Just before my cab arrived, I got a notification: “Your driver is deaf. Please use the chat or other means of communication.”
When I got into the car, a quick thumbs up was enough to confirm my destination, and as we zipped through the busy Kuala Lumpur streets, I felt impressed by the driver’s good “sense” of where everyone was going despite lacking one of the most crucial when it comes to navigating — his hearing. He struggled a bit with motorcycles whooshing past out of nowhere, but other than that, he drove as if he’d never done anything else in life.
Realizing that my usual “Thank you” wouldn’t do much in terms of a goodbye, I quickly googled “how to say thank you in sign language” on my phone. I watched a 3-second video of a woman showing the gesture — you simply hold your hand straight, place it squarely on your chin, back facing forward, and then lower your forearm like a drawbridge in an “opening” motion — and then repeated it as I exited the cab. The driver broke into a wide smile and enthusiastically gave me multiple “that’s great!!” thumbs up signs.
I don’t know if our interaction made his day or not, but I am sure it at least brightened it. I feel those 30 seconds of research were well invested, and often, it doesn’t take much more than that to be kind. You may not always get an opportunity as obvious as this one, but even if you don’t, 30 seconds to think about what someone might enjoy or like can go a long way.
The other day, someone told me they keep a list of their connections’ likes in their notes, and that can come in handy too. When in doubt, however, it’s usually enough to say “Thank you” in someone’s native language. It might seem like a small thing, but so is taking a cab or reading this blog — and that’s why the small things are what life is made of.