I walked into a coffee shop today that had an unusual air to it, something that didn’t seem quite right but one couldn’t put their finger on it. I took me until order my drink to realize what it was the first time around. First, there was noticeably the absence of music in the coffeehouse. It didn’t seem that unusual, the coffee shop simply opted to be quieter. That’s when I noticed it wasn’t just that there wasn’t just no music. There was next to no sound.

The cashier ordering my drink, too, did not say a word. She simply nodded and brought up my charge. The only sound was the machine running, with another cook and another barista in the back waiting.

Then I noticed it. The shop was fantastically unusual. I saw the entire staff, from cleaners to managers, waving their hands about at first. Then I noticed the motions were more pronounced, executed like a dancer, or with precision and practice. Finally, I could see with clarity that which was unusual.

The entire staff was deaf.

Perhaps I jump, but everyone was silent as could be, making motions to one another in their form of communication. I saw a couple entering behind me, who seemed to know the gist of the shop, pick up a pad and write down their order.

I was proud.

The whole of the building was defined by their ability, not their inability. Rather than belly up to one’s circumstance, these people had rejected the idea of charity and strived to work to their own ends. I was a stranger to all of them, but to all of them, I respect.

There are individuals in this world with far more ample ability than they may have had, but choose only to recognize that which holds them back. These people, who had a right to being supported by their society in my view, chose to support themselves. They did not even market themselves as deaf. They chose not to recognize it. They chose only their ability to create, their ability to work, and their ability to strive forward.

May there be more of that character in the world.


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