Being deaf in a hearing world can lead to painful feelings of isolation.
Waitress Kelsey, who goes by u/foofighter16 on Reddit, recently shared an experience on the social media sharing site that quickly zoomed to the top of the “front page of the internet.” In her brief post, Kelsey explained that she waits tables at a bar/restaurant during the evenings, and one night she noticed a deaf man sitting alone in her section.
When Kelsey isn’t working at the bar she makes a good hourly wage doing sign language interpretation, so she instantly sensed an opportunity to use her skill to make this patron feel a little less alone in the world. She approached his table and began chatting with him in sign language.
When the table next to his noticed their silent conversation they asked Kelsey how long she’d been signing. They had a brief conversation about her goal of becoming certified to interpret sign language in a medical or mental health setting. She didn’t think a thing of the whole exchange until the patrons had left the restaurant and she was tidying up the tables. There, on the table of the customers who’d seen her ASL conversation with the deaf man, was a handwritten note on the receipt.
“Thank you for what you do, it absolutely matters!” The note said. “Good luck with finishing your degree!”
Not only that, but they’d left her a hefty $100 tip on the $36.94 tab.
Kelsey was incredibly moved by the kind note, especially because she wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. To her, she was merely conversing with someone in a language that only they understood. Yet to the deaf man and the people seated next to him she’d bridged a gap and engaged someone who probably feels lonely a lot of the time.
Kelsey shared the note on Reddit in order to spread more love and light in the world, writing:
“I work at bar in the evenings, and I’m also fluent in sign language. Tonight a deaf man sat alone in my section, so I chatted with him in sign. The table next to him noticed and asked me how long I’ve been signing, etc. then I found this on their table. I will be paying this forward.”
“I would’ve chatted with the deaf gentleman whether other people were watching or not,” she later added to the discussion.
Her photograph and story had an instant effect on Redditors, with many people chiming in to talk about their own experiences being deaf or having a deaf loved one and even wanting to learn.
With more people learning ASL we hope that eventually we’ll live in a world where we can communicate openly with everyone, regardless of their physical abilities. Kelsey’s experience is another wonderful example of how extending kindness and compassion to others always has a way of coming right back to us.
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