Monday, November 14, 2011

Spring Break From Hell!

Thanks to my eperience with Spring Break from Hell, I can't stand any type of strobes. Not even those used at parties or dances. Just triggers the preconditioned headache.

This happened in my second year at an university when I made the ill-fated decision to stay there over the spring break. I didn't budget carefully and when I made my decision, I had just $10 in my account.

After I blew my $10 on 10 days' worth of bread and soup, I returned to my dorm room and found a note stuck on the door. It read, "We will be testing the fire alarms over the next three days for testing and maintenance."

I thought nothing of that - I had gone through the nights when someone thought it was funny to pull a fire alarm at 3 am. I had no idea what was in store for me in sheer terms of misery.

First day, the fire alarms went off with the strobe lights flashing. I went to a friend's room and we thought it was enough to put a cup over the strobe. The flashing seemed to get brighter and brighter, to the point where it was annoying us. I got a plastic bag and stuffed it into the cup before putting it back on the strobe. Ah...but the victory was short-lived. The strobe light was determined to shine through 2 inches of plastic and it did.

It stopped after three hours. I had an headache. We thought it would be about the same length of time used to test the strobes for the next day. We were ready for the light. We got three cups stacked on top of each other with paper lining the inside, the bottom cup was stuffed extra-full of plastic bags, and the shield was taped tightly over the light to prevent any light escaping. The test commenced and we almost couldn't see the light at all. Suh-weet!

We started to notice the flashing from the stobe. The flashes were getting stronger and stronger...I checked the clock and saw it had been 3 hours already and it was still flashing. My headache was back. And flashing. 4 hours. And flashing. Headache was so strong that my eyes were hurting. AND flashing. AND FLASHING. AND FLASHING! AND FLASHING!!!!!!!!

We fled the dormitory for the mall. It was actually weird to see all floors of the dormitory flashing in random sequences as if there were gunfights all over. When the madness finally stopped an hour later, we returned to his room and we were shocked to discover that the bags in the shield had melted a bit from the heat of constant flashing.

Because of the heat and the intensity of the strobe, we decided to not cover the strobe up at all and we would leave the dorm before the testing started again on third day. It took them 9 hours to finish and I was thoroughly familar with the mall. Having lived on bread and soup for 10 days, the cafeteria food had never tasted better than the day after spring break ended.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's easy to overlook something when you're not disabled...

A prime example is this funny comic strip...

This actually happened to me once. I had a doctor's appointment in the morning; I preferred mornings because it was far easier to see the doctor in the morning than in the afternoon when the doctor has already fallen behind schedule.

After the appointment, I arrived at work and decided to park outside instead of the parking garage because I knew there wouldn't be any decent parking spot left. I went into the building through the front doors. What caught my attention was lack of people on the first floor - this area is where people come in to pay what they owe. Not a single soul...not even behind the counters.

I shrugged and went up to third floor. When I opened the door to third floor, there was nobody around. I started to freak a little...even thought that maybe I came in on a non-business day or even worse...I was in an alternate reality.

After looking around a little, I went into the bathroom. After finishing my business in there, I ran into my supervisor as he headed into the bathroom. He was relieved to see me. I asked where everyone had gone. He said that there was a fire evacuation drill and he was surprised that I could not hear the strident WHEE-oo WHEE-oo alarm.

I asked him how he knew I was here and he said someone had spotted me. He thought I had gone to my desk, but I wasn't there and he freaked out a little. I probably took a year or two off his life. Hmm.

This is WHY workplaces should be mandated to have strobe (flashing) fire alarms. Shortly after that incident, every floor was equipped with strobe fire alarms.

Oh boy, that reminds me of the spring break from Hell...which I will post shortly after this. ;)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Say What? "Grunges"

Me (after pointing at the branches in the trunk of my car): What should I do with all these sticks?

Wife: Where are they from?

Me (as wife bends down and away from me to pick up bags): From the backyard, when I cleaned up all the (indecipherable).

Wife: Grunges??? HUH?

Me *ennunciating*: Branches

Wife: Ohhh. I thought you said (fingerspells) G-R-U-N-G-E-S

I love having my own Say What moments at someone else's expense. ;)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Feeling a lot like Forrest Gump...

Lately, I have been feeling a lot like Forrest Gump. If you will recall in the movie, Forrest started running. And running. And running. He ran all the way to one side of America and turned around and ran to the other side of America before turning around again.

He gained a dedicated group of followers before he stopped running and simply went home.

The point?

I stopped writing back in late August...what you are seeing is a whole bunch of posts that were ready and waiting to be published. Occasionally, something would pop up and I would add a new post to the queque. Right now, there are only three posts left to go with two drafts.

I tried to keep up with the blog reads. I tried to respond to the comments left on my posts. I tried to keep with the chats. I started to fall off when school started and I began to tutor more than one student at a time when I was averaging one a day in previous semesters. Combined with the duties as a director for a center, my free time quickly disappeared.

When I am discharged from my duties as both the director and a tutor, I will start writing and visiting again. Right now...I have stopped running, and it's time to go home.

I really have loved writing as DCHY and I have appreciated every one of my followers who took time to leave comments, start chats with me, and/or leave e-mail in my inbox.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Say What? "What did you murder?"

Got this from a friend who had this funny encounter with her brother...which happened when her brother walked into the kitchen where she was.

Brother: What did you murder?
Her (stared at him for a long while, stammering): I...I don...I...I don't know what you are talking about!
Brother: you murdered something
Her: I did not!
Brother: Yes you did. What did you murder?
Her: I don't know. What the hell are you talking about? I didn't murder anything or anyone!
Brother: Oh! No, I said m-u-t-t-e-r (word fingerspelled to her). What did you mutter?
Her: Ohhhhhhhh! You scared me for a second!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Talking "tiny", mumbling, and/or unclear lipreading

No, this is not about little people who mumble at high speed. ;) This is about a certain kind of people who fall into the unfortunate category of "Impossible to Lipread".

Those who fall under the column heading tend to:

  • mumble

  • whisper

  • talk in low voice

  • wear very bushy mustaches

  • thick accents (usually foreign)

I have tricks to help me build "lipreading habits" with everyone. What I meant by that is once I figure out how a certain person would pronounce words, I can get into their habits and be able to lipread them more effectively. This does NOT mean I lipread flawlessly or understand better than 60% most of the time. I have yet to meet a deaf person who can lipread flawlessly, never mind that Sue Thomas, the deaf FBI agent.

I once knew a young guy who had this habit of "lisping" the f sounds with the th sounds, like saying "are you death?" instead of "are you deaf?" upon meeting me for the first time. Then about 10 years later, I had a manager who kept saying "bof" instead of "both", which I understood clearly because of my prior experience with that young guy. The weird thing was, I was told this is how some black people talk (which I didn't know at the time)...and this young guy is white.

The point being, people have their ways of saying words, accents or not. I lived in the South (have relatives who still does), in the Northeast (upstate New York), and the Midwest. The worst/impossible accent for me to comprehend? That would be Russian or Slavic accents, which totally kills my ability to lipread.

I've had to deal with new people each and every time I meet when they do not know how to sign. It's literally a pain in the butt when I have a new class and I have to build on the lipreading habits. The environment in a classroom is socially rigid - I can't just jump in and say, "Excuse me, I missed that...can you repeat?" over and over. The roll call is always the best way for me to begin my building process because I can pick out my own name as a teacher goes down the list of students...until I hit the wall in that teacher.

I was in my first year of community college and I initially thought I was in the wrong room for an English-related class (I believe it was Literature or some advanced writing) because I was only 18 and everyone else looked to be in their 20's or older. I sat down in the front row to give me the vantage point. An old woman shuffled into the room and she had the shakes from advanced age. When she spoke, her lips barely moved and she kept licking her lips to moisten them.

I sat there, blankly looking at her. Not one word was discernible. Then she pulled out the attendance sheet and...I knew that I wasn't in top half due to my last name and I stared hard at her mouth. Uehj owme? Lieg ahl? This went on like this and I kept staring for my name, knowing fully well that she would say my name again if I "missed" it and I'd get to jump in...

I understood NONE of anything, not even my own name. I waited until after the class to talk to her and I introduced myself. She said something I didn't understand. I talked with her some more, but I was going nowhere in terms of understanding her at all. I started to freak out and I said something about having to go and I left.

I sweated about going back. How was I going to get through the second day, let alone the whole semester?

Second day. I sat in the front row again. My heart was beating wildly. A different teacher came in and explained that she is the substitute teacher. She said the original teacher needed surgery and would not be coming back for the semester.

Wait a minute...I understood the substitute!

I breezed through the semester with her and I even signed up with her for another class the following semester. :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Say What? "Oh, it's just snot"

My wife and I were in the kitchen, having battered fish (quick, someone call the cops on me!) and she was stirring up some homemade tartar sauce*. She moved away from the sauce, I saw something fly from her face, and I felt that hit the knuckle of my big toe.

Wife: Where did that go?
Me: I felt something land on my toe (pointed at my foot)
Wife: Where?
Me: Right there, I see something on the ground (it looked like a drop of relish juice)
Wife (talking, not signing, as she bent down to investigate): Oh, it's just snot (she wiped it off with her finger)
Me: Snot? Gross!
Wife: No, haha...I said "ice" (fingerspelled)

* Homemade tartar sauce is surprisingly simple to make - you just need some mayonnaise and either relish or worchester sauce (or even both). Feel free to experiment to find your ideal mixture ratio, and don't hesitate to try spices and herbs.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Say What? "School basement"

My wife was complaining to me about how some people's sign language skills are abysmally bad. I was trying to explain to my wife about the level of signing in our area versus other cities due to certain deaf schools.

Me: You have to understand that the schools here place a huge emphasis on oral education...
Wife: Yes, I know that.
Me: Let me finish, okay? With the school environment like ours, I am not surprised that people who went to those schools have not progressed much at all despite having signed for a quarter of century or more.
Wife chewed this over with her face contorted into a puzzled look and said, "School basement? Huh?"

It was my turn to lose it because she has had her fun at my "Say What?" moments. I was almost in tears from laughter. ;)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Part 2 of "A new workplace = anxiety"

If you will recall, I talked about my experiences at the county government center 5 months ago (see posts #1 & #2 for more). I will discuss the other experiences that helped cement my unyielding intolerance for all forms of discrimination against deaf people.

When I worked for the 1st manager, she always got me an interpreter for meetings and seminars. She knew I had something that would greatly benefit the department and she made sure, through her actions, that I would want to contribute. When another deaf person was hired and struggled mightily to understand how to do her job, the manager went out of her way by hiring an interpreter to stay with the new worker for a full working week (the new worker had an interpreter for 2 days beforehand). The deaf worker ended up getting fired for playing with her pager too much while in training.

The first incident occurred when HJIC (see the hyperlinked posts) called a meeting without bothering to set up an interpreter to announce who he had hired as the 3rd manager (the Bitch). I had to rely on co-workers to tell me what was going on. The second incident happened just one month into the Bitch's tenure when she tried to minimize the need for an interpreter by telling me, "Oh the meeting is just 5 minutes...don't worry about it." We walked out of the meeting 20 minutes later and I understood not a thing. I lost my faith in the county government.

The county never hired another deaf person. Ever. I was hired in 2000 and the last one was hired in 2002. The last deaf worker, who was hired about 5 years before me, finally quit about 3 years ago when she figured out that nobody was going to promote her despite all the sacrifices she made for the county.

I was hired away from the county as an advocate and I was able to bring a lot to the table for the company that hired me. I became a heavy hitter for the deaf community and I made a lot of hearing people nervous. I toured around many police stations to give lectures on the rights of deaf citizens. When the deaf community learned of my tours, they were indignant because they have had personal experiences with the police which soured them on the cops. My response? "Call me when something happens to you and I'll help."

My first call was when I had to advise a deaf citizen to file discrimination against the police department (in my hometown, no less) when I found out that after arresting him for suspicious activity, they mocked his speech and denied him the right to an interpreter. I went to the police station and told them to stop patrolling his house or I would consider that to be a form of harassment since the client filed a claim of discrimination against them. The client let me know he missed the deadline to file, but the cops had kept their distance ever since and his life had gotten better.

My second call? I threatened a police station with legal action when they refused to let her wear the cuffs in front when I visited her in her cell. There was no way she could communicate with anyone, let alone me or an interpreter. She was arrested for a hit and run and they wouldn't get her an interpreter. I brought my own interpreter and after the cops finally agreed to comply with my demands with the deaf woman, they asked to interview her as a possible witness to a crime that occurred in her neighborhood. Naturally, she refused to cooperate with them after what happened to her in the cell.

After I left, I followed up on her the next day and I learned that the police had asked for a psych evaluation on her and I had to threaten them again when she was evaluated without an interpreter. The person I called was incredulous about the whole thing, even said to me "What does it matter to you if she had an interpreter or not?" I responded with, "Imagine if you were being held in a foreign country, you don't speak their language, and you weren't given an interpreter. How would you feel about that?" The person said incredibly, "We aren't in another country. I don't get the point." I hung up on her without saying another word since it became painfully clear to me that she wouldn't work with me and I promptly called the police commissioner. That call shook things up.

The point? If you think you are being discriminated against, SPEAK UP! Edmund Burke said it best, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Silence = consenting to or accepting what happens to you
Silence = not fighting for your most basic right
Silence = letting them do it YOU

Monday, September 12, 2011

A new workplace = anxiety for various reasons

Furry Bottoms' post about the struggles of being a deaf person in a hearing world inspired me to write a post about workplaces.

I am always anxious each and every time I start working at a new job. The first reason is communication and learning how. The "learning how" part refers to how everyone uses their mouths...some people will talk tiny while others will mumble. What I mean by "talk tiny" is little mouth movement which makes it hard for me to lipread. Oh boy, that reminds me of a story for another post and that will be published in the near future...I promise! :)

The second reason is discrimination. I have seen far too much and experienced way too many times to not allow any wiggle room on this matter. I will not entertain or accept any argument on what is pretty much the white elephant in the room for those who have never known firsthand what it is like to experience discrimination as a person with disability in a workplace.

Here we go...

My first negative experience happened on the first day of my first job. How's that for an auspicious beginning of my work career? My dad knew this guy who was the supervisor of bag boys at the commissionary and the supervisor's deaf son also worked there. For those of you who don't know what the commissionary is, it's basically a grocery store on the military base. The bag boys there did not work on a hourly basis - they worked for tips only. I had been stiffed few times and the smallest tip I ever got? A fricking dime. Jeez!

While on a break, I sat down to read a newspaper. One of the bag boys came over to me with an incredulous look on his face and said, "You can read that?" When I told him I could, he did not believe me and asked me for the newspaper. After giving it to him, he randomly pointed to an article elsewhere in the newspaper and asked me to read it out loud. I lasted only two months; when the supervisor told me if I left early again due to my illness, I should not bother to come I didn't. I didn't appreciate that despite coming in to work every day.

I worked in a warehouse for a company that primarily dealt with retail and rental stores for movies and music. You can imagine how vast the place is - it takes 10 minutes to walk from the front entrance to the back exit. The company was amazing in terms of working with my deafness. I first started as a warehouse worker who did whatever was asked of me. They realized the potential in me and promoted me to being in charge of a locked enclosure containing promotional items of high value. They paid for a phone signaller so I could hook it up to my TDD. Every time the phone signaller flashed, I would know the call was for me and that meant there was a special job for me - a customer was going to get the goodies. I never messed up an order because the TDD always printed out the conversations so I could easily refer back for accuracy. For those who don't know what a TDD is, it's a teletype device for the deaf which looks like this:

The shortest duration ever on any job was three days at Wal-Mart in 2009. Worst two days ever and I thought nothing could come close to what I experienced in my job at a government center. Wal-Mart came extremely CLOSE SECOND to that. I skipped the 4th day (Friday) by claiming that I was unable to find a babysitter for my girls. Then the weekend came and went and I called few minutes before I was supposed to start on my "5th day" (Monday) to say I wouldn't be able to work anymore due to babysitting issues. 1st day was nothing; I was paired up with a worker who had been there 10 years and he showed me everything I needed to do. We got along just fine. He asked me about me and why I was here.

Then...along came 2nd day...I was paired with a female worker who was slightly older than me, but alcohol had taken its toll on her - making her look to be in late 50s instead of mid 40s and I could smell it in her pores, as if she had taken a sip right before coming in to work. She acted like I was the stupidest guy she had ever known. She insisted on showing me how to take out a trash bag in the office area and how to replace it. She did not believe me when I told her I had already taken care of trash in the break room - she made me follow her to the supposedly full trash cans. Yeah...duh. When I was cleaning the bathrooms, she put up a sign on the door that said, "Closed for cleaning". I saw what she did and went back to cleaning. She came over to me and told me to go read the sign...I told her I had already read it. She became indignant and demanded that I tell her what the sign said while blocking my view. I repeated the sign verbatim and said, "I can read." Things were tense between us the rest of the time.

3rd day...oh boy...the worst was yet to come. I was supposed to work alone, but the alky must've complained about my attitude instead of telling the truth so I was paired with a young man. Everything seemed to be going well until it was time to clean the bathrooms and I discovered how ugly and petty people could get. In the ladies' room, he immediately sat down and started working on the sink pipes with a rag at a leisurely pace. I shrugged and cleaned the stalls and moved on to the men's room. 5 minutes later, a supervisor came in and sternly told me to clean the ladies' room. I tried to explain that I did while that guy cleaned the pipes, but the supervisor wouldn't listen. Fine. I re-mopped the floor. The guy came in and watched me mop. I left to clean the men's room.

Guess what? I got chewed out...because she said I didn't clean the toilets. Oh yes, I did the first time around. Fine. I got another bottle of bowl cleaning solution and used up the whole bottle in all 4 toilets. The supervisor watched me the whole time. Then she ordered me to clean the men's room and I got yet another bottle and she watched me while I cleaned everything all by myself. Yep, that young worker claimed he did the work while I goofed off. To punish me for that, the supervisor made me help workers re-stock the products. Haha...I actually enjoyed that part and the supervisor came to fetch me at the end, thinking I'd be wishing I was cleaning the bathrooms. Her shocked reaction upon seeing my face (I had enjoyed the re-stocking and was rocking at it) was priceless!

I guess I will write in depth about my job at the county government center at a later time (in two weeks) since this post was SO LONG. Sorry about that. Just sharing my experiences and you'll see why there is absolutely no wiggle room left by the time you finish the second part.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Say What? "Frozen seeds"

I was eating dinner with family and friends at their house when I noticed that the bread was cold.

Me: Has the bread been baked?
Friend: Yeah, but I can do it again for frozen seeds.
Me: Huh?
Friend looks at me, wife starts to smile as she looks on...
Me: Frozen seeds?
Friend: Wha..."Frozen seeds"? What are you talking about?
My wife says something to him
Friend: Oh! I said forty seconds. (Chuckles at me)

And I curse my brain's autocorrection... ;)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Explanation about the dialogue between Marlee Matlin and Lisa Lampanelli

I was asked by a deaf friend about the dialogue between Marlee Maitlin and Lisa Lampanelli during Donald Trump's roast on Comedy Central when Lisa jokingly asked Marlee if she could read Lisa's lips while in cameltoe mode.

Lisa: Ah, look at Marlee sitting up there like she's normal. Ay Marlee, you read lips, right? What's my camel toe saying? (Lisa thrusts her hips at Marlee's direction and bows her legs apart - Marlee plays along, gesturing at Lisa to spread her legs further apart)

My friend didn't understand what a camel's toe has to do with Lisa. I had to explain to her what a camel toe is. Boy, was she blushing big time after I explained to her what a camel toe is.

Interesting how someone, whose first language is not English, could struggle to understand the slang for "camel toe". It's not uncommon for a deaf person to not hear of words that have long since entered an average hearing person's consciousness. Hmm, maybe I should do a series on that...

To up your giggle factor...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Say What? "I'm making eye-talian"

I went into the kitchen to ask my wife what we are having for dinner. She was in motion as she spoke, moving sideways away from me...

"I'm making eye-talian."

Me: "Hmm? You just boiled eggs and you're making Italian? Why did you say Italian as eye-talian?"

Her (chuckles softly): "No, I am making egg salad. You're silly."

Monday, August 15, 2011

"You'll shoot your eye out!"

The title comes from an iconic line uttered over and over to Ralphie's dismay in his indefatigable quest to acquire a Red Ryder BB gun in "A Christmas Story". The image of Ralphie was featured in one of Jewels' posts (in her now-defunct blog) last July, in which she talked about a time when a BB gun was used to playfully terrorize other people. It brought out a memory that I had forgotten about until now.

I was about 22 at the time when this happened. A bunch of us (all deaf) decided to go camping while it was cold out and we wanted to rough it. We agreed that we would use tents, digging tools, camping utensils, lanterns, non-perishable food, and matches. I thought it would be fun to bring along my pump-action BB gun.

Talk about being young and stupid.

After setting up the tents and a communal fire pit, we all went off in different directions to gather up the wood for the fire pit. One of us found a huge trunk and we recognized it as the perfect bench for us to huddle around the fire. It took all 4 of us just to move it. We could not carry it, despite us being young and full of spunk. LOL

After we got settled in, a friend asked me if he could borrow my BB gun. I gave the approval after telling him to go into the forest, keeping the gun away from us. The rest of us gathered around the fire for companionship and warmth.

We chatted for a long while and once in a while, something from the fire pit would suddenly jump out at us. We thought it was strange how the fire kept showering us with sparks. We kept moving further and further back from the fire until we were keeping the coldness out with our backs while barely keeping the warmth in with our fronts.

As the sun started to sink into the horizon, I got up to stoke the fire some more and I noticed something strange on one of the logs. The log seemed to have a strange round yellow spot on it. The spot seemed familiar, so I looked closer and...

Huh? BB pellet? What was it doing on a log? I shared my discovery with my friends and they were at first puzzled by that. We examined the other logs and found more BB pellets imbedded in them. That's when I cracked the mystery.

Have you figured it out yet?





Our friend had climbed up a tree and shot a whole bunch of BB pellets into the fire. I chewed his ass out about that because we could have been seriously injured by a richocet or a flying spark. What if one of us got shot in the eye? He wasn't fazed by any of that, despite my anger and the rest of us jumping on him for his flagrant disregard for our health.

He was gone for over an hour and he said he had been shooting at the fire for about 20 minutes. He thought it was funny how we couldn't figure out why the fire kept shooting sparks at us. Made it easier for him to keep shooting since we were all deaf. He refused to apologize. What a jerk.

Never went camping with him again and I never brought my BB gun along again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Say What? "I need a mate"

When I went in to buy pool passes for the family, the woman in charge of processing was already familiar with me. She said what sounded like $118 and I said "Is that 118 or 180?" Triggered a flashback involving words that sound like "ate".

This was about 25 years ago, on a fishing trip while we were relaxing on a boat.

Friend (puts his hand out to me): I need a mate.
Me: What? What's wrong with me?
Friend: What?
Me: I am your mate, right?
Friend: Yes...what are you talking about?
Me: Why would you need a mate when I am right here?
Friend: What are you talking about?!?
Me: What was it you said to me?
Friend: Uh...when?
Me: Just now, when you said you need a mate. What, am I invisible?
Friend: Oh! No, you moron! I need a (enunciates carefully) BAIT.

I should've figured that out since we were on a freaking boat and he was holding his fishing pole... It's easy to confuse how a certain part of a word is pronounced, like "eighteen" or "eighty", let alone "mate" or "bait". ;)

Monday, August 1, 2011

I didn't get the job. Again.

Five weeks ago, I discovered through an old friend that a company was looking for someone with certain set of skills and experience which I happen to have. I applied and went in for two rounds of interviews. The vibe felt good all around. They were impressed with how easily I handled the "obstacles" they threw at me to confirm that I knew how to do the job.

I found out early last week that I didn't get the job I really wanted. It didn't matter that it was only part-time because I already had another part-time job and I would've easily tailored my day around both.

I tried to ask someone deep inside the company to check my resume to make sure I had no cause for concern in future interviews three weeks earlier, but got the "I didn't check, but I doubt it's the resume" brush-off.

I have connections and my network is huge. It didn't take long to learn who was hired instead of me and it was someone I have known since '98. My wife, upon discovery, angrily said something about the new hire not having any degree or experience. I told her the company probably had their reason for not hiring me. That didn't please my wife at all.

When she told a friend about what had happened, he responded with "Well, he is Donald Trump among his peers and the new hire? She is just commonfolk. That's why they got her cheap." Whether or not that was true, that made me feel good for a little while.

The point is why don't companies want the best possible candidates? When I started working for the black hole of a county government center in '00, it was seller's market for the people seeking jobs. Not anymore.

When I told a blogger friend by the name of Shelle BlokThoughts about who got hired instead and what a friend said about me, she told me "It's the economy. They will take someone who is average, okay enough that they can teach the rest of the skills to."

Sighs. At least Shelle was honest with me and with the help of her candor, I'm grounded in the reality now and ready to move on with my life. Let me end this post with a great quote...

"Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody." -by Henry Wadsworth.

Monday, July 25, 2011

ADSL's questions, pt 5

And finally...A Daft Scots Lass asks, "Whats your most challenging part of being a daddy?"

That's an excellent question! This allows me to answer in many layers, such as early days, crawlng/exploring, safety issues, maintaining discipline, sibling rivalry, etc.

The early days - I worried constantly about the girls not breathing anymore. Yeah, I was aware of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and I was afraid that I would not be able to know when they were having problems. I never forgot one night when my younger daughter (about 8 months old) was in bed with us, sandwiched in for her safety. While sleeping, I started to become aware of the rocking motion sensation. I woke up and I freaked out when I saw daughter's face was covered by our bed sheet and she was moving her head back and forth to try to breathe better. She was starting to suffocate and I woke up in time. I didn't sleep again that night.

Crawling/exploring/safety issues - I live in a two-story house, so the bane of my existence was the stairs. I've had near heart-attack moments from not being able to find them, only to discover they were UPSTAIRS. Incredible that they never had an accident on the stairs! Once they learned how to operate the doors, I had to post warning signs on the doors to remind the visitors to close and lock the doors behind them. I also worried that they inherited my intense nature of curiousity. Yes, I child-proofed the house, but... You know the saying, "Curiousity killed the cat"? Well, my girls are still alive. ;)

Maintaing discipline - this was made harder once the girls realized they could ask me for permission after being denied by their mother. How was I supposed to know she had said "No" already? I did try asking, "What did your mother say?" and they would lie, of course. Now, we tell each other what the decision was so they can't manipulate us...well, mostly me. ;) As for maintaining discipline, we make sure to be consistent and follow through with our warnings. They know we will warn them just once and second time will result in a time-out.

Sibling rivalry - I coined the term "Little Sibling Syndrome" after seeing a friend's youngest son constantly fight for his portions or rights or turns. I have noticed that he would go into the LSS mode even if he didn't have to fight for it at all. Since I don't want that in my younger daughter, I have repeatedly cautioned my older daughter about LSS. I have warned her that she must share things with her sister or include her in play...and guess what? Because my older daughter has exluded or refused to share with her sister, my younger daughter doesn't like to share out of fear that she will not get back whatever it was. Sighs.

Personality clashes - my older daughter is just like me, right down to the shape and look of the fingernails and how I walk. My younger daughter is just like her mother, willful and stubborn. Drives me CRAZY that I not only have to deal with the stubborn daughter, but the stubborn mother too. However, nothing frustrates me more than my "younger self"...she lets her fears spiral out of control. She's afraid of deep water/drowning and she has jumped into a spring (that is at least 30 feet deep) from a dock 10 feet high when I held her hand and jumped with her...and she has yet to jump from a 3 feet high diving our public pool populated by lifeguards...solo.

Anyone else got questions for me? I would be happy to answer them.

Monday, July 18, 2011

ADSL's questions, pt 4

"Whats your most favourite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?"

Usually, just relaxing and letting everyone be or watching football when in season. Nothing gets me going more than football. What I mean about letting everyone be, it's my day to let it all go and forget about the world.

Relax. Breathe. Focus on myself. Be re-centered. Feel calmer. Problems can wait.

My family understand and they actually like having a day to themselves as well. If the girls want to play with me, I will play with them. If I hide out in my bedroom and they come in anyway, they're welcome to stay in bed with me as long as they don't complain about what I am watching. :)

However, I went to Sign N Dine yesterday at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Just as relaxing because I got to chat with friends...and discuss what movies should be seen. I was very pleased to learn that I had converted someone to Coen Brothers' gangster masterpiece, "Miller's Crossing". Arguably, "Miller's Crossing" is the third greatest gangster flick after the first two Godfather movies.

Anyway, I digress. Sunday is the day I recharge and get ready to tackle the week anew. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

ADSL's questions, pt 3

"Is there such a thing as a singles bar for sign languagers? If so, have you ever been to one and whats it like? Is everyone signing all over the place?"

Cute questions, indeed. :) What we like to do in order to have our own version of a singles' bar is we take over a section of a bar and chat away. The en masse of flying hands can be intimidating to waitresses and bar patrons.

There are three reasons for having our own singles' bar: 1) for deaf people to socialize, 2) for interpreting students (they're called that because they are studying sign language in hopes of becoming an interpreter) to help enhance their signing/comprehension skills, and 3) looking to get lucky.

Yes, I have been to one - that's how my wife and I started dating. ;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

ADSL's questions, pt 2

"Whats the most interesting conversation you have ever evesdropped on? Knowing that you lip read and not everyone being aware of it, have you ever come across and interesting situation that made you surprised or made you laugh? I'm sure you have some interesting stories to tell."

My lipreading skill is at best 50%. Depends greatly on how a person talks. It's more about being there at the right time.

The biggest surprise I had? When I was at a restaurant, I was seated facing a man across a glass partition and he was telling his buddies about his court case. He was facing charges of molesting his kids and he told his buddies he felt confident about beating the charges because he thought his own kids wouldn't testify against him. Imagine the looks of his buddies' faces when he said that...

The saddest? Watching a college student whine to her friends that, after getting a ticket from her parents to fly back home for Christmas, they wouldn't buy her another ticket for her to go see a friend of hers. She said something along the lines of "My parents bought me a ticket, why couldn't they buy me another? I want to see my friend. It's not fair!" Whine, whine, whine.

The funniest? I happened to look at a co-worker's direction just as she looked in my direction to make sure I wasn't "eavesdropping". She was 5 cubicles away (the low type where you can see others from a sitting position). I cocked my eyebrow and she immediately turned red and turned around to hide her embarassment. Other co-workers, who were talking with her, cracked up at her actions when they realized what had happened. What made it so funny? I didn't even catch a single word and one of the co-workers told me later on that the woman was talking about a guy who rocked her world in the bed last night. She was spilling all the juicy details and she THOUGHT that I "listened" in on her whole story. LOL

Monday, June 27, 2011

ADSL's questions, pt 1

A Daft Scots Lass left a comment in one of my posts last week, asking the following questions:

"Whats the most interesting conversation you have ever evesdropped on? Knowing that you lip read and not everyone being aware of it, have you ever come across and interesting situation that made you surprised or made you laugh? I'm sure you have some interesting stories to tell."

"Is there such a thing as a singles bar for sign languagers? If so, have you ever been to one and whats it like? Is everyone signing all over the place?"

"Do you prefer to sign with a fellow deaf person or do you prefer to lip read?"

"Whats your most favourite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?"

"Whats your most challenging part of being a daddy?"


Since ADSL's first two questions contain sub-questions, I'll answer them in "ADSL's questions, pt 2" (and pt 3) later on in the immediate future, I will answer question #3 which is "Do you prefer to sign with a fellow deaf person or do you prefer to lip read?"

Having attended my deaf school's reunion Saturday night, I got to experience both (signing with deaf people and lipreading each other) at once in one sitting. My deaf school emphasized strongly on oral education - signing was forbidden in the classrooms. We had to learn how to lipread the teachers. When we were done with our deaf school, we were ready for the world without ever acquiring any signing skill.

I had not seen some of my classmates for 30 years and it was rather disconcerting to me when I talked with some of them and seeing their eyes go blank when I tried to use sign language to help with the communication. One classmate was barely able to comprehend fingerspelling...and nothing else other than a sign here and there. Two of my classmates started conversing with each other, without any signing - just lipreading and gesturing.

I got bored with them after few minutes and I sought out others who could sign. I know it sounded if I was being a jerk or selfish. They were talking about NASCAR and driving/racing tactics. I have nothing against that, just not my cup of tea. I simply used that as my excuse to leave.

So it's obvious that I'd rather sign with a fellow deaf person than to lipread. Out of the 21 students in my graduating class, 14 attended the reunion (including me). Maybe half of that are at least competent in sign language communication. 30 years since graduation and only one could communicate with me in sign language fluently.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Say What? "Land of evil"

Yesterday, my wife and I went to a local mall to track down an ATM that's serviced by our bank.

Me: I thought it was right here (upon entering the mall and not seeing the ATM where I thought it would be), but maybe it is up there to the right (pointing to the escalators). I think.

Wife: I think it's land of evil.

Me: Huh? Say that again.

Wife: Land of evil

Me: Land of...oh, lower level! I thought you said "land of evil".

Wife: Haha, all ATMs should be in the land of evil! (laughs)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Story series - the only time I ever wet my pants at school

When Gillian from "A Daft Scots Lass" talked about what happened with her daughter at school (see the post about that), it triggered a memory in me.

This happened in my first year in a school where everyone was hearing. I went to a deaf school so a new school, filled with strangers who had little or no experience in dealing with a deaf person, was intimidating for me.

I had this teacher who would do double duty as a math teacher and a P.E. teacher. He and his wife, who also worked as a P.E. teacher, were extremely tough to deal with; even for a hearing student. How tough was he? I walked under a volleyball net to get to my assigned spot for the roll call and I was promptly punished with 5 laps around the gym for that infraction. Didn't matter to him that I was new to the school, let alone know I wasn't supposed to go under that.

While in his math class, I felt the need to go to the bathroom and I looked at the clock. Over half an hour left to go. Groans. I tried to hold it in until the class was over...when it was 20 minutes left to go, the wait was too much for me. I got up and walked over to his desk.

I remember seeing a student look at me wide-eyed as I walked by, as if he was questioning my action. I didn't think much of that. When I got to his desk, I waited for him to look at me. He looked at me in a manner that said, "What? You're bothering me!". I politely asked for permission to go to the bathroom.

He looked at the clock on the wall, back at me, at the watch on his wrist, back at me, and said, "Can you wait another twenty minutes? GOOD!" He looked down right away which told me that he didn't want to let me respond.

Suddenly, the room seemed hot and small. I knew everyone was looking at me. I turned around and locked my eyes on my desk, daring not to look at anyone. I sat down and locked my eyes on the teacher. I waited...and waited...I started to squirm more and more with the bladder threatening to burst.

Then, it happened. I could not hold it in anymore, no matter how hard I tried. I panicked a bit, worrying that the students could hear me peeing in my pants or smell that. Felt like I was going to pee for a long time. Finally, I stopped. I moved my butt up and down the chair to try to sop up the pee.

I sat there in silence, waiting for the bell to ring. When it finally rang, I pretended to have trouble getting my stuff together so I would be the last student to leave. The classroom was just 30 yards away from the principal's office, but it may as well be a mile because the students had filled the hallway and I knew that anyone could see that I had peed in my pants.

I breathed in deeply and lowered my head and walked out into the long walk to salvation. Simply told the secretary that I wet my pants. She called my mother. My mom came with pants and underwear. She tried to ask me what happened and I told her I didn't want to talk about it now.

After I finished the day and went home, I told my mother what happened and she blew her top. I learned years later that she threatened to sue the school...and that would have been for the 2nd time - the first time was when they put me in a different class and tried to play that off as "for academic reasons". About that 1st time, I'll save for another post.

The point was, I thought this was the norm for what had happened. I knew so little about the hearing culture. I didn't even know you weren't supposed to walk between two people conversing with each other without saying "excuse me". It was a major transition for me.

Monday, June 6, 2011

That's Life!

You know how, as a parent, things get screwed up schedule-wise in terms of getting everyone ready for school and work? Today was one of those days.

The girls had taken way too long to "get going" - eating, showering, and dressing. In my haste to help speed things up, I wasn't paying ENOUGH attention.

I grabbed some socks, panties, a T-shirt, and some overalls with Harry Potter's Hedwig on it for my younger daughter. Dropped them in front of her and said, "Get dressed now." I left to tend to my older daughter in the kitchen.

Three minutes later, she came into the kitchen and totally surprised me with how she handled my request. Here is what I saw.

The legs were way too long fer her and she improvised. All on her own.

Made my day. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Poll results

That's the result of a poll I put to the visitors. Interestingly, nobody went for the final option because I considered that to be open-ended and allowed others to express their opinion that wasn't listed. Also, it was interesting to me that so few of you (2) were interested in my experiences as being a deaf person with Story Series/Anything funny (3 each) and Memories (4) close behind.

I will keep varying the nature and topic of my posts (yes, I will still post "Say What?" on a recurring basis). Thank you very much for taking your time to answer my poll...I appreciate that! My curiousity has been sated, for now. ;)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Say what? "Shut your vote"

While watching a movie in some darkness, a friend leaned over and mouthed "Shut your vote."

I signed, "What?"

Friend (enunciating more): ""

I thought this over, trying to make sense of that...I signed "Shut?" with a quizzical look on my face.

Friend: "No, check your vote."

Me (signing): "Check"

Friend cracked up and said, "Check your phone."

Geez, YOU try lipreading in the darkness! LOL

Monday, May 23, 2011

Story series - how we stayed together

Driving tactics as a deaf driver traveling with other deaf drivers in the pre-pager days are unique. Even in the age of smartphones, deaf drivers like me still use the same unusual tactics.

Hearing drivers could easily work out the agreed-upon horn signal (beep, beeeeeep, beep-beep is my horn signal LOL) and you'd know it's that person when that person uses the correct horn response.

In the old days during daytime, deaf drivers kept track of each other through herding, visual, and memory tricks. The herding tactic is self-explanatory...we stayed together as best whenever we could. The visual part is easy because we simply looked for cars that were of specific make & model. The memory part? License plates and any distinguishing mark on the car - dents and peeling paint stand out more in our minds than leaves or anything nature-made.

Now, what about nighttime? Forget about all of the tactics as described above. You can't see ANYTHING past the headlights, even in the mirror or when you eyeball the driver while the headlights are in your eyes despite what the movies show you. I always chuckle when a driver in the movie is able to make out who the driver is while that driver is behind the first driver. I have never ever been able to see anything beyond the headlights. Can't see the driver even if the interior lights were on.

I thought of using this standard feature found in cars as a way of saying "Yes, that's me behind/in front of you". I was proud of coming up with that until others said, "we have been using that too." ;) The standard feature is something you would never think of using because you normally use that for emergency situations.

Yes, the hazard lights.

It's an excellent way to "communicate" and it is far less intrusive than flashing high beams at other drivers. Flashing high beams can confuse other drivers who aren't your intended targets anyway. Plus, there is no way you can signal a driver behind you. Hence, the hazard lights.

Because it's easy to lose each other in the cacophony of headlights at nighttime, we need a way of confirming each other. So, when you see someone randomly use hazard lights and you see someone else respond...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Say What? "Vanilla butter"

Friend: "Are you vanilla butter now?"

Me: "Huh? Am I vanilla butter?"

Friend (after needing several long moments to regain composure): "No, what I said was 'Are you feeling better now?'"

Talk about feeling sheepish! ;)

The Say What? series was revived when someone anonymously sent me a Formspring question last week Tuesday, asking me to bring it back to help ease the withdrawals. I know who that would be. ;)

Monday, May 2, 2011

What do you get when you breed a whore with someone who's hyper-attentive?

The answer? An attention whore. ;) Yes, I was inspired to use the word "whore" in a post by Absolutely Narcissism. LOL

What's going on? I wanted to draw your attention to the left side of my's a poll asking you to voice your opinion on how I should guide my blog. Yes, I am an attention whore. LOL

The reason I am asking is I have noticed how the traffic really varies based on the nature of my posts. I know it's not the direct result from my rounds on other bloggers.

I started this blog at a blogger's urging (thank you, Shelle from BlokThoughts) because she was very curious about me, about how I would handle things, and about what my experiences were like when I was growing up.

I used to blog weekly on MySpace years ago, but it was more of using what was going on around the world and my life as my source of blogging. Got tired of MySpace's limiting design and switched to Facebook. Didn't like the blogging format on Facebook, so I stopped blogging altogether.

Almost three years ago, a friend nervously encouraged me to try out Blogger (she had a naughty blog and was worried about what I'd think of her - I totally supported her and I had no problem with that). I explored many different aspects of myself, but I never touched on my identity as a deaf person or as a deaf parent in Blogger. Then about a year and half later, I found Shelle and the rest is history.

I am ALWAYS interested in your opinions and I have enjoyed getting e-mail from you. Don't stop expressing yourself to me, either publicly or privately.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Being a bachelor definitely helped me prepare for fatherhood

Last Wednesday, my wife went on a trip to the capital city for a rally.

6:04 am - my wife shakes me awake

6:06 - after blinking the last remnants of sleep away, I get up and go to the bathroom.

6:19 - after making my rounds of e-mail, text messages, IMs, & games on my iPhone and getting dressed, I go downstairs and I see that my wife is already gone. I sit with the girls while they watch Disney/Nick.

7:05 - I ask the girls what they want for breakfast. They both said cereal.

7:07 - after washing two bowls and filling them with their cereal, I realize that there's not enough milk to do one bowl. My wife forgot to tell me that we needed milk. I use soymilk on their cereals instead (they like soymilk anyway).

7:07 - they are served and I contemplate washing a bowl so I could have a cereal too. I decide to wait and use one of their bowl. Just didn't feel like washing another. ;)

7:21 - the older daughter is done and the younger chimes in with "I done!" so I ask the older if she wants the remains of her sister's cereal. She nods with wide eyes. I take her bowl and return to the kitchen.

7:22 - after rinsing off the bowl, I fill it with my cereal. I pour in my milk...and it wasn't even close to being adequate. I remember seeing a small carton of chocolate milk in the fridge. Why not? I pour that into the center and the pre-existing milk doesn't turn color at the visible edge.

7:23 - I always start at the edge of my cereal and work my way in...the constant digging into my cereal has made the milk look more brownish-dusty. No real flavor of chocolate yet.

7:24 - I finally reach the chocolate-y part of the cereal and it's quite interesting to experience. Not bad at all. Just more..."fun" eat.

7:45 - I brush my teeth and shepherd the girls off to their schools.

8:56 - I'm still tasting the chocolate milk...the cereal taste is long forgotten. Made me smile.

See? Now that I am a family man, drawing on my bachelor days helped me cope with the shortages creatively. ;)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

If you thought job hunting was hard, try being a deaf person! (pt 2)

The 3rd manager? She was HJIC's secretary before she got the job. That surprised everyone because she had never been anything more than a secretary in any job anywhere. Everyone *knew* how she got the job. I stayed quiet because she had been nice to me when she was the secretary and I had helped her with some stuff in the past. None of that mattered because she got very mean to me and did everything she could to get me to quit.

Once I had to go to the bathroom badly (and I do mean BADLY) and when I finally came out, the Bitch (HJIC's former secretary) caught me on my way to the desk and she claimed that I was gone for 30 minutes. "Impossible," I said, "since I lose the feeling in my legs after 20 minutes." The Bitch then let me go and called a supervisor (not mine) over and while standing just 6 feet away from my desk, in the center of the department...they started discussing openly for anyone to hear...about my bathroom habits. I found out about that later and I was told they were overheard in saying, "How can he sit in that office chair for hours on end and not lose any feeling in his legs?" among other things. EXCUSE ME?!?

I was so mad and embarrassed by that. I was given an opportunity to retaliate when I had to write my argument for why I deserved a raise during my annual job review. I had done the job consistently with high remarks year in, year out. So, I wrote up a nasty review on the Bitch and I basically outed her as being HJIC's companion during business trips that had nothing to do with her job duties.

I was called into HR and I met with two ladies - one of them was the same woman who was impressed with me at the job interview. They asked me subtly why I wrote the letter and I said, "You know why she got the job." They giggled at that and I instantly knew why they laughed. Everyone's suspicion about how the Bitch got her job was correct. They thanked me for my time and I thought that was that.

The firestorm that resulted from the review (in which I got "bad reviews" and received a tiny raise of 1.5% instead of the usual 3%) motivated me to look into taking jobs within the government center so I could get away from that. The same woman, who was impressed with me at the job interview and working in HR at the time (and still was), let me know about a job opening. She knew I had all the qualifications and I immediately applied. Few days later, HJIC called me into the office and basically patted me on the head about the job and shoved me out the door. What did he say? Something along the lines of "This job is not for you, but thank you for your interest. You may go now." I was boiling mad after that.

When HJIC ordered a security door installed which became a major inconvenience for everyone because we all had to use our ID to get in each and every time, I observed something about HJIC and the security door. He had grown weary of that and started using the "back door" tactic by going through a conference room instead of dealing with the security door. I retaliated against HJIC by locking the door opening into the hall from the conference room, effectively locking him out and forcing him to go through the security door because HJIC's new secretary had hearing issues and couldn't hear him knocking on the door. If he forgot his ID, he would have to ask someone to let him in. Soon, he was checking the door to make sure it wasn't locked before leaving...I'd wait a while and...lock the door. He never caught on as to who was locking him out, let alone catch me in the act. ;)

The screaming supervisor finally retired 1.5 years after the 1st manager had retired. The Bitch had since moved on to an easier job where she didn't have to deal with HJIC as much (and me since I was starting to catch onto how the management style worked and started using them against her effectively), she didn't have to work as hard at her new job. The 4th manager, for whom I had warm regards for because she was my supervisor during my first month there before I was promoted, was a horse of a different color. Literally.

I applied for the supervisor's job since I was the only one who knew how to do the job, inside and out. The Horse refused to interview me and put someone else in the seat who had ZERO experience instead. I was initially bothered by that, but I figured that maybe I didn't meet the qualification of being 4 years on the job. The new supervisor was devoutly Christian and he struggled mightily to reconcile what was going on - being told by the Horse and HJIC to do things that weren't helpful to me career-wise and he tried to buffer that by taking some of the heat himself. How did I know that? He told me. He couldn't handle it anymore after a year and became an appraiser.

I applied again for the seat and the Horse again refused to interview me and picked a guy who had been working for 3.5 years instead. I screamed "discrimination" and threatened go to HR and HJIC cut me off by saying the county government had this obscure rule about the so-called "short list rule" where if there were less than 5 people applying for the same job, the manager had the discretion of bypassing the interview process and picking someone. He even claimed that the guy had been here for 4 years and met the qualification. I e-mailed HR anyway and they confirmed the rule and HJIC went after me for that. I just sat there and pretended to listen while HJIC angrily spoke to me. He finally stopped talking and left.

I tried to reason with the Horse to no avail and I ended up saying, "So you want me to train (the Golden Boy) just like I did with (the Christian)?" The Horse actually said, "You didn't train (the Christian)." "Oh, really? How did (the Christian) learn how to do his job then?" She shrugged at that. I said, "Fine. Good luck with (the Golden Boy)." and walked out of her office without giving her a chance to respond.

I refused to help the Golden Boy learn how to do "his" job and he started to fall further and further behind on his job. He even started coming into work and start working 30 minutes before his shift would start and staying 30 minutes after his shift ended just to try to keep up. The Horse KNEW why he was failing miserably and she was being stubborn about it. The Golden Boy finally quit after 11 months. I applied again and guess what? No interview. Picked a woman who had zero experience and had been with the county just 4 years. 4 years and 2 months to be exact.

A co-worker approached me at my desk with my new supervisor right beside her and asked me if I would help my new supervisor because the Horse didn't know how to help. I said, "You already know that I can't help." The new supervisor nodded and went to her desk...and did something unexpected. She e-mailed me and told me she learned from the same co-worker about everything and all the crap I had endured. All this in a very understanding manner and she ended the e-mail with "I will understand if you still do not want to help me learn. I wouldn't help me either if I had to go through all of that too."

The same co-worker, who told the new supervisor everything, shortly after found herself in a very messy situation and started telling the Horse everything in hopes of extracting herself out of that. The new supervisor pulled me aside and let me know the co-worker was basically selling me (and others) out. I was hurt by that because the co-worker was my "work wife" and we had shared things with each other closely and intimately. I thanked her and I promptly fed the co-worker disinformation. When the Horse realized the pipeline into the drones' mentality had been compromised, she cut the co-worker off and refused to help her out of the messy situation. I refused to do anything for the co-worker as well. That almost destroyed the co-worker.

I ended up being friends with the new supervisor and the co-worker finally mended the fence with everyone at work (except the Horse). Not long after that, I got my dream job. I loved it and I flew so high at my new job that I soared. I had found my paradise.

Monday, April 18, 2011

If you thought job hunting was hard, try being a deaf person! (pt 1)

Editor's note: I apologize! I had planned on finishing the post yesterday but I was asked at last minute to open the center for a meeting and I just forgot. Also...since the post itself is so long, I had to break it into two parts. Sorry!

Other than communication issues (lipreading and/or speech comprehension), I'd like to share with you how easy it is for a smart, well-educated, and deaf man like me to find jobs.

I graduated from an university with Bachelor's degree in communications. The program I majored in is considered to be more advanced than most programs in other universities - you have to do a thesis and pass it in order to graduate. That doesn't happen until you get to Master's.

With a newly minted degree in hand, I went to job fairs for 2 years. Never missed one. Never got a call or a nibble from anyone at the job fairs. Just postcards/letters with the usual "We have your resume on file and we will contact you" bullshit. That practice has now been discontinued with so disgruntled applicants suing companies for whatever reasons. In fact, I haven't seen anything like this in almost 7 years now.

At one of the job fairs, I handed my resume to a woman at a booth for a local newspaper. She looked over it and seemed okay with it until she spoke to me. When she realized that I am deaf, she said "You do know that we use telephones at work? How could you handle that?" I explained to her that people could call a TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) operator and then they could talk to me as if the operator isn't there. She was shocked by that and I walked away with disgust and contempt clearly written on my face for her. I stopped going to job fairs after that.

About 3 years after graduation, someone at an advocacy company leaked to me about a job opening at a local county government center. I ran over to there and my typing skills impressed the woman who was doing the interviews. She was reluctant to hire me because I was so overqualified. I told her that I was willing to start on the bottom and if I have the skills to move up, surely I would be moved up. That did it for her - she hired me on the spot and I started working the following week.

The day after I started, the manager caught me in a hall that wasn't close to where I was and pulled me aside. She said, "What are you doing here?" and I *knew* exactly what she meant by that...she wasn't asking me why I was out there. I explained about doing the job fairs for 2 years without any result and how I had just gotten married (got married in 2000, almost one month before I started working), and I was desperate for anything. She pondered that for a second and said, "Thank you for your honesty." One month later, she put me at a desk that was in charge of records and I never left that desk for 6 years despite all kinds of discrimination I endured.

I can hear you go, "What kind of discrimination did you face?" Truth be told, the manager, who put me in that desk, never discriminated against me and refused to allow any sort of that to happen. She had 100% faith in my ability to do the job despite having to work with a supervisor who was so universally disliked by all that nobody wanted to work with her...let alone be willingly promoted to that desk.

Naturally, the supervisor got very angry with me during the first week at that desk. The manager was genuinely surprised by how calmly I took the supervisor's rants in stride. I didn't mind the supervisor so much. What got worse was when the manager abruptly retired (she refused to tell me why but it became obvious after...) and the HJIC (Head Jerk In Charge) put in a young woman who used the "rah-rah" style of management. That's exactly when everything went to hell.

The supervisor got even worse with me after the 1st manager have told me they heard her scream at me, even when I was just a desk away. She would scream my name as I walked away to get something (per her request or job request). She hated how I would get up and go, even when I didn't stop to talk with others. Once she came down hard on me for a simple error of omission and that burned me. Guess what? She made a similar mistake the same day and I told her so. She promptly reported me to the Cheerleader. (Eye roll)

When my wife and I were expecting our first baby, the Cheerleader came to me and encouraged me to change from the old PTO (Personal Time Off) system to the new one "because it's easier for you to build up your vac time versus splitting up the sick time and the vac time...and you'd have to re-accrue the vac time all over again if you used them up." Sounded like a good idea, so I signed the paper.

After my daughter was born, I discovered that I lost all the sick time and the new PTO system caps the hours at 360 (the old system had no cap on sick time and the new one doesn't allow sick time). I spoke with the Cheerleader about that and she said I agreed to use up all the hours before the maternity leave time kicks in. That wasn't in the agreement I signed. Her response? "Oh, that was covered in the policy book." Bleep. You're probably thinking, "What about the maternity leave that was supposed to be guaranteed by law?" The paper I signed stated that I agreed to that. I hated her after that and she quit after being on the job for 6 months.

(Part two to be continued tomorrow)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lightning rod for controversy

Last week, I posted about how outdated some concepts are in terms of creating a resume. While writing up that post, I had an "Eureka!" moment and decided to create another post about job hunting.

On February 4th, ABC News did a segment that flew under the radar for most of the hearing viewers unassociated with the deaf/hard of hearing community. Why? Two reasons: ABC News has been doing the "What would you do?" segments for a while and the shock value has worn off...and the other? That segment really didn't apply to them.

Please click on this link for ABC New's show, explaining in text what you are about to see.

Then click on the link for behind the scenes on YouTube, showing you how that particular segment is set up before the taping and the airing.

Link for the lightning rod on the segment itself, watch all the way to about 5 minute mark. Better captioning of the same show can be found here

I will post next week about my experiences in job hunts. I noticed that not a single person offered the two young women any job. I also asked at the end of last week's post if anyone would hire me...

Monday, April 4, 2011

10 Resume Rules: Fact or Fiction?

Not long ago, I went to see a Department of Rehabilation Services (DORS) counselor about going back to school and get my Master's, possibly even PhD. She said, "Why?" DORS/VR (Vocational Rehabilitation in most states) help deaf people like me with the schools financially. I graduated several years ago with a Bachelor's degree.

I explained that the economy has tanked and it is the "seller's market" in terms of employment (meaning there are more people looking for jobs than there are empty offices, hence low demand for hiring). I felt that by getting my Master's, I'd look more attractive to potential employers. She asked me to bring my resume in. I asked, "Why?"

She was caught off-guard by that and after regaining her composure, she explained that she wanted to see what kind of job history I have and how attractive I am to employers. I pulled out my flashdrive and told her to print out my resume, again catching her off-guard.

After printing out my resume, she immediately broke 6 of the 10 resume rules.

  1. Your resume should not have to fit into one page

  2. Always use a cover letter

  3. Your resume doesn't need an objective

  4. Gaps in your employment history will not cost you

  5. Any embellishment on your resume, even a tiny one, is not okay

  6. Organize your resume in reverse chronological order

  7. Put educational background at the bottom

  8. Your resume does not need references

  9. Use buzzwords

  10. You do not need to print your resume out on fancy paper

(This was taken from Jeanine Skowronski's article on Yahoo! Finance - go to the link for full explanation)

What rules were broken? The counselor thought I had to fit three pages of my work history into one page, she felt I should put in an objective, she wanted me to throw out gaps of work history, she wanted to change one of my job titles to make it sound "better", she told me I need to put in references (how with 3 pages crammed into one?), and she suggested that I put the resume on fancy paper.

I tried to tell her that the one page resume was a thing of the past and she refused to believe me. Fine. I told her that I cannot change the job title - "What if a prospective employer calls and finds out I embellished a little?" and she was sure that wouldn't be a problem.

I decided that was enough of that and I tried again to discuss the school plan with her, but she kept hemming and hawing on getting involved. I tried to nail her down, but she wouldn't give me a definite answer. That told me she wasn't enthusiastic about helping me financially.

So, here I am...four page-long (just included the director of a center) resume, resume on & (always getting calls from companies that need warm bodies to telemarket - no thanks!), working part-time as a tutor, working without pay as a director for a center, getting ready to start playing softball as player/manager, and doing my parental duties. Anyone want to hire a deaf person? :)

Speaking of which...I'll post next week about something that was on TV last February which became a lightning rod for controversy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Q & A #18

This is the most interesting question I've ever gotten. So far. Editor's note: I meant to publish this on Monday the 28th. C'est la vie!

Q: What is your favorite cartoon character?

A: Right now? SpongeBob SquarePants. Never can get enough of Patrick's antics. Always amuses me to no end that SpongeBob turns to Patrick for help/answers.

I used to follow Avatar: The Last Airbender until it concluded. Surprisingly deep story arcs in there. Yes, I was disappointed in the live action many things were thrown out and the movie felt rushed or the dialogue seemed out of place.

Iroh is played by a thin actor? Please, someone get Sammo Hung or a fat actor trained in martial arts. Cliff Curtis as the Fire Lord? He didn't look imposing at all. The actor playing General Zhao didn't look like he had watched the series at all. Not menancing at all or even...clever.

When I was a kid, I loved to wake up and catch my Saturday cartoons. Never got enough of Tom & Jerry or The Looney Tunes. Even Popeye was entertaining. As I went through the 80's, I'd run home to watch Thundercats or Voltron (I got confused when it was suddenly "different" and lost interest, not knowing it was in a different universe).

When I went away to college, I lived for Reboot and Batman. Stopped watching Batman when he sported a triangular torso frame.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Update on my life's new direction

Editor's note: Whoops! Forgot to set this to publish this at midnight. I was wondering why I wasn't getting my comments. ;)

Boy, talk about being caught off-guard...I got to a major event a bit early to help set up a booth so we could showcase the community center and how it can help the deaf community. The problem was I had not thought of trying out the display stand prior to that event, let alone know how to put one up.

The woman who brought it was stumped as well. She had not put one up before and had no experience. She shoved the manual into my hand so I knew I had to decipher it and have the display up in minutes. The manual did not use words, just pictures. No problem...except the layout of the pictures was confusing. LOL

I had to re-read the manual before I figured out the order of the layout and then I got it fully assembled in 5 seconds. What I didn't count on was the sheer size of the display. It was HUGE! It took up 90% of the booth table (you know, the standard plastic buffet-style table which is about 5 feet long). The display stand was 4.5' by 4.5' and there was no way we could sit behind the table - we would be completely obscured by the display. That meant we had to stand in front of the booth the whole time.


Why? Because there were 6 hours of booth time scheduled and only three people volunteered for 3 shifts (1 shift = 1 hour) total. Others didn't bother to reply or had excuses. That meant I was responsible for minimum of 3 hours and that turned into 5 hours total because of the sheer number of people who wanted to know more about the center.

I was able to convince a whole bunch of people to sign up for the announcements of open-captioned theater movies. Let me explain about the OC movies...the movies are shown in a normal way with one exception - the words are either shown ON the screen (one theater does this) or on the special smoked glass on flexible necks to reflect the words (3 other theaters do this).

The special smoked glass style is called Rear Window Captioning and how the system uses those refractors (as they're called). There is a LED display case near the projector window that shows the words backwards and is shown in correct order on the refractors. The system looks like this...

(The words say "Welcome to Rear Window. Please adjust your reflectors.")

Yesterday, the board president sent an e-mail to the board and the center's management team congratulating those who were at the booth. He even said people had nothing but praise for me. They liked how visible I was at the booth and how willing I was to talk with everyone instead of handing them off to someone else at the booth. Hey, that's my job - I have to be there for everyone. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Q & A #17

Gillian from A Daft Scots Lass asked me this question in my Q & A #16 post - "Were you born deaf?"

No, I was not born deaf. I was a normal healthy boy with a massive shock of blonde hair on the head.

When I was 13 months old, I contracted a case of spinal meningitis and that put me in a coma for about two weeks. During that time, the high fevers destroyed some of the hair in the inner ears which made me deaf.

When I finally woke up, my mother was the first to notice that I wasn't responding to audio stimuli and the tests confirmed her suspicion. My deafness was measured at around 96 decibels. To give you an idea how loud something has to be for me to hear it, a lawnmower is around 110 decibels.

Funny thing is, I do not hear the lawnmowers...even when I operate one. My theory is my body picks up the vibrations first, negating the need for my ears to "ring" with the noises. The only effective way for my ears to pick anything up is if you do a high pitch scream into my ear or create a loud noise close to my ear - thus eliminating my body as the middleman.

Strange, huh? What's even stranger is how my ears work differently. My right ear picks up "sharp" noises like knocking or a barking dog while my left ear picks up "soft" noises like a ringing phone or a meowing cat. That's with the hearing aids...and no, I don't use the hearing aids anymore.

Why? For a long while, I kept getting confusing mix of sounds on my hearing aids...remember how my ears work independently in the last paragraph? That wasn't discovered until I was in my mid-20's. I had given up on the hearing aids when I was 12. I tried the hearing aids again with this new discovery and a better understanding of how my ears work...and that was still a failure, so I quit for good.

I think it has something to do with the atrophy factor in the part of my brain that processes sound. Just like the legs of a person who became paralyzed - they atrophy after a long period of no activity. Because of that, I am no longer a viable candidate for cochlear implants - I wouldn't be able to process sounds effectively at all. I do not want to be a candidate anyway - I love sports too much and I wouldn't be allowed to play softball or racquetball or football or anything with physical contact.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A new significant change in my life

Late last month, I was appointed as the director of a deaf community center. What that means is my visits to your blogs and my responses to your comments will be erratic at times. For that, I apologize. When I have the center up and running smoothly, I will be around more often.

I still have a boatload of posts waiting for me to: fill out, answer questions, polish, tweak, and/or schedule to publish. My last count was 16 new posts. Plenty of reading material for you. ;)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Formspring Q & A #16

Q: How is your speech? I mean, how well do you speak? I don't know if you do talk or not.

A: A legitimate question. Some deaf people do not speak and they do not for either one of the two reasons - they do not want to speak for whatever reason or they are unable to speak.

I do speak and I have interacted with other hearing people who have had zero experience with deaf people. I've discovered that there are three types of people when it comes to understanding my speech. Those who understand me with no difficulty, those who need to use imagination to understand me, and those who don't understand at all.

With that said, I've been told that my speech is "good" or "pretty good" for those with my level of deafness who do not rely on hearing aids to aid in communication.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Formspring Q & A #15

Q: Ever been pulled over by a cop? If so, how would you handle that? Would you be afraid?

A: Oh yeah, I have been pulled over several times by a cop. Yes, I get nervous every time no matter how many times I get pulled over. Why? I have no idea if the cop wants me out of the car with hands up or put my hands out the window or whatever. The cop could use the loudspeaker and it would not matter one bit. Can't hear!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Story series - Point A to B to A, not C, D, or E. Clear?

You've learned from last week's post that I had been driving for less than a year when I hit the Hulk. I have a better story for you and it's infinitely more entertaining. :)

I was staying at my father's for the weekend and I was in the mood to have my best friend over to hang around with. My father did not want to go get him (he lived 30 minutes away) and I told him that I would be more than happy to go. He tried to deter me by reminding me that I was low on gas and he was not paying for gas.

No matter. I was willing to go and get him and take him back home. My father sighed and said to me, "Okay. I will let you go, on one condition. You go there and get him and come back here in one hour. Got that?"

I nodded my head. In reality, I was going "Yeah, yeah, whatever." in my head. He said, as if he had sensed that, "That means no stopping for food, no getting off that road for anything, nothing. Not even to go to the bathroom. Point A to B to A, not C, D, or E. Clear?"

"Yes, I got it."

5 minutes later, I was on the road with every cent of $2.35 pumped into my tank. I got my friend 20 minutes (yep, I drove fast) after that. I told my friend about what my father said and we had better hurry back. We were back on the road and about halfway to home, he convinced me to take a quick detour to look at computer games. What's the harm as long as I got back home in one hour?

After taking a quick look-over at a store located on a road perpendicular to the road I was supposed to be on, we got in my car and got ready to exit...only to find that the road was jammed full of cars. This added to my anxiety considerably - waiting for the cross traffic to clear enough for me to get out of the parking lot meant that the safety margin would shrink exponentially.

After about two minutes of waiting, suddenly there was a clearing and I jumped for it. Made it! My friend and I celebrated and high-fived each other. (Sound of a car crashing into another) Oh, bleep. Our celebration was short-lived. I had hit a car, 100 yards from the road I was supposed to be on.

100 yards. A block. A football field.

The driver angrily motioned for me to pull into a restaurant's parking lot and I followed. All I could think about was how I was going to explain this to my fa...when the driver jumped out of the car with a rearview mirror in her hand and slammed the door on the Cadillac hard.

Funny how I noticed the rearview mirror in her hand right away. Not her face, not her build, not her age, not her fashion style...just the mirror. As she stomped her way up to me, I could see she was a young woman, about same age as me...pretty and a bit heavy on the makeup.

She started yelling at me, which made it impossible for me to understand so I calmly told her, "I'm deaf." She glared at me, turned around, and walked around my yell at my friend. I calmly said to her, "he is deaf too." and she threw her arms up and yelled in frustration before walking away from us. She went in her car and I noticed that there were 2 other young women in there. She got out and went into the restaurant.

All in the span of one minute. I took stock of the damage. My bumper was now pushed in and I could see the Cadillac's bumper was hanging a bit. I realized that I need to call my father. That's when one of the passengers came out and asked me if I go to that high school. I was stunned by not only that, but how easily I could understand her. I nodded at her and I asked how she knew that. She told me that she knew a girl there who has a deaf brother and she wondered if I was the same guy. I nodded again.

If you'll recall from my bully posts, I was the only deaf student there. Not hard to figure out. I was going to be a smart-aleck about it, but the young woman was very nice and pleasant. I was attracted to that. She asked if there was anything she could do for us and I remembered about my father. I asked her to call for me.

We chatted for a while (the driver got back in her car and never came out) and then my father showed up. Oh yeah. That look on his face. Readers, you KNOW exactly what I mean by that. Forget the Hulk. He had nothing on my father - I had to live with this one. He didn't say much to me. He didn't have to. I could feel it.

The young woman, after my dad left to talk to the driver and overheard my father ask the driver about contacting her parents, said "Oh boy, I don't want to be here when my friend's mother finds out." That's when I discovered that the driver was in bigger trouble than I was. No wonder why she was so livid and how she reacted to us.

She borrowed her mother's car...without permission and got busted for it due to my negligence. And my father? He asked me over and over and over for the next 6 months how much it cost to fix the Cadillac's bumper...and my bumper.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Story series - Holy bleep, I hit the Hulk!

June 3, 1985. That was the day I survived my encounter with the Hulk.

How could I forget that when I thought for sure that I would not live to see my birthday in 2 weeks?

I was the only junior with a driver's licence only because my mother decided to start me in 7th grade instead of 8th grade after I graduated from a school for the deaf. That made me a hot commodity with my friends and I was more than happy to drive them around because naively, I thought this was a good way to score chicks.

I was driving my friend Jack* home and I did a coasting stop (where you don't touch the pedals at all) behind a car at a red light on an upward slope of a hill...and braked...or so I thought. I made the classic blunder of not realizing which pedal I was pressing on.

(foot presses down, engine revs, *thunk!*)

The driver looked back at me through the rearview mirror and motioned with his hand, pointing at a convenience store. I held up my hand and nodded.

We pulled into the parking lot and the Hulk emerged. Not the green-skinned, barely clad pissed-off type. No. He was HUGE - not obese...but MUSCLED. In my testosterone-fuled mind, he looked to be 6 feet 6 inches tall with 250 pounds of muscles packed on his frame.

He finally arrived at my window, leaned down to look at me better, paused, and cocked his head a if I had stumped him...and he said, "Are you John*?"

I started thinking rapidly..."If I say yes, will he beat me up? If I say no, will he beat me up?"

Before I could answer the Hulk, my friend Jack* jumped in with an affirmation to my identity. I looked at Jack* in could he betray me?!? Before I could say something to my friend about getting his ride revoked permanently, I realized I still had the Hulk to deal with and I looked back at him.

Then...the Hulk inexplicably said, "Never mind. It's okay." and walked back to his car. Jack* and I looked at each other in disbelief. I looked at the Hulk's car uncomprehendingly, and then the car drove off. I looked back at Jack* and said, "What the bleep was that?!?" Jack* shrugged.

The mystery was solved 2 days later when I visited my dad. He casually asked me how my driving experience had been so far.

"Fine, still learning."
"Good. No problem with your car?"
"Other than the steering wheel shaking at 60 mph, no."
"Ah yeah. Any accident so far?"
I didn't want to tell him the truth - "Hm, no."
"You sure?"
That's when I got suspicious - "Come on, Dad. How did you know?"
He grinned and said, "You don't know who you hit two days ago?"

I told him that I didn't recognize the guy and my dad laughed.

"Dad, who was it? The driver was huge. Who?"
"You really didn't know who?"
"No! Tell me!"
"That was our neighbor's son, Larry*."

Now I know who the guy was could I when I was THIS CLOSE to peeing in my pants at the sight of the Hulk?

*Names changed to protect the inoccent parties. ;p

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bullying at home

Someone e-mailed me to ask this question - "Were you ever bullied at home? I would think you were. Is that too painful to discuss?"

No, not painful to discuss at all. I just talked about three instances of bullying at high school. Didn't talk about grade school (actually I did, you can read about it in my spitting war post) or my deaf school, let alone at home. Good question.

In Bully #2 post, I wrote about having been in fights. Most of the fights occurred near my house. The biggest one involved 3 boys jumping on me. As you will recall in Bully post #2, I made the leader pay by making the brick wall meet his head.

All of that paled in comparison to the kid who lived next door to me. I was a day older than him, but he had major issues - his mother left when he was a baby, he was 4th of 6 children, he had an older brother who was sadistic, his dad kept marrying his secretaries (his mom was one, his 1st stepmom was one, his 2nd stepmom was one, etc.), he got in fights with anyone and everyone, was held back in school twice before dropping out as a sophomore and he frequently stole things.

Took me a long time to figure out that he was friends with me only to take advantage of me. I didn't know better and I finally had enough of him when I was a junior. The breaking point happened that May when he cooked up some elaborate explanation about how he needed my car and how he would make a lot of money with my help.

After loading a full case of vodka bottles into the trunk of my car, he told me to drive to a certain location. I asked him how he got a whole case and he claimed that he took it from his father. I knew that his father doesn't drink vodka and I pressed him on that, but he stuck to his story.

After arriving at the destination, it dawned on me how he intended to make money with the case. We were at a prom party (this was BEFORE chaperones were commonplace in the mid 80's) and I felt sick to my stomach...he was trying to sell liquor to kids without regard to how they may or may not arrive home safely...or how the date may not turn out well while under the influence of alcohol.

Luckily for me, the night got cold and I managed to convince him that I would drive him back here after I went home to get my jacket. He had not sold any bottle yet and he went with me because he knew that I knew I was the getaway driver. He had no way of escaping if he stayed behind and got busted.

The moment I went into my house was the moment I told my mother what was going on. She immediately called his father and asked that we all meet in their living room. The son glared at me as we came in. She then told his father that there was a case of vodka in the trunk of my car and his own son was trying to sell them to the kids at the prom party.

His response? "I want to call the police and press charges on your son for trying to sell liquor."

My mother was shocked, but recovered quickly and said, "Want to bet whose fingerprints the police will find on the bottles? Want to bet what the witnesses will say who tried to sell them liquor? In fact, I wonder how YOUR son got a case of vodka. Hmm?"

The father just sat there.

Then he tried to blame me for putting ideas in his son's head. I was stunned by that. How could he say such things about me? I lived next door with the family for about 10 years and he said that? My mother explained to me afterward that he was in denial. He did not want to admit that his own son was so screwed up like that.

About 5-7 months later, he was arrested for burglary at an electronic store along with 2 other friends and not surprisingly, he made one of his friends the patsy by fingering him as the ringleader. After I found out about that, I went to the patsy and said, "I know you were not the ringleader." He felt better about that, but the look on his if this...whatever it was...would be permanently etched into his face...I didn't and still don't know exactly what his thought was at that moment.

Out of curiousity, I covertly checked out the son on Facebook 2 months ago...wasn't hard with an unusual last name like his. He didn't list any family (I was unable to locate his siblings), didn't seem to have kids, his status showed that he is not in a relationship, and has 2,000+ friends. He looks THIN and looks old (remember...I am just one day older than him). Pathetic.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Story series - Mom, it wasn't me! It was that man's fault!

When Copyboy of Not Worth Mentioning! blog posted yesterday about the douche kicking sand in the dork's face, he had this picture up which triggered a memory recall.

When I saw this ad in one of my comics back in the 70's, I thought the only way to look like Charles Atlas was to do what the guy did in his room (see above, 1st picture in second row).

After trashing my room, I was standing there in my undies, looking at myself in the mirror and trying to see if muscles had somehow appeared on me (see above, 2nd picture in second row)...when my mom walked in on me.

Naturally, she wasn't happy about the condition of my room and I panicked...I said, "Mom, it wasn't me! It was that man's fault!" (pointing at Charles Atlas) as if she would believe that a man in a comic book had come to life and trashed my room. No matter how hard I tried to convince her that it wasn't me, she made me clean and put everything back in their places.

It took me a while to learn what all those words in that ad meant. Subliminal advertising. ;)