Days without Stuttering

Many years ago, after learning how to drive, I learned something else: that you have to pump and pay for gas. It’s simple, yes, but of course it’s an additional interaction that I had to deal with. More stuttering.

In those days (Let’s say the late 90s when I was leaving high school and getting into college) you’d pull up to the pump, get out, pick the gas you wanted, pump it, hang the pump back up, and then walk inside to pay. All the pumps had numbers, so you simply told them what number pump you were on.

Tell them. Numbers. Easy words. Not many words. Just one, really. Maybe a hello first.

I hated this. Some of the numbers were easier to say, sure, but you never knew how many other cars were going to be there. And you never knew how many other people would be standing in line inside, waiting to pay for sodas and Twinkies. And of course it was like, why would you hesitate on this answer? They’d ask, you’d say. How can you not know? The number is right there — it’s huge. And if there was a line, you’d feel the pressure of that as well.

Miraculously, a few years later, most of the pumps started to change. They took credit cards. I had a credit card. You swipe, pump, and go. No talking. No pointing helplessly. No anxiety. Swipe, pump, go. Swipe, pump, go. Everything should be this easy!

Over the past few years a lot of things have become this easy …

So over the next few days I wanted to write out a thought experiment of sorts — morning, noon and night as someone who stutters but has decided to not talk to anybody for anything. What would that look like?

I think it’s important to consider technology in our lives and what it can do to help those of us who stutter. If I have 30 activities in a day, I can choose a path where I don’t talk to anybody for all of them. The next day, I can challenge myself. I can talk on one of them. Then the next day, two, and three, and so on. I can slowly build confidence on my own terms.

Another way of putting this is to show people (those who don’t stutter) just how easy it can be to be a covert stutterer. (Note — I’m not talking about the emotional stuff — just the interactive stuff.)

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