For the uninitiated, the call starts like this: after I do my standard greeting, I ask for the user’s username. Then the voice on the other end says “I have a relay call. Have you been on a relay call before?”

 

I’ll be honest: I think I already knew who I’d be working with for that call. I’ve supported her before–many times, different things, usually remoting in, conversing via instant messenger, because she’s deaf. Hence the relay. So every part of the conversation ends with the phrase: “go ahead.”

 

The username given confirmed it: it was her. One of the nicest people you could possibly meet, and except for the slightly disconcerting necessity of reading your lips when you were talking to her directly, completely disarming, and appreciative of those who helped her to do her job.

 

She’s was an admin for a long time, so she knows the importance of appreciating those who support you, but now she’s moving up in the world as some assistant in a quality department, if I remember correctly. But I digress.

 

“I need instructions to connect my iPad to the WiFi so I can listen to my I Heart Radio app.”

 

One word there stuck. One word: Listen. I actually said the phrase “Huh wha?”

 

The relay person chuckled. This was new.

 

Not meaning to toss our assistant aside, but knowing we really didn’t need her anymore, I reintroduced myself so my caller was sure who she was working with, and offered to just IM her and send her the documentation she needed. She agreed and we let the relay operator go.

 

“Listen?” I typed.

 

“I got cochlear implants,” she wrote back. She explained that it was part of her therapy to listen to music, sounds, words, audio books, things like that, just to help train her brain to process the sounds that she could now hear.

 

Now, I have no idea how long she’s been deaf–it’s never been a topic that I’ve brought up, but it’s been a pretty long time: her speech, while better than some, can still be difficult to understand if you don’t really pay attention, but then she pointed out she’d never heard her kids. And now she wishes they’d shut up and stop making all of the noise.

 

You know those moments when you laugh out loud at something you’re reading? That was one of the funniest things I’d seen on my computer screen all day.

 

The long and short of it is that I know how to help her–that is, how best to quickly and efficiently get her the help she needs. I e-mailed her a PDF of instructions on how to configure her iPad so it could connect to various work resources. She said it was perfect and she thanked me for my help again.

 

And then I realized just how profound that help was: she could hear, and, while I really didn’t do much of anything, I helped with her therapy, even if it meant she could listen to more disco music.

 

The constant rhythm, she’d said. Easy to listen to and comprehend.

 

The best call I’ve had in ages.

 

See you tomorrow.

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April 2014
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