In which the respect due my lofty position is expressed

“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.



But, but, but ...

19 thoughts on “In which the respect due my lofty position is expressed”

  1. Well, at least Faithful Minion #1 enjoys literary classics instead of just wiiing.

  2. How about pencil and paper?

    Or did I mis-understand something in this story?

  3. Dear Anon at 5:41PM:

    Hush, or you will blow my deal.

    Dear Mr. Dawg:

    I can understand ASL as Once Upon A Time I was infatuated with a deaf co-worker. I'll need the going rate for an interpreter and all expenses paid from where we are snowed in to Bugscuffle. Wait, whatayamean I need to know more than just the dirty words? Sigh. Nevermind.

    WV potank There's some opportunity for snarky comment about the popo and being tanked, but I have too much home-brewed Margarita in me to pursue it. Hey, we're snowed in and there's nothin' else to do…

  4. Robert,

    Curiosity overwhelms me…
    Do the signs for the various dirty words look as dirty as the words they convey?


  5. One could respond with something like this:
    "[1] I. Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? quem ad finem sese effrenata iactabit audacia? Nihilne te nocturnum praesidium Palati, nihil urbis vigiliae, nihil timor populi, nihil concursus bonorum omnium, nihil hic munitissimus habendi senatus locus, nihil horum ora voltusque moverunt? Patere tua consilia non sentis, constrictam iam horum omnium scientia teneri coniurationem tuam non vides? Quid proxima, quid superiore nocte egeris, ubi fueris, quos convocaveris, quid consilii ceperis, quem nostrum ignorare arbitraris? [2] O tempora, o mores! Senatus haec intellegit. Consul videt; hic tamen vivit. Vivit? immo vero etiam in senatum venit, fit publici consilii particeps, notat et designat oculis ad caedem unum quemque nostrum. Nos autem fortes viri satis facere rei publicae videmur, si istius furorem ac tela vitemus. Ad mortem te, Catilina, duci iussu consulis iam pridem oportebat, in te conferri pestem, quam tu in nos [omnes iam diu] machinaris."

    I wonder what Latin sign language looks like? Perhaps the Romans just cut to the bone & left it at that.

    Ulises from CA

  6. Hilarious!!

    BGMiller-if done right the ASL signs are much dirtier than their spoken counterparts.

  7. I did a stint at a answering service/pager/TDD company in the late 90's. After the first night, you just stop listening to the words and type. At least I did…or my brain shorted out. Glad that most folks can text directly to each other these days, my soul has enough scarring.

  8. I have learned to put my beverage down before reading around here. I'm so very glad to have learned that lesson

  9. LD: 1) facial hair does make speech reading much harder.
    2) as someone else suggested – pen & paper

    "Do the signs for the various dirty words look as dirty as the words they convey?"

    Some do, some don't.
    Some are very close to perfectly clean useful words (for those who know ASL, I'm thinking of a$$hole vs. dentist & meet vs. copulate).

    BTW, the sign for copulate can be inflected to show exactly what configuration you're talking about.
    Very handy.

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