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Deaf Peddler: Chapter Three

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I had always wanted to fly, and now I wanted to see if my disability would stand in the way of that dream. Wright State, which was named for the Wright brothers, offered a course called “Private Pilot Ground School.” Nine months later I proved to myself that it was indeed possible … I got my pilot’s license. I called Don to chide him a bit for never having followed through on his part of the dream.

Don’s situation had changed by that time. He and his girlfriend were no longer an item, and he tried to talk me into coming back to Florida and following through on our plan to peddle together. But it was too late. I had other plans, and I wasn’t anxious to take that particular risk with him again. So I stayed in Ohio and looked for a real job.

I ended up getting a computer programming job at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, where my father worked, making $8 an hour, just over $300 a week before taxes. The Social Security Administration lets deaf people have up to a year in a new job before terminating their SSDI benefits, so for a while it was like having two jobs.

After a year, though, the SSDI extensions ran out. My salary was a far cry from what I could make peddling, and I felt severely underpaid. So I supplemented my income by driving into Chicago on the weekends to peddle at O’Hare International Airport. I usually earned from $750 to $1,000 a weekend during that period. I was becoming experienced at peddling, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was moving toward a lifestyle I would never have imagined for myself.

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