Tag Archives: Background Noise

Saturday 20th June – Mixed Salad Malfunctions

I’m back from college, tired and a bit mentally bedraggled. It was an intense year! Soon I can post a backlog of blog entries here. In the meantime here’s an entry from last Saturday. Since my previous post I have got myself a Saturday job in a restaurant. It’s a policy of my workplace that I cannot name it online. So I will refer to it with many different names, starting with The Home of the Giant Scone. 

Restaurants are full of background noise. As well as scores of chatting customers and clinking cutlery, a playlist of popular music is played on a loop all day long. Once I have heard “We are Young” by Fun or “Here Come The Girls” for the seventh time that day I know  it’s nearly hometime.

Restaurants are not ideal places to hear clearly if you have Auditory Processing Disorder like I used to. Thanks to Johansen IAS therapy, Auditory Processing is now only a weak area for me, and I can hear almost every single word that customers and colleagues say to me. My job as a Table-clearer is mostly a physical task of cleaning tables and carrying trays back to behind the scenes to be cleared of food and washed. My job also involves chatting to customers and making sure that they are happy with their eating experience. Hearing clearly and being able to tune out table sounds and Top 40 canned music is very helpful to my job. Something that I lacked before Johansen IAS therapy, and something which after today I’m sure I will have to use all the time are PEOPLE SKILLS. Dealing with the public is part of my job, so good communication is essential. I have a feeling that my new job will teach me a lot about people.

I cycled to the Home of the Giant Scone, changed into my uniform, secured my Beard Net onto my head, put my little hat on and got to work.

Today was business as usual, apart from a few stroppy customers.

The first was a woman who called me over to look at her plate. “Would you say that this is a mixed salad?” she asked me. I wanted to say “Is this a trick question?” There was a varied mix of chopped vegetables and leaves on her plate beside a baguette, so I instead I said “Yes”. She insisted that there was too much lettuce and not enough tomatoes and cucumber. “Not like the plates on display” she insisted, trying to educate me as to what the qualities of good salad should be.

I guessed that she was one of these people who considered that the grass was always greener on the other side, mainly because the other side belonged to someone else. I supposed that in proportion to the fresh lettuce leaves, other vegetables were a minority group. As far as I was concerned that’s what a healthy Salad should look like.

She looked at me, pointing to her salad, again explaining that it wasn’t the mixed salad it claimed to be. Obviously it was only a pretender to the title of Mixed Salad. Perhaps not even a Salad at all. Mixed Salad was a pedigree beyond the qualities of the leafy mongrel creature skulking on her industrial chinaware.

Even although you sometimes can’t reason with these people, it is unfortunately in my job description to put on a smile and at least try.

“I’m sorry that your salad is not mixed enough. How can I make this right for you?”

Still glaring at the Leafy Green Impostor on her plate, the woman asked me to go and get her more tomatoes and cucumber. I took the plated baguette back to the food prep area and explained the situation.

“There’s a woman upset about the diversity of her salad and complaining bitterly about it. Can I have some more tomatoes and cucumber please?”

He spooned on more chopped vegetables and I headed back to appease her. Being as polite as I could without taking the piss, I kept smiling and asked her if everything was better now. Instead of dealing with her Salad malfunction I could have been clearing more tables which were filling up quickly.

She eyed her plate suspiciously. “It is somewhat better”.

There’s just no pleasing some people. I dismissed myself from her table to go deal with some real problems.

Behind the scenes again I bumped into the plated baguette preparer. He asked if the customer was happy now.

“She said her salad is somewhat better”.

He gave a whatever kind of shrug, clearly a veteran of kitchen complaints. “It’s not a salad anyway. It’s a garnish”.

stock-vector-cartoon-salad-80738581

Advertisements

Monday 8th January 2014 – My First Lecture with a Personal Listening Device

Meh. That is how I felt today.

After a very busy few weeks, I was feeling mentally bedraggled and less than enthusiastic about my first Plant Physiology class today. It was going to be a long afternoon- a double assault of two-hour long lectures, detailed to the molecular level.

It was the ideal day for my first experience of a lecture aided by a Personal Listening Device.Thanks to my college’s brilliant Student Support system, the SAAS Student Disability Awards, and Ron from iHear Ltd, I have a Personal Listening Device on loan for a trial.

A great thing about my college is that they always have powerpoint presentations to go with the lectures. However, there is only so much I can absorb from the screen. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) has its name because the Disorder is all to do with Processing, not hearing ability. I have no hearing loss, but had been dreading this new topic. I worried that I would sit in the lecture theatre and hear everything, but not process, understand or remember it. Thanks to Johansen IAS therapy, my Auditory Processing abilities are 100 times better than they used to be, but I still struggle in some areas (I had pretty serious problems with Auditory Processing to start with!) . The testament to the improvements in my life because of Johansen IAS therapy is that I have managed to go to college in the first place.

Auditory Processing Disorder can be roughly summed up with the phrase,

“In one ear, Out the other”.

Someone with Auditory Processing Disorder can be listening with every ounce of concentration, but lose track of almost all meaning of a conversation because of background noise, or simply a bad Processing Day because of tiredness or stress. Camilla the Johansen IAS therapist once likened APD to listening to a conversation in a foreign language you can get by in, but are not fluent with. Except that for people with APD, what can seem like a vague, jumbled string of words is actually their own first language. Even if you manage to hear everything clearly and understand it, Auditory Processing Disorder can seem to wipe your memory clean, and by the next day the information is new again, still to be learned.

Personal Listening Devices like the one I had for a trial period (The Comfort Audio Digisystem iHear) are designed to cut out background noise by transmitting the speaker’s voice directly to the device-wearer via earphones or hearing aids.  

And it works!

After switching on the small black transmitter to my lecturer, and explaining what it was for, (he was very helpful and supportive) I turned on my receiver and put in my earphones. The difference from my other lectures before I got the Listening Device was stark. My lecturer’s voice was in my ears, clear and sharp. The background noise of rustling and chatting in the lecture theatre was very quiet, as if the sounds were coming from underwater, and no longer distracting.

The lectures were intense. I felt like we covered more plant biology in those four hours than I had learned over  year for Higher Biology. Thanks to the Personal Listening Device, I  was able to mentally keep up with the lecture. Cutting out the background noise took most of the effort out of listening and all my brain’s energy could be devoted to Processing.

I’m not saying that having a Personal Listening Device transforms me into an academic whiz. It doesn’t. I know that I will struggle with this Module. However, I expected to walk into that class, pay attention and learn nothing. Being able to take in spoken information from the lecture feels encouraging. Thanks to the Digisystem iHear, I have a chance to pass a difficult module which would otherwise be hopeless and impossible.

For more great personal listening equipment, please check out iHear’s website using the link below.

iHear Website