Friday night after preschool graduation every year is my favorite.It is an emotional day saying goodbyes to my precious preschoolers who are ready for Kindergarten. Then when I come home, it is a relief feeling knowing summer break begins and I am available to be with my daughter. She usually gets out of school a few weeks before I get out. We were off to have dinner and a movie to see Aladdin. Not knowing this was not going to be my favorite Friday night after all.
The movie, Aladdin started and all of sudden, a lady was yelling at me that startled three of us. She was literally yelling at me about the caption box. I yelled back “It’s closed caption!”. We continued to watch the movie. My heart was torn. I felt not comfortable. I felt anxious knowing she was still behind me. Do I move to another seat? Do I stay? I prayed for God to give me the strength to handle it in a graceful style manner and what to do. My daughter is here and I’m her role model. Do I speak up or not?During the movie, Jasmine sang the song “Speechless”. When I read the words from the caption box, this hits home. Here is a part of the song.
Here comes a wave meant to wash me away / A tide that is taking me under / Swallowing sand, left with nothing to say / My voice drowned out in the thunder / But I won’t cry and I won’t start to crumble / Whenever they try to shut me or cut me down
I won’t be silenced / You can’t keep me quiet / Won’t tremble when you try it / All I know is I won’t go speechless / 'Cause I’ll breathe / When they try to suffocate me / Don’t you underestimate me / 'Cause I know that I won’t go speechless
That’s what I’m going to do.. “I won't go speechless”. I will stand up for myself.
When the movie was over, I stood up and looked at her. She glared at me and chuckled a bit awkwardly. I stared at her. I shouted “thank you”. She scoffed. I walked away. My mother and daughter were talking to her and her friend. (During this scene, my mother was telling her that I am deaf since birth and needed the closed caption)I walked back and cut in conversation, I explained I am deaf, it was a closed caption box to help me understand the movie, and she insulted me that she disrespected me, my mother and daughter. She somewhat apologized but said somewhere in lines one of us should have moved then again I should have moved. I was shocked. Rosa Parks did not give up her seat. I am not going give up my seat. She said it was distracting. She went on and on. She was yelling. She still didn’t get it. My daughter placed her hand on my back for support while she stood there quietly witnessing it all. I was shaking and walked away.
During this scene, I looked at my mother and my daughter being part of this situation. I could not imagine what my mother is going through. Sure, I am a mother. But not a mother to a deaf daughter. She surely did not expect this event when I am in my thirties at a movie theater. Then I could not imagine what my daughter is going through. Because I do not have a deaf mother. I know the protective feeling of my parents while I was growing up. She is very protective. This was not a sight I want her to witness.
We returned the caption box to the front desk, a gentleman asked me how was it. I told him I am insulted because someone complained about the caption box. He held the caption box, his mouth dropped and said: “Wait, someone complained about you using this?!” I nodded. He wanted to call his manager to discuss it with me. I disagreed, I assured him it was okay, and he saw I was shaking. “Well, can we at least give you a free movie ticket? Please?”. I said “No, I’m better than that. I do not want the ticket, I’m deaf and have to deal with it like that.” I mean I have been discriminated quite a few times in the last ten years, I can’t seek free stuff out of it. That’s not my solution. My solution is to advocate for myself and educate others.
When we got home, my daughter and I sobbed in each other’s arms. She drew two pictures which were a mad face and sad face to put them on pillows for me to punch when I’m mad and to hold when I’m sad. I punched screaming and we laughed. I cried, “I need the sad pillow now!” She handed me a sad pillow. I cried. She hugged me, I explained to her that I was sorry for her to go through that. She assured me it was okay and she was sorry for me to go through that. We continued other therapy activities she had for me. I was impressed and in awe of her love for me.
I emailed the movie theater corporation to explain what I went through, reminding them I still do not want free tickets but want the location to be recognized for good customer services and suggested them to make a video on closed caption box and respect just like they show no cell phones to respect others during the movie. To educate others to be respectful to deaf and hard of hearing communities using the device. They responded with a well-written email (Here is a part of the email):
“We were disappointed to learn of the trouble you encountered during you're recent visit but are glad to know you were able to share your experience with the team. I have shared your suggestion to include a video about respect and awareness with the appropriate departments for consideration on your behalf.In addition, we have shared your email with the General Manager at the theater so he can share your kind words with his team.”
I hugged my mama the next morning. "I am sorry you had to go through that" said I. She said "No, I am sorry you had to go through that. I am proud of you. You handled it with grace. You showed your daughter how you stood up for yourself in a graceful manner." And my father was very proud of me for using my backbone. I wont go speechless and to my community, do not go speechless. Advocate for yourself and your child while educating others because not everyone is aware.
Hearing Impaired single mother and teacher aide at a hearing impaired oral preschool program. An author of "Turn The Lights On, I Cant Hear You".