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Dining out at a restaurant can be problematic these days. Noise levels have grown, tables are stacked closer and closer together, and glass and hardwood are all the rage for decor, leaving even less cushioning or carpet behind for sound absorption. Layer hearing loss on top of all this, and dining out can be quite a challenge.
Nevertheless, a brave group of us, four of whom, including myself, have hearing issues, ventured out to dinner last Friday night. The degrees of hearing loss varied, and the technology employed by each person was different. We had six hearing aids, two cochlear implants and a very handy Roger pen between us, so we found a way to make it work and had a heck of a good time. But it took a little extra effort.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we requested a table in a quiet location, explaining that most of us had hearing issues. This had not been noted in our reservation, which was a mistake. Note to self -- always indicate the desire for a quiet location when making a restaurant reservation. Despite this oversight, the hostess indicated she had a quiet spot for us. We were thrilled until she sat us in the center of a very noisy room. There were no walls nearby to block the sound or soft surfaces anywhere to absorb the noise. The clanking of silverware on plates only augmented the incessant din of other people's conversations. We took our seats and knew right away, we were going to have a problem.
So we began looking around the restaurant. Was there a quieter spot available? Was there a manager who might be more receptive to our request than the hostess had been? It was a long shot, but we decided to try again to get a more conducive setting for our group. Worst case, we would stay in our noisy spot and make the most of it, like we always do.
We asked for the manager and explained our situation. After a moment's thought, he mentioned that the bar area had an open table that was available. We were skeptical -- bar areas are notoriously loud -- but upon further inspection by one of our group, we discovered it was much better!
We moved to the bar, enjoyed our quieter surroundings, the delicious food and drink at the restaurant, and each other's company. We still could not hear perfectly -- that was never going to be the case -- but the conversation flowed more easily than it would have in the first location.
Most notably, we learned an important lesson in self-advocacy. Despite the disappointment of our first seating assignment, none of us got upset, or raised our voices, or caused a scene; and that was never the plan. But by politely asking a second time for an accommodation, we found someone who could help and a solution that worked well. We were all so glad that we did.
Readers, do you advocate for yourself when dining out?
This post first appeared on Living With Hearing Loss.