Trying to fit in at a new job can be tricky. Alliances have already been made, everyone already has a role, and it’s tough to walk in and find your own place. When she started her new job, she quickly discovered that the employees didn’t like “the deaf guy,” but she wasn’t going to join in with them without digging a little deeper…
Far and away the most hated person in my carpentry shop is the deaf guy. I’ve only been working there a year and everyone thinks he is the most vindictive, hateful, selfish, paranoid human to walk the earth. He’s easily the hardest worker there. I can tell you with confidence that he has generated the most money for the company of anyone there. He absolutely OWNS his portion of the shop. He has it down like clockwork and doesn’t waste a second.
All that being said, he throws an absolute rabid fit whenever anything out of routine happens and he won’t look anyone in the eye and he calls everyone lazy.
After a month of working there I started to learn ASL (American Sign Language). I learned a few things at home and would say anything that I could to him.
“Happy Monday” “how are you” etc. I learned how to ask about words, how to spell things, how to sign numbers. Pretty soon he’s teaching me a word a day, then it speeds up to 3-5 words a day. Fast-forward a year and we talk constantly.
What I learned is that he gets mad because he’s been passed up for promotions because he’s deaf. People don’t tell him when overtime is available which he wants. He sees people coming in late and still taking breaks and he NEVER breaks those rules. He gets mad that no one ever tells him about new machines being bought or new jobs coming in or the gossip. I unknowingly became his liaison. He stopped fighting with people. He’s able to get all of the jokes we tell at lunch because I can translate. He can joke back through me. Other people are learning sign language as time goes on too.
What I don’t get is why no ever gave him the benefit of the doubt. It would suck to be deaf and never know what was going on. Some people have worked with him for 15+ years and no one ever learned any ASL (outside of the curses). He thanked me recently for being a good friend. He said things are a lot better now.
Hopefully, we would do the same…but the truth is that we are all too often on the side that is too quick to judge. She shared her story in order to inspire others not to jump to conclusions. In her case, it paid to give him the benefit of the doubt instead of joining in with the new coworkers’ bias.
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