I was set to post holiday photos today. Parties, elf hats, skating rinks… you name it, I’ve photographed it in the last few weeks.
But then last night, curled up in bed after a long workday with, being the librarian that I am, the NYT Book Review… I saw the above quote.
And it frustrated me.
WHY does this smart, educated man (and his family) cloak a childhood speech impairment as a joke? Was it because of the disconnect between his speech and his chosen activities? Was it because speech impairments are automatically associated with other difficulties?
Unlike Steve Johnson, I did not “grow out of” my speech impairment, and I live my life as an accomplished, professional member of society with that speech impairment.
I know the consequences. Just this week, a patron at work refused to let me help him. Because of my speech. I am underestimated in casual encounters. An amazing amount of people think speech and intellect are related.
And as long as intellectual elite like Steve Johnson and the New York Times reinforce these ideas? It will not change.
I walk up to the Starbucks ordering counter, give the barista my order for a Venti Mocha Frappuccino Light with my free Starbucks drink (Yay! Because their Frappuccinos are rather overpriced), she asks for my name, I give it to her, she repeats back to me. All good.
Go to the other end of the counter, and wait for my drink. After way too long of a wait a different barista comes up with my drink…
Instantly I am angry… at myself for not speaking clearly enough, at the barista for not understanding… all the fun irrational thoughts that come out of life with a speech impairment.
But however annoyed I am I also really need my coffee after my nearly 3-mile walk. I grab the Frappuccino and step outside. Then I read the name on the cup…
So all that angst was really not necessary. Barista 2 just couldn’t read Barista 1’s handwriting. I was clear enough.
I am a perfectionist and hard on myself, especially when I know I can do “better”… but I’m learning to let go of what I cannot change.
And sometimes that means grabbing the drink that is on the counter if it’s the right one, no matter what name is called. You may be pleasantly surprised.