A snapshot of the character Fry from Futurama. He is looking annoyed and squinting his eyes.

You are so RUDE!

A snapshot of the character Fry from Futurama. He is looking annoyed and squinting .

I wouldn’t consider myself a mean person, but I have been told on a number of occasions that I was/am rude, getting told off for ignoring someone or even for not blinking when I’m looking at their face (basically for staring). I can be rude to others, no doubt about that.

But what can you do when you have the skill to be rude by accident? There’s an awkwardness and a strange sense of guilt. I would always find myself asking the same questions:

How can I fix this? 

Should I tell them?

Would they understand I am hard of hearing?

When I was in my teens, I would turn rouge if I didn’t quite hear what the guy I fancied said. The uncontrollable blushing would come through with my brown skin and it didn’t matter how much Sleek foundation I bought, there was no hiding it!

Even in the classrooms, the fear wasn’t about whether I knew the answer, but more of the embarrassment that I didn’t quite know what they were asking me. 

I recently came back from a visit to Singapore. I couldn’t wear my hearing aid out there; sounds were magnified so much that I wouldn’t be able to hear anyone, so I didn’t wear it. But I still couldn’t hear, and I felt like people would think I was patronising them, mocking their accent on their land. 



“Can you say that again?” 

Should I say something or pretend I understand when they know I don’t?

The assumptions are there and you can’t shake them off because the response would always be, “why don’t you just wear your hearing aid then…? It’s rude!” 

It was the first time I didn’t feel alone, didn’t question myself and felt understood. Her advice was to just tell them from the beginning. So here I am, trying to be proud, trying to be brave. 

“Hey everyone, I’m not rude, I’m just deaf.”