cell phone, i-pod,
    mp3, mochaccino lifestyle. What I don't understand is when did people become so rude and insensitive. It's not just that guy, but it's people who don't hold the door for you when they see that you are walking in behind them, it's the people that talk on their cell phones during a movie which you paid $9+ to see. I mean let's face it, most of us don't want for much in this it too much to ask that we be left to enjoy a movie for a couple of hours in a darkened theater with our $7 popcorn? It's one thing to be in a hurry but it's another thing to be flat out rude and impatient. I want to apologize to that couple for the guy. When did we (society) become so busy that we have to treat others/ or their time like they are insignificant. In all that time it took for him to behave like a baboon's could have finished up your transaction with the couple so that he could get his precious cup of coffee.'s people with attitudes like his that make it okay for me to condone someone hawking a loogie in his cup.

  4. Some people think the world revolves around them. He probably had very low self esteem, was probably mad at himself because he only speaks english and decided to take it out on you guys. What an ass...hopefuly he feels better about himself by now.

  5. The joys of being multilingual do include the fact that you can indeed talk about other people right in front of them. You just have to hope that they don't happen to speak Swahili as well.

    That guy was a monumental asshat.

    For future reference, perhaps you should gesticulate wildly, making sure to point at the offending person several times before laughing wholeheartedly.

    I'd pay to see that.


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