Sunday, October 5, 2008

Casper the Friendly Coffee Urn and Other Mysteries

I've been thinking about Tania's blog entry about how she is starting to discover new sounds with her cochlear implant. Sounds she was unaware of before and now must learn to identify - such as the gurgling sound gas makes when it runs through the pump into your car's fuel tank.

I'm actually having the opposite experience these days and I wonder if that's normal with hearing loss. I have a couple of recent examples to explain what I mean. The other day I was sitting in the kitchen with my husband and I became aware of this low buzzing sound. I thought it was coming from the kitchen sink area and I couldn't imagine what it was. I commented on it to my husband. He replied, "No, that's the computer in the living room." I had turned on said computer about five minutes beforehand but even so wasn't convinced my husband was right in this case. I said, "No, I really think it's coming from over there." When I got up to investigate, sure enough, my husband was right. [a reversal of Do You Believe Me Now? Tee hee.]

I was shocked that my sense of direction with sound was so far off! But that's happening more and more to me lately. It's especially bothersome in the car when someone honks their horn. I hear the horn but have no idea which direction it came from and if it was meant for me! Is losing your sense of direction with sound normal?

Another time I was sitting on the couch with a friend when I heard the strangest noise. "What's that?" I asked. My friend reassured me that it was just the sofa springs squeaking. In that case I couldn't believe the sound was so close by and it was really embarassing not to recognize such a common sound.

Photo credit

Early yesterday morning, I had an amusing experience with a truly mysterious sound at a soccer game. I was working alone at the concession stand when one of the other parent helpers brought out a large coffee urn and plugged it into an extension cord near me. Ooooohhhh, whooohh. Ghostly sounds started to emanate from the pot. I put my head right next to it to be sure it was coming from there.

The PTO Lady in Charge stopped by and thought the situation was quite funny. Aware of my hearing loss she asked me if I could hear it. I said, "Yes....Is it loud?". "It's noticeable," she replied tactfully. One of the other soccer moms hanging around said, "I couldn't stand to sit next to that. It would drive me crazy!" I responded, "I guess I'm the perfect person to sit here then!"

Commenting on why the coffee urn was moaning so weirdly, Lady in Charge speculated that the pot had been used for so many funerals (my son goes to a church school) that the spirits had gathered inside. Hmmmm. As for me, I found it really friendly sitting next to Casper the coffee urn. He talked to me more than the other parents did! Once the sun started shining on us an hour later he quieted down. Lady in Charge decided that proved her theory on the spirits.

So readers, what do you think? Is losing the ability to identify common sounds part of normal hearing loss? Have you ever experienced not knowing which direction a sound is coming from?


Karen Putz said...

I can't identify too many sounds much less the direction, but I found this funny!

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Karen,
I'm glad I'm not alone in this puzzlement and also glad that you got a laugh out of my Casper story.

Dianrez said...

It's not unusual. A hearing coworker and I became alarmed when we heard moaning noises from a storage area. Fearing a client had an attack in that inaccessible area, we investigated, hair standing up on our heads, and could not locate the sound.

Finally she found it. The coffee urn beside the door to the storage room. When it heats up, the metal rubs, making that sound. It was really scary early in the morning with no one around and still dark outside.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hee, hee. That's funny, Dianrez. Casper the Friendly Coffee Urn has a cousin in your office!

mishkazena said...

That's funny about the coffee urns.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Mishkazena,
Glad you enjoyed the story. Be sure to check out the Maxine cartoon I posted today.