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Deaf Peddler

Confessions of an Inside Man

Dennis S. Buck

Publication Year: 2000

In airports and train stations it is not unusual for waiting passengers to be approached by a person who will hand out a brochure or trinket, then indicate that he or she is deaf and ask for payment, anything they can afford. In many instances, the travelers feel pity for the poor unfortunate and dole out a dollar or two, yet most are utterly unaware that these pitiful beggars earn hundred of dollars this way in a matter of a few hours. Dennis Buck knows this unique form of panhandling intimately because, despite holding a degree in computer science and receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), he was a deaf peddler for 11 years. In Deaf Peddler: Confessions of an Inside Man, Buck unveils all of the ins and outs of exploiting his “disabilities” to earn easy money. Buck details the day-to-day life of a deaf peddler, including where to go to make the most money in the least time (airports with their constant transient clientele, malls on weekends, and fast food restaurants), how to live on the cheap (wait for people checking out to leave their motel rooms, then sneak in to use the shower), and how to live well when business is good. He also explains how he organized his rounds using a spreadsheet program. Deaf Peddler also provides a historical perspective on deaf peddling as a way for under-educated deaf people to make a living when jobs were hard to find, wages were low, and Social Security did not exist. The “no good” life served as the rationale to many deaf people for peddling, but many more in the Deaf community deplored their actions, and the National Association of the Deaf campaigned to discourage this behavior that reinforced deaf stereotypes. Buck abandoned peddling himself for this reason, but he points out that deaf peddling survives today, frequently in the highly exploitative form of rings of deaf workers completely controlled by oppressive deaf and hearing overseers. Deaf Peddler presents in engaging fashion a little-known cultural phenomenon that offers a revealing turn on the general issue of panhandling in our society today.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. vi

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pp. vii-xx

These past several decades have been a time of advance for the deaf community in the United States. Deaf and hearing individuals alike have learned about the history and culture of the American deaf community

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pp. xxi-xxii

First of all, Iwould like to thank the entire group of peddlers whose stories are featured in this book. Without them and without Don, I would not have this story to tell. If I hadn't come to know the peddling life firsthand, perhaps I wouldn't have been as motivated to better...

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

From 1985 to 1996 I participated in thousands of such encounters, despite the fact that deaf peddling had never even been part of my vocabulary-not as a child growing up on a farm in Ohio, not as...

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CHAPTER ONE History of Deaf peddling

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pp. 1-11

The word "peddler" is derived from the Middle English ped, or basket. A peddler was one who carried his wares in a ped. To most people, the word conjures up an image of someone travelling from village to village...

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pp. 12-33

My parents are hearing. They are hardworking mic westerners with high moral standards. My mother is registered nurse, my father was in the military befm taking a civilian job at Wright Patterson Air Force Base...

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CHAPTER THREE Early Days on the Road

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pp. 34-56

As the doctor predicted, my first few months back at Gallaudet were difficult. Everything was new because I had to learn ways to accommodate my disability. I lost all of my friends from the year before, especially...

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CHAPTER FOUR O'Hare and Beyond

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pp. 57-83

I continued working for Wright Patterson Air Force Base, moving into a research and development project as a neural network engineer. I was working on an artificial intelligence project whose goal was to let fighter...

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pp. 84-100

I decided to move to Florida for the fresh air and sunshine, and settled in Orlando because of the huge number of tourists passing through the city's airport. After Chicago, Orlando felt like paradise. Orlando International Airport is...

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CHAPTER SIX Reflections and Renewal

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pp. 101-110

Most peddlers are motivated by a strong aversion to the alternative: working eight hours a day at $5 an hour for years on end. They look at people who work regular hours for low wages and view their situation as a bad...

E-ISBN-13: 9781563682155
E-ISBN-10: 156368215X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563680960
Print-ISBN-10: 1563680963

Page Count: 136
Illustrations: 10 figures
Publication Year: 2000

OCLC Number: 57352325
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Deaf Peddler

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Subject Headings

  • Buck, Dennis S.
  • Peddlers -- United States -- Biography.
  • Deaf men -- United States -- Biography.
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