I just read a comment from a lovely lady I met in Canberra for the Deafness Summit last year – she lives in Melbourne and got a cochlear implant I think either early this year or late last year.

Anyway, here is part of her comment, and I found it really struck me as being one of the unintended benefits of a cochlear implant when it works really well:

….I notice that I am much more likely to speak to strangers- in the past I avoided having chance conversations with people I didnt know. I really enjoy this – it has been an unexpected benefit.

This is something that I have come to notice with my cochlear implant.

Where I used to avoid looking at people, even in the lift at work, or on the street, or on the bus … now … I actually see people in a different light, and am much more open, and feeling like I am looking around for a random conversation! It is GREAT. People with normal hearing might not understand that feeling of imprisonment where you can’t really talk to the people around you.

On the bus the other night, everyone was sitting quietly as they made their way home, and behind me, a woman’s mobile phone rang. She started talking on the phone, not loudly, but unbelievably, I could actually hear what she was  saying.

I sat there, this huge grin spreading over my face, as I listened to the voice behind me – it was the first conversation I had ever ‘overheard’, and it was wonderful. Everyone on the bus sat there looking glum as they were ‘forced’ to listen to her ‘boring’ conversation…

But what they don’t realise is that, no matter how boring, these snippets give you a tiny window into someone else’s life! Hell, I know she was discussing the fact that her friend Brian couldn’t make Pub Trivia on Thursday night because he was working too hard in a new job…. but geez …. when you can hear stuff like that, it’s like people around you become more like …. people  … and not strangers.

So, I kind of half swivelled my head towards her and commented: “I reckon you should tell Brian life is too short, he should go to Trivia, they won’t fire him for leaving on time.”

There was dead silence.

People around me on the  turned their heads, surprised that I had spoken.

I heard a giggle.

Then some people smiled.

I turned back grinning hugely.

Then behind me she mumbled into the phone: “Maybe … I’ll tell Brian he should come….”

I felt like saying to everyone: “You people can HEAR!!!! You should all be talking and having conversations with the strangers next to you everywhere!!! Don’t take it for granted! Talk people!!! Talk!!!”

Maybe everyone needs a good bout of deafness to get their humanity working again.