Okay, so maybe this title isn’t necessarily true. I was trying to be cute, okay? Besides, there is a morsel of truth in this statement, a morsel which I am going to talk about today.
As a hearing impaired person, one of my biggest insecurities is being around people when my hearing aid or cochlear implant isn’t on. I don’t think this is too hard to understand: there is a certain vulnerability about being around people (sometimes even people you know and love) without one of your most important senses. Some analogies I can think of include wearing a blindfold when there are others in the room or being physically tied up when there are others in the room. It just isn’t the most comfortable situation.
As a result, for me, having a good roommate is of utmost importance. My roommate must be someone that I know and trust. Someone that understands my situation and is accustomed to it. Luckily for me, my current roommate, Cristina, fits this criteria (she is also fantastic so that helps a lo)t. Not only is she incredibly bright, caring, and sweet, she was also one of my closest friends in middle school. We lost touch in high school, but when USC randomly assigned us to the same room freshman year, it was like no time passed at all. I quickly became comfortable with her, trusting her to alert me of things I may miss when my hearing aids are out — important things, like fire alarms or intruders, or anything I haven’t thought of but could catch me off guard, particularly without my hearing aids. We have an understanding that she can wake me up or pull me out of the shower (the two times I don’t wear my hearing devices are when I’m asleep or showering) if there is ever a cause to do so.
Even though I have an amazing roommate, it is of utmost importance that a hearing impaired person, like myself, be able to function in case of emergency when roommates aren’t around. In my one and almost a half years in college, the primary housing related issue for me has been FIRE ALARMS. Now, if you have a fantastic memory, you may recall that I said I can hear loud noises when my hearing devices are out, like sirens or alarms. Allow me to clarify: I can hear these noises, but they aren’t very loud. They are more like a whispers or hints of sound in my ear. If I am sound asleep, which let’s be honest, most fire alarms go off the minute you enter a REM cycle, the sound given off by a regular alarm will not be enough to wake me. This is where those annoying flashing fire alarms come in.
These flashing fire alarms are not uncommon, yet, I have had to essentially grovel to ensure that I was assigned to, or could have such an alarm installed, in my room. That way, while the sound certainly won’t wake me, that bright, burning, flashing light will. Now, and rather unfortunately if you ask me, there is no chance that I will not wake up in case of a fire, or more likely, a false alarm, at 4 a.m. in the morning. Cool.
In my personal experience, all it takes for me to feel comfortable living in an apartment with friends like a real, live, actual mostly functioning, semi adult-ish human being is an accommodating and fantastic roommate and a properly functioning alarm system, my plan A and B, respectively. With these two things in place, I feel comfortable taking out my hearing devices at home. But let’s be honest. Why take out your hearing devices when you can blast your music? Home is where the dance parties are.