On the surface, it was an ordinary trip to Panera. I was early to meet a friend and had 20 minutes to kill, and my hair was in desperate need of a brush. I marched into Panera, past the cashier, past the food counter, around the corner and into the bathroom. I have a pretty determined walk. When I'm focused on something, no matter how trivial, I like to imagine that my brow is furrowed with intensity as I set about to complete my mission. Anyway, I'm in the bathroom, brushing away, listening to the intercom squawk, squawk, squawk. I know they're just blaring out food orders, so I ignore it, finish making myself purty, leave and find a place to sit and play with my Sidekick until my friend comes.
In my head, this is how it went down. Please keep in mind that I have been feeding on a steady media diet of 24, Lost and Alias the last few years. I march in, brow furrowed in concentration. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to kill Time. I stride with determined steps past the cashier. Out of the corner of my eye, I think I see her head turn, but I don't look. Was she looking? Did she say something? Did she say something important that I really needed to hear? I don't care, because I have a Mission to complete. I enter the bathroom and whip out my trusty weapons, Brush and Bobby Pin. Suddenly, the blare of the intercom explodes in the room! I imagine the announcements aren't food orders, but orders to COME OUT NOW! I'm in trouble because I didn't make eye contact with the cashier and somehow automatically brands me as a ne'er-do-well. The squawks continue and I brush away, ready to defend myself against the army of FBI agents that I just know will bust through the door at any minute.
I just know it. Jack Bauer has nothing on me. Nothing.
(Never say I don't entertain myself well)
With the hearing loss I have, I can recongize the noise of the intercom (and understand that it's not, say, the voice of the person next to me or someone shouting through a megaphone) but that's all it is - noise. I have no idea what they're saying. Imagine you heard announcements in a language you didn't recognize and you might get a glimmer of what it's like.
My crazy imagination aside, I know that intercom announcements are (usually) harmless. At Panera, they're just telling so-and-so that their food is ready. At stores, they're paging for the manager to come to the front desk. And so on and so on. Whenever I go shopping, the first thing I do is check to see how late the store is open. Sometimes, if I'm shopping later at night and I hear an announcement, I don't know if they're warning me that the store is closing or just making some random announcement like "Bob Ella to the front desk. Bob Ella to the front desk. Your sister-wife is here with your baby daddy." (Disclaimer: I do not shop at places where people could be named Bob Ella or have sister-wives. There may be baby daddys involved, however.) So if I know the store closes at 9:30 and I hear the intercom say something at 9:15, I know I'm being warned to wrap it up. Otherwise, I blissfully ignore it. Sometimes I even turn off my hearing aids so I don't have to listen to BLAH BLAH SHUENDO EHSBEJDI MEBDSK (it sounds something like that to me!) over and over and over again.
I'm telling you, there are advantages to hearing aids!! :)