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When a Woman Didn't Realize I'd Heard Her Making Fun of My Speech Impediment

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I try really hard to not take things that strangers say personally, especially when I know I wasn’t meant to hear it.

But that’s something I believe everyone should become more aware of: you never know who can hear you. You never know how deep your words will cut. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words are what will keep me up at night.

Despite my speech impediment I recently took a job at a call center, and let me tell you, I get my share of rude callers daily. But today something a little different happened. We are not allowed to hang up the phone at the end of a call; we must wait for the member to disconnect. I had finished my call and told the member to “have a great rest of her week,” and I thought she’d hung up, but instead she must of just put the phone down. That’s when I heard her begin to make fun of me to who I assume is her husband.

“Could you ever imagine having a person with a speech impediment work for you…?”

She then went on to mimic the way I talk and finished by saying she “couldn’t get my voice right” because I “sounded more retarded than that.” She and her husband laughed before realizing the phone wasn’t off and hanging up on me.

The thing is, I know I have a speech impediment, and I know it can be hard for people to understand me. I try so hard to speak slowly and clearly, and I have come to accept that I am not going to grow out of this, but that doesn’t stop it from being the thing I’m the most self-conscious about. The incident today involved a 70-something-year-old woman who was making fun of a stranger she will never talk to again and probably never think of. But to me she’s the woman who tore a hole in an insecurity I was just starting to close.

Yet another call came in, and my day went on. And I know I have a voice much greater than the one that woman made fun of.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: September 29, 2016
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