Hearing from an unlikely source

 

ALAN THOMPSON

acthompson09@ole.augie.edu

 

Hearing from an unlikely audience

A good handshake says hello, but one hand can say “thank you.”

43-year-old Augustana dining services cashier Angela Glann can’t hear students while she swipes their IDs, but she notices when they sign their thanks, bringing their flattened palm from their chin toward her.

Senior Amanda Meyer appreciates Angela’s presence.

“I’m honestly excited when she’s there to swipe my card,” Meyer said. “She’s just always got a very calming demeanor and she’s very hardworking.”

Glann started working in 2011 in the dish room but moved to cashier in September. She misses her five deaf friends in the dish room.

“Most of the deaf people work in the dish room, so we would eat and chat when I worked there,” Glann said. “Now I cashier, so I don’t get much of a break and I don’t get a chance to socialize with them as much—I’m just kind of over here by myself.”

She often jokes around with her 18-year-old son, Jeremy Glann, who works in the dish room. She’ll sign “What’s up?” or “How’s work?” when she sees him across the room.

One day, Jeremy sent Angela a surprising text: “One of my friend’s moving in with us.”

Angela said no, but Jeremy said that his friend’s stuff was already moved in.

“I pretty much fooled her all day long,” Jeremy said. “Toward the end of work, I told her that it wasn’t true. We pick on each other all the time. She loves to mess around.”

Angela’s youthfulness didn’t end in 1988 when she graduated from North High School in Sioux City, Iowa. She still hangs with friends, but wishes she were younger.

“I’m 43—or 34. You can flip those around,” Glann said. “I always stand at the cashier and see all these young students come through, and then I miss being young.”

Angela’s best friend, Dianna Beverly, works in the dish room. They met before kindergarten, and she thinks of Angela like a sister. After years shared over SkipBo and Phase 10, Diana knows Angela well.

“She’s a very sweet person and is understanding,” Beverly said. “She’s patient, works hard and is funny. We still hang out a lot and likes to cook, party and go out of town.”

Meyer, a Spanish education major, thinks that Sign Language adds to the Augustana culture.

“I think it’s neat that Augie students are able to be exposed to Sign Language,” Meyer said. “I’m glad Augie is able to employ people that can speak different languages.”

Some of Jeremy’s friends have learned sign language because they want to speak to Angela, too. It’s her easygoing attitude that’s so loveable, according to Jeremy.

“All my friends love her,” Jeremy said. “Sometimes they act like they’re going to fake-box, and my mom will pretend that she’s going to box, too.”

Jeremy is most proud of his mom’s mental strength, though.

“She’s strong, brave and takes risks,” Jeremy said. “She raised me by herself for pretty much my whole life.”

Fellow cashier Wendy Quintana will make hand gestures to communicate with Angela, but when they share a break, they take to paper—or napkin—to talk.

“When we just want to chat, we write notes to each other,” Quintana said. “We just get a little piece of paper, or a napkin—whatever’s around—and write back and forth.”

After working with Angela, Quintana considers her a good friend and enjoys work more when it’s with Angela.

“I like it better when she’s here,” Quintana said.

When Angela isn’t working, she’s camping, sledding or tubing at Great Bear or traveling. Otherwise, she likes to spend time online, not unlike the college kids that pass through her line.

“I like to sit on Facebook and the Internet,” Glann said. “I like to see what’s going on in the world.”

After almost three years working for Augustana dining services, Angela hopes to stay.

“I feel comfortable here because I know there are deaf people here [and] a few interpreters around here, too,” Glann said.

But she’s comfortable with anyone and sees being deaf as a positive.

“I think it’s a strength,” Glann said. “I’m just the same as anybody else. I function just as anybody else. I feel the same as everybody else. The only difference is I can’t hear.”