Back in the days when I was poor, my ex and I used to take our son to the mall on Saturdays. We were living paycheck to paycheck at the time and we struggled to make our money last. Still, we needed something to do. He enjoyed browsing the video game store. I used to go in the women’s clothing store, and look through the SALE racks while our baby cooed and laughed in the stroller. All I could afford to buy was either something on clearance or pretty thongs, the four for ten bucks deal. I bought a new pair of underwear every time my mood was low. I had a lot of pretty underwear.
We were sitting in the food court when a gray haired woman walked up and handed me a card with illustrations of the American Sign Language ABCs. There were words on the back. It read:
Hello. I am a deaf citizen and I cannot work because of my disability. I am giving you this card because it is my only way of income. I ask for any donation you can afford to give me for this card. Anything is appreciated.
I had a debit card for my account containing about $32 and about 16 cents in my pocket. I handed the woman the 16 cents because it was all I had. She threw the change at me and violently snatched the card back before walking away. I was shocked. I could not believe what had just happened. Hadn’t the card said, “Anything is appreciated?”
After becoming a dancer, I worked with a deaf girl who made around 600$ a shift. She had a phone with a keyboard that she would use to talk to customers. She used sign language and a few of the girls knew ASL too. It was so inspirational to see a disabled woman determined to make a living without letting her disability hold her back.
At one time, I worked with a girl who had lost most of her hand in a bad car accident. She wore a bandage on it and used her good hand on the pole. Sometimes the bandage even matched her outfit. She didn’t let her disability stop her from living the life of a stripper.
One evening I watched a customer hoist himself out of his wheelchair and scoot downstairs to the couch room one step at a time. He refused help from the bouncer and made it down entirely on his own. He got lap dance after lap dance and then turned around and went back upstairs the same way he had gotten down.
Whenever I see someone facing adversity yet continuing to push on through, I always think back to the deaf woman from the mall. If a deaf stripper can make a living in this world, I am convinced that that mean lady from the mall could just as easily get a job working on a computer or in some sandwich shop. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t sympathize with someone who is disabled like that. It’s just that after having my last sixteen cents thrown back at me, I had a harder time feeling sorry for her.
Meeting the girl who had lost a hand and continued to dance was inspirational. So was meeting the deaf girl who was raking in cash every night. She wasn’t handing out cards and asking for donations. I think she sold more lap dances and made more money than all of us.
So go tell the deaf stripper about people who can’t work because they’re deaf. Chances are she is too busy making money in the champagne room to hear it…
No pun intended.