Last weekend my wife, Shelagh, and I had the opportunity to visit Quebec City. I like to say that I didn’t bring back the snowy weather that hammered us this past week here on the West Coast. However I did bring back something else. I brought a fresh appreciation for the “ahh” effect.
What do I mean?
Before I answer that, let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed the Quebec experience. The reputation of amazing food definitely fulfilled. The big soft fruit cake looking cubed “pastry” was called French Toast. Although unlike anything by that name that I’ve had before, it went down easy leaving me looking for more.
The sights were continually intriguing. Ancient buildings on every street corner, narrow streets, watching the St. Lawrence River shifting its ice flow back and forth with the tide while brave souls actually paddled across it, and ripping down the speedy toboggan run behind the Chateau Frontenac…all made the experience fun at every turn.
The culture was on full display with the annual Quebec Winter Carnival. Bonhomme, the mascot, made regular appearances. Ice sculptures decorated the city and the ice hotel tour was almost surreal. Yes, people actually spend big money to stay there and even have weddings in the freezing chapel.
One aspect of the culture that I was fully aware of but unprepared for was the predominant use of French for communication. This of course was due to the fact that I only speak ONE language myself.
Most of the signage is in French. The people speak french primarily. At this point you might say, “So, what else did you expect? Everyone knows Quebec is primarily a French speaking community”. And you are right. I did know that. But knowing something and experiencing it fresh are sometimes two different things.
Navigating around town took extra energy. The unfamiliar words on Google maps started to blur together as I found myself relying more on visual landmarks. Most conversations would have to restart after the other person realised that I was ill prepared to communicate. One particular interaction stands out. A family stopped Shelagh and I to ask for directions. They launched into the description of what they were looking for. After a few sentences the glazed look in my eyes clued them into the fact that I wasn’t keeping up. That’s when they graciously switched to fluent English and restarted. And that’s when my pent up frustration with all the effort required to communicate turned into a large internal “ahh” of relief.
We have all experienced the “ahh” effect at various times. It’s when communication is difficult and someone or something is done to make it easier. It’s such a relief.
So what’s the big takeaway?
It’s simply that I’m glad and proud to be in an industry where I get to help provide other people with the “ahh” effect through properly fit and adjusted hearing aids. For some the experience is magical and for others it is some degree of better. My goal and intention is always the same, to increase the “ahhs” and reduce the “huhs?,” in the lives of my patients.
My Quebec City experience simply gave me a fresh appreciation for the power of the “ahh” effect!