Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sign Language in Use

In High School and College, I took Spanish as my foreign language and yes I still remember some of it. As I was growing up I also picked up a little bit American Sign Language (ASL). Some of it I taught myself, like the alphabet, and most of the song "Jesus Loves Me". Other signs I picked up from a high school friend who knew a lot of it including some of the pleasantries, like "thank you" and "please". Well, getting to the point....

I work retail at a fabric store, and occasionally I have to use my limited knowledge of Spanish and/or ASL. Today while I was at work, I had a deaf couple walk up to the cutting counter at my job.. I must say the fact that we both were in very good moods and I didn't have a line to cut fabric made it quite a good time. She only needed a couple of inches of a fuzzy purple trim cut to decorate her husbands pen. After a couple of misinterpretations, for example, me signing "h-a-l-f....y-a-r-d" and her frantically signing "no no no h-a-l-f....i-n-c-h" She ended up getting 3 inches because I can't sell by the half inch and she wanted a little bit extra. At this point I took out pen and paper because she was wondering if we had aqua blue instead of purple. I doubt it is really necessary to write out my entire conversation with her, I think you are getting the point.

For being only a .17 cent sale, it will probably be one of my most memorable sales. She left the store happy, laughing, and with exactly what she needed. I was happy that I made myself understood and I was able to use my limited ASL. Something tells me that the next time that I am sitting in a retail interview and they ask the question "Tell me about a time that you provided exceptional customer service." (I have always hated this question, they expect me to rack my brain on the SPOT?!?) I will remember this sale. Sure it was only a .17 cent sale, but something tells me that this customer will be back because she knows that we will make the attempt to understand her.

Actually having to use Spanish and ASL in the real world just makes me realize just how little I know. It also gives me more incentive to learn more. Right now I am just happy that I know the pleasantries and some basics.
But for now.............

Vivir y

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