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Dyslexia Strikes at the Most Inopportune Moment

November 3, 2004

dyslexia [dys-lex-ia] noun:

a variable often familial learning disability involving difficulties in acquiring and processing language that is typically manifested by a lack of proficiency in reading, spelling, and writing

As I read this definition I thought, “This doesn’t sound like me.” The encyclopedia Britannica’s definition sounded more like me:

Chronic neurological disorder causing inability or great difficulty in learning to read or spell, despite normal intelligence. It inhibits recognition and processing of graphic symbols, particularly those pertaining to language. Symptoms, including very poor reading skills, reversed word and letter sequences, and illegible handwriting, usually become evident in the early school years.

This sounds more like me, but only the “reversed word and letter sequences” part. I’m pretty sure I read well and have good handwriting. Stick with me, I’m getting to the story…

For those of you that know me, this something you might not know. I’m mildly dyslexic. A lot of people are. I keep telling myself, “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You are human and therefore your mild dyslexia is a result of the fall of humanity. It isn’t your fault. Take it up with Adam and Eve.” This dyslexia visits me in a couple of different forms. As far as letters go, every so often I read words wrong. I get the letters jumbled. Like recipe and receipt. I always have to think hard about that one. There are a few other words that also give me trouble. It isn’t many words, but enough to make it irritating. However, letters aren’t the main problem. The main problem is numbers. I regularly transpose numbers. For example, when I used to work for the “the man” at Starbucks (now I work for the “little man” at Bongo) I would sometimes work the drive-thru window. I would have to repeat to the person ordering the total price of their order. So, say someone ordered 2 Venti White Chocolate Mochas. I would say to them “that will be $8.48 at the window.” But instead of actually saying $8.48, I would say $8.84. Once I did this to a lady and when she pulled up to the window and I apologized for my error she said, “you did that to me last time.” I don’t know how to explain how embarrassing this is. Maybe it’s debatable, but I’m not an idiot. The way people are treated who work retail or fast-food is not that great in general. I always got the feeling from people coming through Starbucks that they thought they were better than me and my co-workers, just because we worked in fast-food. Which, needless to say, is very irritating to a college grad. Not that my education makes be better than others (for I am privileged), but it’s very hurtful
when “the suits” come in and belittle you with their guise of friendly banter, or worse with their insistance that you did not make their drink correctly when in fact you did. Whoever said “the customer is always right” didn’t think that through very well. Anyway, back to my dyslexia.

So, today I went into work at 1:00 pm, when I was scheduled. Or so I thought. Remember, I have problems with numbers. One of my co-baristas said, “what are you doing here? You were supposed to work at 7 am.” Believing with all my heart that I was supposed to work at 1:00 I said, “no I wasn’t.” Bob, who I love, said “yes you were, that’s why I’m here.” And he whipped out the schedule, which looks like this:

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
8-3:30 1-7 7-1 1-7

How cruel is that!!? I can’t explain what my mind does. You read the definition. It’s a disorder in my brain! A disorder that cost me $39.00 plus about another $30 in tips! Not to mention it makes me look like I can’t read and made the morning more hectic than it needed to be for my co-workers. That’s what I feel most badly about, because mornings are busy. I know what it’s like to get called into work at 7:00 am when you aren’t scheduled like Bob did this morning. Only that was never because someone was dyslexic. It was always because someone decided they just didn’t want to come to work that day. Fortunately, when I worked with Bob last week, who is a poet, we talked about writing and things of that nature and in the discussion dyslexia actually came up and it turns out we both have it mildly. So Bob felt my pain. I still feel like a moron.

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