What I’m Stuttering on Lately

Two stories for today’s entry.

Valentine’s Day (of course). So there’s this certain kind of Pakistani breakfast food that my wife really enjoys. It’s a street-food type thing. And of course being here in Saudi, there’s a Pakistani neighborhood, complete with many shops. The only issue is that I have no idea specifically where to get this stuff, and to find out, I’d have to … talk to someone.

But I decide to suck it up. My son and I went out early in the morning before anybody else in the house was up. I had to stop at the office for a quick errand. On the way back, we dove into the neighborhood. We drove around aimlessly for a while, trying to spot a shop from the car. I had been taken to this place before, but it was at night. I had to find someone to ask. You can tell the difference between the Pakistanis and the Saudis based on their dress. So I knew who I was looking for. Finally I found a guy walking along the road. I rolled down the window and started talking. I said the name of the stuff I was looking for. I didn’t stutter on it, but my breathing was off. He gave me a sort-of blank stare. But then asked if I was speaking Arabic or Urdu or what. I said Urdu, and said the name again a few times. He got it. Then instead of giving me directions, he just hopped into the car. Ok …

He pointed here and there, and on we drove. He got us into a more specific area of the neighborhood. This is what I wanted! We let him out with a thank you. My son and I found some parking and then started walking. I wanted to find a shop that was crowded (forgetting about how I don’t like going to crowded restaurants because ordering there is even more stressful). We saw a place, and saw the stuff we wanted.

I pointed and ordered, and the guy asked me how many. I said just one. Then, right there, sitting in the same place, was the guy who helped us in the car. He stood up and told the person behind the counter to help us out and ordered exactly what we wanted. Ah, making connections.

Then I noticed some other food that I wanted, so I pointed and asked for that as well. Another person standing next to me clarified it in Urdu to the person taking the order. So even though I stuttered a little here and there, I managed to push through and get what I wanted — and get something special for my wife for Valentine’s Day.

Second story —

After getting out of the neighborhood, my son and I went over to the Starbucks for coffee. The day before I had denied him a request for hot chocolate. So today I thought I’d oblige. But of course he threw a curveball and asked for a white hot chocolate. He told me this right before walking into the store, so I had only a few seconds to freak out about trying to say “white.”

So I ordered for myself what I usually do and stuttered just a little. Then I pushed really hard and got my son’s order out. The funny thing is that often those of us who stutter end up drinking/eating things we don’t want because that’s what’s easiest to day. In this case, I was able to order exactly what my son wanted, but the guy didn’t really know how to make it. And I didn’t know what was supposed to be in it, either. He conferred with his colleague, but then still added coffee in it (don’t think you’re supposed to … still need to check on that) so I said no, no, it’s ok, no big deal. (It was early — a little caffeine for an 8-year-old can’t be that bad, right?)

In both instances I made sure that the stuttering took a back seat for the needs of others. I’m not going to deny loved ones things just because I can’t say something comfortably. I can suck it up, and I can work through it.

Comments

  1. Hi, Rehan. I was pleasantly surprised to have you visit my site. More importantly, I want to thank you for sharing your story. In grad school, I interviewed an adult who suffered from stuttering since childhood. It was astonishing to know that he picked the street he lived on and even the company that he worked for based on his ability to say their names without stuttering. This post reminds me of that. It helps me remember that there is so much more to stuttering than non-fluency. I’ve heard it called the ‘stuttering iceberg’: there are bigger things underneath the surface- parts that we just don’t see as professionals, parts that makes someone order food that they don’t even want. Thanks so much for helping me see a bit of what’s underneath. Keep up the good work!

    • Jen, thanks for reading! Yeah, the iceberg is definitely a real deal. I started mining mine a few years ago and have barely gotten a few feet down, I think. As per my addresses, I haven’t had much choice … I’ve lived on streets that started with a ‘cr,’ a hard ‘d,’ and a vowel … oof.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: