Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taxi Cab Speech Therapy

I've mentioned it on here before a few times, but for those that don't know, I am a lifelong stutterer.    Sometimes my fluency is better than others, and depends on lots of factors.  I hate the phone, and public speaking is a big hell no.  Some conversations are smooth and easy, other times I struggle. If I am tired, or have had a drink or two, my speech gets sticky. Larry was the first person to successfully get me to speak on the phone for any length of time, pretty quickly putting me at ease.  Good thing too, or we'd never be the power couple we are today.  It's a very personal thing, and my family and friends have gone to the ends of the earth to help me in my fluency.  Stuttering is a neurological issue, not a learned behavior.  My brain is wired differently than others, and the signals to my mouth and vocal chords get mixed up.  I've learn how to deal with it over the years, and I do a fairly good job of not letting it hold me back on stuff.  Not always...sometimes I shy away from the phone and other difficult situations for me, but I normally push through it.  It is part of who I am, and I've learned in my advanced age that if someone has an issue with it, they can take a long walk off a short pier.

So today, I hopped into a cab, and was expecting my usual quiet ride, where I rifle through my bag, looking for sunglasses, mints, money, ect.  Sometimes I pass the time texting friends or Larry.  Every once in a while I will have a chatty cab driver though.  Today was one of those days.

Conversation between Me and Mokithar ("you can call me Mo"):

Mo: Where you from, Lah?

Me: America (stuttered on the m)

Mo: aaaaahhh....nice, nice, very nice.  Very Big.  You Like my country, lah?

Me: Yes, very much.

Mo: How long you live here?

Me: Two years.

Mo: How much your rent? (I get asked this all the time....it seems normal now)

Me: Too much, lah!

Mo: hahahahaha....I see, I see.

We drive along in silence for a bit....Mo is dodging motor cycles.  I'm trying not to bring up my breakfast.

Mo: Ma'am, if I may?

Me: (thinking oooh boy, here it comes...gonna ask me how much I weigh, or some other screamingly personal thing)  Sighing, Sure, go ahead?

Mo: When I was a little boy, I also talk like you, always getting stuck on my words.  I think you and I were frightened as children, so we afraid to let out words.

Me: hhmm, oh really (not very interested....I've heard all sorts of stuttering stories, and well, it's a very, very personal thing.  I rarely discus it, and if I do, it is with the very inner circle of family and friends)

Mo: Yes, yes, lah!  And my Grandmother, she cure me!

Me: Really?  (ok, I'll bite...) How did she do that?

Mo:  Well, whenever I would talk, and my words would get stuck, she would very quietly come up behind me and hit me with a pillow.  This would shock me, and my words would get unstuck.

Me: (shocked, slightly freaked out) Mo!  Really?  and this worked?

Mo: yes, yes, you try lah!  can!

Me: hhmm...I don't know...I don't really want to be hit.

Mo: ask your husband or friends to use a pillow....softly, lah!  this will shock the words out of you, and you won't be stuck.

Me:  ok, ok....maybe I will try.

This pleases Mo, and he is quiet for a few more minutes.  Then he looks worried.

Mo: ask your husband to use a pillow....not a hard stick,lah!  If he use a hard stick, you will hurt head, and you talk no more, lah!  

Me: Guffawing....I know, I know, something soft!  hahahahahaha....(we both were giggling at this point...the visual was great)

Mo: You try, you try. I help you with this, yes?

Me: ok, I will tell my husband.

He then went on to talk to me about his grandmother, and all her ideas for healthy living. Kidney health was big with her, and Mo suggested I go into the jungle and find some herbs to eat for good kidney function.  I'm gonna get right on that.

So, Mom, Dad, and other family and friends that have spent years and years encouraging my fluency, not to mention the thousands and thousands of dollars and hours spent on speech therapy, I guess we had it wrong.  All you had to do was sneak up behind me and bop me over the head with a pillow!  Softly, lah!  And for goodness sake, don't use a hard stick!


Leone said...

OK ... a soft one....hmmm..... maybe a feather pillow lah?

It sure must have been an interesting taxi ride ... what a conversation....


Jo said...

I have yet to be asked how much rent we pay, although the other day someone came close - I can't remember what he said, something like "Where you live is more expensive than here" (place we were driving past). Buddy - you haven't seen the size of my shoebox, but yes, it is expensive!!

Joel and Maureen said...

Too funny! I wonder what else getting hit with a soft pillow solves. Crankiness? Joel is getting thwacked in the head tomorrow. :)

Anyhow, loved that post. I give you major kudos for "pushing through" as much as you do. I know it isn't easy. And I can't imagine what a challenge it must be when there's a language and cultural barrier too.

Anyhow, thanks for sharing. That was really sweet.

cajunsis said...

What a heartfelt post. I love you for who you are, not how you speak - as do the rest of us. I admire you for trudging through the rough spots and your bravery in an Asian world? Outstanding kudos for that.

Now I have to know, has Larry whopped you yet? roflmao... this literally has me laughing out loud... the thought. The very thought of this.

And yes, we are asked quite regularly how much we pay for rent.

Catherine said...

Just saw this post - couldn't help but laugh - especially at the way you describe it!

Jo - I can't believe you haven't been asked how much rent you pay yet - that's every Singaporean taxi driver's first question!!

Some of the drivers are really nice - some are rude - and some don't say a word - just like everywhere else in the world I suppose.

Sounds like this guy was genuinely trying to help - even if his methods sound a bit whacky!!

As Euvah said - we all love you for the person you are - your stutter is just part of you xxx

Lynda said...

Lynda said =

Great story, really had a chuckle xx

andrea said...

i really love your writing, your honesty and you are a very good story teller! I agree with Maureen, we could use this to cure many family problems! haha. Very interesting. Keep the stories coming.