“We,” announces Faithful Minion #1 with a certain amount of relish, “Have A Problem.”
I look up from the pile of paperwork that seems to have adopted my desk as it’s ancestral breeding ground to see a young lady at the Intake desk. Short, nervous — not unexpected considering she’s under arrest for something — maybe 80 pounds.
I look back to where someone has sent me a request for permission to look for mop handles, “Call the kitchen, get her a sandwich.” Someone needs my okay to go look for bloody mop handles? Seriously?
“Ah, boss, she’s deaf.”
“Okay. Give her her cell phone, let her send a reasonable number of texts.”
An inmate has sent me a request for information on getting a divorce while in jail. “Didn’t I just sign off on a proxy for this one to get married?!”
“PD seized her cell phone. I really think we need a dinosaur.”
Huh? I look back out to the Intake Desk where the Wee Lass is poking a finger at some equipment with a puzzled air.
I hie myself from the desk and wander out to where our 18-to-22 year-old guest is looking from Faithful Minion #2 to the Brand-New, Just Purchased At No Small Expense 1973-era TDD machine has been plunked down in front of her.
“This,” I announce to my Faithful Minions (in tones that emphatically do not resemble in any way — despite slanderous assertions by folks higher in rank than I — a Tyrannosaurus delivering the lecture ‘Mammals: An Evolutionary Failure’), “Is what the deaf used to use for communication in the days before texting and e-mail.”
So saying, I dial the number in front of the Wee Lass and place the phone handset in the TDD cradle with a flourish.
“Ohhh,” sayeth the Faithful Minions.
There is a long pause. A really long pause. The Wee Lass pokes the TDD with a suspicious, and more than slightly uncertain, index finger. A Faithful Minion clears her throat.
“Sooo … she types into the … PBB … and it talks to whoever on the other end?”
“TDD. No. She types into the TDD here and the message comes up on the TDD on the other end.”
I realize what’s coming just before my Faithful Minion opines, “Since she doesn’t seem to know what the hell that PBB is, the chances of there being another one on the other end of this call …”
I raise my hand, sigh the sigh of a man beset by the inequities of dealing with young people — children, really — and ask, “How have you been communicating with her?”
“Oh, she reads lips.”
Good. I turn to the Wee Lass and — enunciating fully — I ask, “Is there another number you would like us to call for you?”
The Wee Lass stares at me with one eyebrow cocked up. There’s another long pause, broken by Faithful Minion #2 announcing: “She reads lips. I don’t think she reads moustaches.”
I feel my eye twitch as Faithful Minion #1 muses, “I think she can read moustaches. It’s just that the moustache was saying: ‘In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu lies dreaming.’ Or something.”
I pivot to look at my Faithful Minions. Innocent faces, the lot of the little buggers.