Ibby Piracha visits his local Starbucks in Leesburg, Virginia, at least three times per week. His order is usually the same, a caramel frappuccino.
Although a familiar face, Piracha types his order on his phone and then shows the cashier because he is deaf. Until one expected visit changed everything.
On Feb. 19, Piracha went to Starbucks to order his normal frappuccino. He was instead surprised to be greeted in sign language by barista Krystal Payne.
Payne first handed Piracha a note. After he read it, he looked up. “What do you want to drink?” she asked him in sign language.
“I’ve been learning ASL,” the note read, “just so you can have the same experience as everyone else.” Starbucks reported that Payne had been studying hours of YouTube videos, on her own, to expand her basic knowledge of American Sign Language and learn more phrases.
“I was quite impressed,” said Piracha. “I was very inspired that she was very motivated to learn sign on her own.”
“She became more motivated to learn sign because I was customer there and that has really, really touched me.”
Piracha was overwhelmed by her kindness, he shared a photo of the note and about the experience on Facebook. “The note made me happy. I felt happy that she learned to sign ASL to speak to me. I felt happy that she wrote the note.”
According to Piracha’s GoFundMe page, he was left with hearing loss after getting a high fever at the age of 2. The loss also made him practically mute.
By sharing the experience on Facebook, Piracha hopes for people to realize that, “…the hearing world and the [deaf world] are trying to communicate.” The post has currently been shared almost 6,000 times.
“My job is to make sure people have the experience they expect,” said Payne, “and that’s what I gave him.” An experience he’ll not soon forget.