The Stuttering Tax
Imagine my friend, let’s call her Margot, is eating a chicken Caesar salad at her favorite restaurant. Margot is a beautiful, smart, fashionable, and lovely young woman who just so happens to be in love with food (especially a good salad).
The restaurant is slammed, but she is still enjoying her meal. After Margot finishes eating, the waitress gives her the bill. Margot glances it over before handing the waitress her debit card. But while she’s looking at it, she notices an error. She did not order the lobster! Now the meal is way more expensive than she anticipated.
The waitress notices her worried look and asks impatiently, “Is there something wrong?” But without missing a beat, Margot answers, “No”, while shaking her head. “Everything seems to be fine,” and hands the waitress her debit card. After she pays, Margot leaves and goes about the rest of her day.
Now you are probably wondering, why didn’t Margot say anything to the waitress? Margot seems capable, right? But there is something that I didn't mention, Margot has a stutter.
If you have a stutter, you know that talking in a pressured situation, can often times make your stutter worse. In order to avoid these kind of awkward encounters, and in this case, to not make the hurried waitress wait, Margot decided to take one for the team.
Situations like this are examples of what people call “the stuttering tax.” I was in class one day, and I heard my professor talk about this concept. I have a stutter and I have done what Margot did in the restaurant before, so I was familiar with the concept. But, I had never heard of the term before.
In my example with Margot, she had to sacrifice her money, in order to keep the impatient waitress content. But Margot, or myself, should never have to feel like people pleasing is more important than our own voice. We are both smart and competent enough to correct a small mistake. If you are a fellow stutterer, I understand how much courage it takes to speak when you know that a stutter or block is coming. Please don't let your self doubt stop you! Because if I can do it, you certainly can too.
When I went back to therapy, this was one of the hardest things for me to overcome, just ask my speech therapist! ;) Although I am not perfect, I am getting much better at it than before I started therapy at Circle Creek. Now I see it as a challenge, rather than a feared or dreaded situation. It can be either painful, or effortless. Nevertheless, I never regret speaking up for myself.
If you don’t find yourself relating to me or Margot, I just encourage you to be more patient. If you notice that your customer, friend, or stranger, is having a hard time catching up with their words, please do not make it worse for them. Trust me, they want to be over with their dysfluent speech as much as you do!
If you think about it, those who stutter are giving you a great gift! And that gift is listening. I once found this quote that said, “People who stutter have the unique opportunity to make the world listen” (author unknown).
How often do you get to stop fully what you’re doing, and focus on one thing? For me anyways, that is rare because I am always multi-tasking. If you find yourself acting as that waitress, take just ten more seconds out of your day to make eye contact, and turn towards them so that you can listen attentively to someone who just wants to be heard.
If you would like to meet up with one of our speech therapists here at Circle Creek Therapy, and talk about stuttering for you or a loved one, please don't hesitate to call us at 253.237.3405! :)