I thought I wanted to be a chief academic officer at a college until I became one. Then I started having thoughts about leaving higher education. Those thoughts came at about the time the De Queen Bee was looking for a writer. I drove to De Queen, talked to the publisher and editor and took the job.
My first task after joining the paper was to cover an important trial. I had just received two new digital hearing aids from the VA. The busy, loud, clackity-clack of a newsroom makes it the world’s worst place to get used to new hearing aids, so it was a relief to go to the relative quiet of the court house to cover the trial.
When testimony got underway, I turned the volume buttons up high so I wouldn’t miss anything, causing the devices to squeal at a pitch above my capacity to hear. I noticed people, including the judge, looking in my direction. Finally, a policeman I knew came over to me and said, “Dan, your ear piece is making a noise.” Embarrassed, I turned the volume down and then it seemed as if the hearing aids were blocking my hearing, so I removed them and found a way to move closer to the front.
I simply could not get used to the things stuck in my ears, so, I don’t use them anymore and I think my hearing has improved. Just this past week, for example, I was driving down the road with my wife. She asked, “The VA doesn’t do an annual urine test any more, do they?” I heard the word “urine” as “hearing” and replied, “No, my hearing is a lot better than it used to be.” I didn’t know why my wife thought that was so funny until she said, “URINE test, Danny, not hearing test.” Then I saw the irony. My delusion that I am hearing better was shattered in one fell swoop.
That misunderstanding reminded me of the hot summer day years ago when I was riding my bicycle way out in the country. As I passed a little boy leaning on his mailbox, I thought I heard him say, “Hi, Danny.” I stopped, wondering who the kid was as only my loved ones call me Danny.
“Where do you know me from?”
“I don’t know you from nowhere.”
“Well, you called my name when I rode by.”
“I didn’t, neither.”
“Well, what did you say?”
“I said, ‘Hot, ain’t it.”
It sounded like “Hi, Danny” to me.