Deaf Peddler: Chapter Three
We were a great duo, Don and I. At that point I was working full time as a data specialist in addition to attending school and interning at IBM. I liked to work and I liked making money. Don must have decided I had what it takes to be a good business partner, and before long we launched our first business venture. We spent $2,000 on a 52-inch television with a caption decoder, something quite unusual on campus at that time, and started hosting an all-night movie fest on Friday nights. We charged each student three dollars and offered soda and free popcorn. It was immensely successful, and we ended up making $400 the first night alone.
Any business conducted on campus had to be a college-related promotion, so we entered into an agreement with the basketball coach, giving half our earnings to the Gallaudet basketball fund. After this first success, we decided to host a Super Bowl event using our new TV, and later bought a camcorder and videotaped students. We gave out ticket stubs inviting them to come and watch “their show” for five dollars. Every plan we made seemed to make more money than the last, and we quickly realized that these were only the first of many joint business ventures to come.
Don had to leave Gallaudet in the middle of the fall 1994 semester. He moved back to his home in Ocala, Florida with his grandmother and mother. I missed him, but we continued to keep in touch.
I knew it was important to have a great deal of experience in the field before getting a permanent job, so I decided to get as much work experience as possible. I was one of the university’s top students, and in the spring I began interviewing for a summer internship. An AT&T recruiter came to campus to interview the university’s top ten computer science students, and asked me to intern for the company’s information systems division. So I moved out to Denver, with all travel expenses taken care of by the company.
In Colorado I lived in an apartment with one roommate. I didn’t know anybody, and it was pretty lonely. Although it was a paid internship, I still needed to earn some extra money. Then I remembered Don and his peddling cards. I called and asked him to send me one of his cards. When the sample card arrived, I took it to a local print shop and for only $125 they printed up a thousand copies.
Now that I had made an investment, I asked Don how to proceed. It sounded easy when he explained it to me via TTY.
“Just pass the cards around,” he said, “then people will give you money.”
It turned out to be easier said than done, although I did earn the first two dollars easily,but only because the people at the print shop wanted to buy one of the cards they had just printed!
After that first sale, it was all uphill. I went to a mall and wasn’t particularly successful. I only made one dollar after an hour of peddling. So I called Don again and complained about my bad luck. He agreed to come through Denver on his way to the Deaf World Games in Los Angeles.