He Can’t Speak to You, He’s Dead

Mike was a very proficient speaker in English. He had just finished his English Studies abroad in England and shortly after graduation; he took a job with a big company processing memberships for a gym.  One of his jobs was signing up new guests and cancelling memberships when it was requested by the client.

The Call

The phone in Mike’s office rang.  He answered the call and asked the person on the phone how he could help him.  The man on the phone said, “I need to cancel a membership.”  Mike said, “No problem. I just need to get a bit of information.”  “What’s your first name?” Mike continued.  The man said, “Oh, but the cancelation isn’t for me, it’s for a friend.”  Mike said, “I am sorry sir, but you can only cancel a membership that belongs to you.”  That won’t be possible because my friend is dea♣.” The man explained.  “Well, I am sorry to hear about that.” Mike stated.  “In that case, you will need to send a copy of his death certificate to us and then we will begin the cancelation process.” The man, upset by this inconvenience stated, “A death certificate isn’t necessary and my friend is right here with me. I can communicate with him.” The man explained.  Mike was unsure how to handle this information.  The man on the phone had his dead friend there with him?  Was this a joke? Mike didn’t really know if he understood what was happening.  “How can you communicate with him if he is dead?” he asked.   The man on the phone replied angrily, “sign language.”   Embarrassed, Mike realized quickly that the man’s friend wasn’t dead, he was deaf.

Is this a joke?

Is this a joke?

Dead, Death or Deaf?

One of the most challenging things for someone working with a different language is to communicate via the telephone.   Take away the ability to see facial expressions, hand gestures, or any other body language and a phone conversation can be quite challenging.  Add to that, words like dead, death or deaf, which all sound fairly similar, and you have an even more difficult task.


♣ = f

About englishworkshopmexico

My name is James. I work as a teacher and marketer with English Workshop in Mexico City. We provide Business English courses to aspiring people who are looking to move up the career ladder or simply become more international. I have been with English Workshop for around two years and I very much enjoy the teaching and marketing profession.
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