Sunday, November 16, 2008

On Nearly Deaf, Muttering Octogenarians

Today was augmented by a rare sighting of one of my favorite elderly customers. This may sound a little cruel, but she's not a favorite because she's sweet or kind or seems sincerely concerned with me and my state of affairs. She's one of my favorites because she's absolutely hilarious, and is completely ignorant of the fact. She has no idea at all that every time I encounter her, it takes all of my willpower to hold back a deluge of giggling.

Most of her humor value is related to the fact that she's extremely hard of hearing, but doesn't seem to realize it. Firstly, this results in her speaking very loudly all of the time. Sometimes startlingly loud. Secondly, often when you speak to her, she'll grunt "Huh?," as though she didn't hear you (well, not "as though;" she really didn't hear you, she's nearly deaf). When you lean in to repeat the question a little louder, she assumes that you're leaning closer because you can't hear her, and subsequently shouts even louder. This happens in every exchange with her, and for some reason, understanding just what it is that is occurring ignites a giggle fuse somewhere deep within me, and I struggle to stifle those gurgling, roiling giggles for the remainder of my time with her.

The last straw, however (and what has actually caused audible giggles to escape on one occasion), is the fact that she has a tendency to mutter under her breath like some folks are wont to do. These mutterings are usually the result of some trivial difficulty, such as a check that won't tear easily out of her register, or the fact that her automaton husband is not unloading the shopping cart according to some bizarre, unarticulated set of standards she has established. Anyway, because she speaks so loudly all the time, what she believes are whispered exclamations actually result in her shouting "Jesus!" and "Shiiiiiit" loud enough for most of the store to hear. This also has a tendency to be startling to some, who generally don't expect to be met with alarmingly loud profanity when standing behind a five foot tall elderly woman in the grocery line.

I don't doubt this woman is unknowingly offensive to many. She always seems to make my day, though.

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