Advertising My Stuttering
Posted July 1, 2011on:
I am actively involved in the two major stuttering self-help communities here in the US, the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and FRIENDS. I have tried to give back and help out both organizations over the last few years, as both have had a profound impact on my life.
Since I am basically a “starving artist” type, its hard for me to make financial contributions. But I can give my time and volunteer, which I have done for both organizations.
This year for the NSA, I reached out and advertised my stuttering to 10 local businesses. I asked them to purchase an ad in the program for the upcoming conference and sent them information. I only heard back from 3 of them. I don’t think any actually purchased an ad! But I advertised!
For FRIENDS, I decided to actively sell raffle tickets for a prize that will be drawn at the July conference by David Seidler, the Academy Award winning screenplay writer for the movie “The King’s Speech”. By last week, I had sold 522 tickets! The raffle coordinator sent me another 10 booklets I requested, and I took them with me on errands I ran over the weekend.
I had about 4 booklets of tickets left when I stopped in the local grocery store on a Saturday night. I decided to advertise my stuttering at the customer service desk and ask employees if they would be interested in supporting efforts to help kids who stutter.
A funny thing happened!
I used some voluntary stuttering, which quickly turned into real stuttering as I gave my pitch. Two managers and the clerk behind the counter all agreed to buy tickets. I was thrilled!
A woman standing next to me, who obviously heard this exchange, scrounged in her pocket and produced a dollar in change and asked to buy one ticket. She said she really couldn’t afford it, but wanted to help. I was touched. She also said that she knows people can be cruel and she hoped her tiny bit helped. I assured her it did!
Now here’s the funny, or strange, part. As I waited for the buyers to fill out their parts of the raffle tickets, I explained a little bit about FRIENDS. By now, I was just plain stuttering well.
After everybody finished, I collected the money, made sure everyone had their half of the tickets, and then thanked them. All three employees used the term “honey” with me. One said, “no problem, honey, good luck.” One manager who I see a lot also said, “sure honey, good luck” and the other manager also said, “have a good evening, honey, good job!”
Now, I achieved my goal of selling some tickets, raising money for FRIENDS and raising awareness of stuttering. And I definitely advertised my stuttering, even using a little bit of voluntary stuttering.
I felt discouraged when I left the store. I felt they had been condescending with me, almost like they felt sorry for me because I stutter and WAS stuttering. All three of these folks were younger than me, one in her twenties! I have never liked when a young person in retail or fast food has referred to me as “honey” or “sweetheart.”
But this seemed different. What do you think? Has this ever happened with you? Actually, have you ever advertised stuttering like this?