Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Well, at least I have the ears of an 18 year old.

Just had my hearing tested. Always a fun experience it is. Because I work in a factory where there's harmful noise levels my Place of Employment makes everyone take a hearing test once a year. (Actually, I think the government makes my PoE test us, but they'd probably do it anyway). Even those of us who rarely go out on the production floor (i.e. me and my fellow office buddies) have to be tested. I don't mind really, because I'd like to know when I can officially blame my selective hearing on actual documented hearing loss.

So here's the process:
Step 1: A guy in a converted truck/camper/thingamajiggy drives up and parks in our parking lot.
Step 2: Potentially Hearing Challenged employees go outside in groups of three or four.
Step 3: Sit in the back half of the converted camper hearing test-mobile and fill out a little questionnaire.

One of the questions was "Do you have a relative who has a problem with hearing loss?" I circled yes, because, as crazy as this may sound, I'm related to Old People. I know! Crazy! Did the question writer mean 'relatives who aren't naturally deaf due to oldfogyitis?' because if he/she did, he/she needs to be more specific next time.

Step 4: Watch a cheesy 'Hearing Loss Is Bad' video that you would swear was made in the 70's if it wasn't for the inclusion of Furbys.

WARNING: Furbys = noise pollution!

Step 5: Have someone who's probably not a doctor (no white coat, stethoscope, or nametag with Dr. on it) stick one of those ear probes in your ear and look for... Atlantis? Hoffa? Gas for only $1.99 a gallon? I have no idea. And being the good little informed test subject that I was, I didn't ask.

Step 6: Take one whole step to the front section of the HearingTestMobile, sit on a little stool (of which there are four), put on some bitchin' headphones, and prepare to be tested.

I'm always a little anxious at this part. I don't know why. I could miss a few beeps and I'd probably still have a decent score. And if I fail it, its not like I'll be fired over it. This is, after all, for my benefit. I know all this, and still I get paranoid that I'll miss a beep. Because dammit, I want to have perfect hearing!

The really faint beeps get me every time. Some sort of survival animal instinct that flairs up in the face of danger. Was that a beep? It sounded like a beep. It was really faint so maybe it wasn't... maybe I'm just imagining the beep. See? I can imagine it right now. Sounds just the... wait, now that was a beep. I think. Will I be penalized for guessing?

I've been at this job for about five years now. So that means four or five hearing tests. And its pretty much the same thing over and over again. So by the third test, I knew what to expect. Knew how long it would take, what the beeps sounded like, etc. So I'm sitting there, taking the test for the third time (maybe second time... wish my memory was as good as my hearing). I hear about two or three beeps. And then nothing. Nothing. And I started to freak out because I knew there were still a few more normal beeps to be beeped before the softer beeps beeped. And I thought, holy crap I'm deaf! Then I noticed my fellow test subjects were looking around with panicked looks in their eyes. Turns out someone unplugged us. Test turned off. Not deaf. Halle-freaking-luiah!

Step 7: push the button (that looks like the button on jeopardy) when you hear the beep
Step 8: get your test results

The two guys taking the test with me have been here for a couple of years, working out on the production floor all day (plus, they're fairly older gentleman, and they probably own a couple of furbys) so the lines on their graphs dipped down low. Not low enough to signal any problems, thankfully, but they still dipped. My lines? They stayed relatively at the top. Yay me! The HearingTestMobile Driver Guy got all technical when explaining the results of the other two, but when he saw mine he said, 'eh, you can pretty much hear everything.' So, I've got that going for me. :)

Step 9: sign test results saying you understand that furbys are evil noise polluters and that you... I don't remember. Dammit. Where's my memory test? Actually, I don't think I even read what I was signing. First I let a non-doctor probe my ear canals, then I sign something without reading it. D'oh! I'm feeling very secure in my choices today.

I handed my signed test results to the HearingTestMobile Driver Guy and got a copy back for my own records (which I'm having framed, of course.) But when I handed it to him, he touched the back of my hand for a longer-than-necessary time period. It was weird. It was less of a hey-someone's-flirting-with-me kind of touch and more of a creepy-camper-guy-is-feeling-up-my-hand-uninvited kind of touch. It was just... weird. So I ran out of there before he offered to check out the inside of my ear canals again.

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