Do you have close relatives that cannot remember to get your attention before speaking to you, or make sure you can see their lips, or speak clearly, with sufficient volume? Every time I get together with my mother (who lives three miles from me), I ALWAYS have to say one (or more) of the following phrases numerous times:

  • I can’t hear you!
  • What was that?
  • Did you know I have a hearing loss, Mom?
  • Are you talking to me?

Why can’t she remember to communicate properly with me? It doesn’t matter where we are; her place, my place, or in public. It drives me nuts! But one time it almost drove me into the poorhouse.

After I finished graduate school, I applied for a Librarian position several hours away in Jacksonville, Florida. I didn’t trust my old clunker to make the trip and asked my mother if I could borrow her nice car. She agreed to let me use it, and took a vacation day to go with me.

Driving to the interview was uneventful, and the interview lasted a few hours. Anxious to get home, I took a shortcut hoping to shave some time off this long trip. I did this by driving through a little town called Waldo (population 821). My mother chose this time to mumble something to me, and because the road was empty, I turned my head to lipread her.

For those of you who don’t know, Waldo is one of two places in the United States identified by AAA as a “speed trap.” The speed limit changes from 65 down to 45 in the space of half a mile! The good people of Waldo have only 8 police officers who manage to write an astounding 500+ tickets each month. The revenue from these tickets covers 25% of the town’s budget.

I don’t need to tell you that lipreading and driving through a speed trap is NOT A GOOD IDEA. The resulting $200 speeding ticket was tough to pay, as I was fresh out of school and jobless. Outrageous car insurance premiums hounded me for three years following this ticket.

And I didn’t get that job.