Starting at a new company can be intimidating for a lot of reasons. Not only does the transition include learning the ins and outs of your new job, but also getting to know your coworkers.
Luke Sabin, a woodworker at Scherr’s Cabinets and Doors in North Dakota, was excited to start working in cabinetry. But soon after starting with the company, he noticed a man who kept to himself while working.
Sabin met Ricky Odden at his new job. Odden was deaf and had trouble communicating with his co-workers.
Despite being born deaf, Ricky Odden was never deterred from following his dream of woodworking.
Odden had worked with the company for over 14 years, but his inability to hear made it difficult to connect with his coworkers. They rarely spoke, and when they did, they relied on written notes to communicate.
“He was working in his own little world back there, and it was hard to watch,” Sabin told MyND Now.
Sabin didn’t like watching Odden work in isolation. He wanted to get to know him, even if it meant some effort on his part.
“He came to me and said, ‘Are you deaf?'” Odden told MyND Now via sign language.
Sabin asked Odden to teach him sign language.
“He said he wanted to learn some sign language and asked if I would teach him,” Odden said.
Before long, Sabin was able to communicate with Odden basically. Though he was still learning, the interaction meant a lot to his Odden.
“He seemed cold and distant but when I started learning sign language all of sudden he was like expressive and happy to talk,” Sabin said.
With Odden much cheerier and grateful for being able to converse with someone at work, the shop is a much more enjoyable place for him to spend his day.
Sabin’s desire to learn sign language meant a lot to Odden.
While Sabin has learned a new skill while getting to know the veteran cabinet maker, he’s found fulfillment in his friendship in other ways too.
“He’s an inspiration to me,” Sabin said, who has now been learning sign language for about two years.
For Odden, the opportunity to sign with someone at work was a welcome change to his everyday life. It’s also helped him in a practical way, as Sabin regularly helps facilitate communication between Odden and his boss and colleagues.
“I’m so happy I have someone who can interpret with me a little bit,” said Odden.