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On Friday, July 2 2010, I traveled to the Menlo Mall in Edison, NJ to observe and participate in a Deaf culture event meeting at the Starbucks. This event takes place on the first Friday of every month, and I was lucky enough to be able to hear about and attend to this one right before the paper was actually due. All the other events I attempted to plan on going to interfered with my work and class schedule, so I was fortunate to have gotten an e-mail from a fellow class mate, Allison White.

This wasn’t my first Deaf event because last year one of my close friends took AMSL 101 and 102 during the summer so I went with him to a Starbucks in Edison, NJ to be a wingman for him while he observed and talked. Last year when I went with him, I had no idea what to expect. It was a little overwhelming seeing groups of people signing, but I was there as a tag a long, so I just went with it. I luckily talked a girl I am talking to, to come with me since she wasn’t doing anything else. Not gonna lie, I told her we were going for Rita’s and then going to see the movie Grown Ups; totally lied.

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At first she was really pissed at me, but then when I told her I had to go for class and explained to her what the event was, she was sort of excited to be able to see how the Deaf culture get together. On my way to the event, we got lost. I was using the Google Map application on my phone. For some reason Google Maps and Mapquest always sends you through the “ghetto” of towns, never easy highways. After the arguing in the car and the silence treatment I was went through for 25 minutes, I finally just plugged in my GPS and thankfully it lead us to the right direction.

Who would have though that each different navigation uses different directions? When we got to the mall, I had my head on straight. I knew what I came for, I had it all planned out. I was going to go find the event, introduce myself to some people, introduce my “date”, and see where that takes me. Unfortunetly, this was her first time at Menlo Mall as I found out, and we know how chicks get when they are in a mall, shopping time. She dragged me into about 12 stores looking for “summer clothes” as she told me.

She did say I owe her since I did lie about where we were going. So I didn’t complain, plus, it was a long ride. I didn’t want the ride home to be bad. After she got her “shopping fix”, we started to look for the Starbucks or any group of people we see signing. We walked around the whole mall twice creeping on people trying to see if they were Deaf or not. I was so pissed at her because I figured that while we were going store to store, the event finished. Not gonna lie, I was giving her hell, but it was for a good reason, my grade!

She was trying to calm me down and of course telling me, “We’re going to find someone, don’t worry. ” All I was hearing was, “Blah, blah, blah. ” I was so pissed off. While she was talking to me, she accidently bumped into an older couple. She apologized with the movement of her hand on her chest and coinsidently, the woman signed to her and said, “It’s okay” with the little different tone. I automatically knew she was Deaf and almost hugged her knowing I found someone. I politely stopped her form walking and signed if she was Deaf or hearing and she smiled and signed back she was Deaf.

I told her about my class and how I had to come to an event and observe and talk and she told me that the meeting was over. I wasn’t upset because I had her and her partner there. Luckily she was an attractive older woman, so she obviously wouldn’t come to the mall or an event herself. I introduced myself and my friend and got her name. Her name was Janet and she signed that the guy was her friend. I told her that I was from MSU and this was my first time signing in public. She told me that she meets kids like me all the time at events there for a class.

She asked me all easy questions, thank God. She asked how old I was, if I play sports and if I worked out. My friend started dying laughing and had me tell Janet that she shouldn’t have asked me that because my head is already huge and cocky. Janet laughed at her and told her she should be lucky to have a guy who was in shape. Thank you Janet. I told Janet that we were in a rush and I promised my friend ice cream, she thanked me for signing to her and tried not to talk while signing. She said that practice makes perfect.

After leaving Janet and her friend, my friend was saying how amazing it was that she was Deaf, but still able to talk a little bit. Obviously it was fully clear speech, but it was enough to be able to understand what she was saying. My friend went on saying how she knows what language she’s going to be taken for school and how I should teach her to sign and all that stuff. I told her that unfortunetly she’s screwed, she’s going to have to take a class. I know, I’m mean. I really lucked out last night. Even though how annoying Vanessa was, she ended up being the x-factor.

She basically found me my 2 people to meet and sign to. Without her who knows if I would have been able to complete my assignment. But then again, without her shopping, I maybe would have found the event and more people. Who knows, I’m just happy I got to meet someone. The experience was awesome. It probably helped that Janet was able to talk a little bit, but it was still an amazing experience. Hopefully Vanessa doesn’t try to sign to me after her experience, or maybe it might work out. I won’t have to hear her voice and complaints. Hahahaha.

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