My love affair with Dunkin' Donuts became serious after I had my daughter, Claire. Though I have always liked coffee, I used to be able to take or leave a cup in the morning, and I was not particularly partial to any brand or shop. Once I became a working mother of two, however, coffee became a necessity, and if I didn't have it, my chances of having a good day were minimal.
My local Dunkin' Donuts is within two miles of my home, and my addiction intensified after experiencing the intoxicating joy of my local drive thru attendant, a blonde and smiling woman my friends and I have come to refer to as "Thank you, Thank you." Why? After handing over my money for my necessary morning drink, this woman- who I've since learned starts work before the crack of dawn- cheerfully leans out the window and gives me a glee-igniting smile and wave before saying her signature, upbeat "Thank you, Thank YOU!"
It is the BEST, and I. LOVE. HER.
About a year before my surgery, my trips to the drive thru window lessened. Even in rain and snow, I started to park the car and walk into Dunkin' Donuts to place an order instead of go through the drive thru. Soon, I was pretty much avoiding the drive thru altogether, which was often inconvenient and time-consuming. As I noticed my hearing declining, the experience of the drive thru- and most experiences in my life, for that matter- became anxiety-provoking. Receiving my coffee from Thank You, Thank You had always been so fun, but it was no longer the same, and I was plagued with insecurity about not being able to hear the voice over the speaker. It was yet another reminder that I couldn't perform such an everyday task, and it depressed me.
Since my surgery, I have visited my local Dunkin' Donuts several times, and I have tried the drive thru once again. In the beginning, it was HORRIBLE, and I would end up pulling the processor off my ear, sometimes abandoning the speaker to give my order at the window.
But I'm improving. Even though I don't hear each word Thank you, Thank you says over the speaker (or whoever is working the window for that matter), it's getting better. MUCH better. (Also exciting, though irrelevant to the story, is that I recently purchased an iced coffee koozie from DD. It's awesome. So I now have coffee, koozie, drive thru, Thank You, Thank You, and I'm hearing. WINNING!)
So today I was driving home from a work meeting where I sat among approximately 100 colleagues in an echo-filled hotel conference room non-stop for seven hours. It was a lot of voices- A LOT of noise- but to date, it was the BEST I have heard at a meeting.
When it was time to leave, I welcomed a brain break. During my commute home, I took off my processor in need of some quiet. My ears continued to ring throughout my drive (a common occurrence after a few hours of noise), but I was still given some respite from hours of constant sound.
Tired, I decided to visit a Dunkin' Donuts on the way home for a little pick-me-up (not Thank You, Thank You's location, sadly, but I don't think she works the evening shift anyway). Pulling up to the speaker, I waited.
"Hmm," I thought to myself, "I'm not used to visiting the drive thru this time of day, so I wonder if maybe the staff person doesn't stay by the window as much as a morning attendant might.... Oh WAIT! My PROCESSOR!"
As quickly as I could, I put the processor back on my ear and sure enough, there was a voice: "Can I take your order?"
When I got to the window, I asked the pretty teenage girl if she had been talking to me for a while without me responding.
"Yes," she said smiling shyly. The old Pam would have been embarrassed, but I just laughed. I then told her about my surgery, and still laughing, I told her how nice it was to know the implant was, indeed, working. She laughed too, and told me she was happy for me.
Driving away, a smile on my face, I was once again reminded that I'm moving forward in my journey in so many ways. I said a prayer using one of my favorite phrases: "Thank you, THANK YOU!"