People Connecting. This “Cynthia story” is all about talking with people and connecting with them. Just think how communication works.
Building Bridges. “Communication” is a word that is derived from Latin. The “com” portion has the sense of “with” or “together with.” The “muni” portion relates to military action like “fortifying.” When you put those concepts together, you get our understanding of the word, to “connect together” or “build up with others.”
Misunderstanding. Communication problems result when we cannot connect, like after suffering a stroke where we know what we want to say, but we are unable to verbalize our thinking. You and I have similar problems with our kids when we don’t understand what they are saying or when we hear a foreign language.
Noise All Around Us. We have all experienced “hearing problems” in a noisy fast-food establishment where we try to explain what we want, even shouting, only to find that the restaurant worker cannot “hear” us because of the din.
Technology Not Enough. There are other communication problems. A generation ago we recognized that the “deaf” had trouble understanding in our hearing world. That’s when all kinds of communication efforts resulted, e.g., deaf interpreters for speakers, telephone message interpreters, electronic devices for the hearing impaired to connect with us hearing folks, etc.
Recognizing Communication Problems. Despite cochlear implants and other innovative technology for helping the hearing impaired, people continue to sign, but it is usually with others who are fluent in sign language. The hearing impaired population is relatively small, proportion-wise, and the numbers who sign is a small portion of that small group. Imagine the difficulties of ordering something at a fast-food restaurant if you only sign.
Sign Language Has Place. But we do have some hearing folks who are fluent in the art of signing. Here’s a recent story that reveals the importance of sign language to mainstream America. It relates to a Fayetetteville, NC Chick-fil-A. This company has the reputation of being consumer-oriented and caring for its employees, and it has a good chicken sandwich among a variety of selections.
Another Day At Work. Employee Taylor is order-taking. Terri Gioia comes up with her daughter Cynthia who signs. Cynthia has never been able to order her own meal at any restaurant before. Taylor sizes up the situation when Terri and Cynthia are signing in the order line. I don’t know exactly what happened when they got to the point of ordering.
Happy Little Girl. Maybe Cynthia’s jaw dropped and she even gulped or maybe just smiled. Here’s what Momma Terri reports:
Mom’s Observation. “My daughter Cynthia Walker has never experienced a chance to order for herself without people just staring at her. Taylor did not miss a beat on greeting us with a warm smile, and asking my daughter first what she would like. My daughter was so surprised and happy. She even asked me how that lady knew how to sign to her.”
Special Employee. It turns out that Chick- fil-A had just hired Taylor. She was two weeks into her job and had already become pretty good at order taking. So, Taylor takes Cynthia’s “first-ever” order, and the mom notes that the restaurant even checked on the little customer’s happiness after the meal was delivered.
Success. Taylor’s little extra effort at communication with signing resulted in kudos for a manager as well. Terri noted, “Great job to the manager for having an awesome team!” We can just double that and note that Taylor has “communication” nailed down.