One summer, my friend and I decided to go to the beach for the summer and find work. We didn't think our deafness would make it too hard to find a job, considering there were all sorts of positions; house-keeping, restaurant type work, store clerk, amusement park ride attendants to name a few. We asked my friend's mom to drive us up there (it was 3 hours away from home) and drop us off. When we got there, we were going to sleep on the beach and wait until we earned enough money to rent a room for the summer, but her mom asked us where we were going to sleep and gave us enough money to cover a week's worth of rent for a room. I'm sure she thought we were being foolish.
We had all the basics-- swimsuits, beach towels, baby oil (the days before skin cancer made news), change of clothes, alarm clock, and a few other things. We were total beach bums until we ran out of money. The lady we rented a room from suggested we go to a jewelry/gift shop on the boardwalk and ask for Hughie. So we go down and ask for Hughie. We landed jobs that afternoon and he asked us to come back at the shift change at 4 pm. They had interesting shift hours-- Shift A would work from 9 am to 4, then shift B works 4 til closing (sometimes 11 sometimes 1 am, depending on how busy the boardwalk was); then the next day, shift B comes in at 9 am to 4. As crazy as it was, work one night and come in bleary-eyed the next morning, then be off until tomorrow afternoon, it worked out for us party girls.
Deaf people use alarm clocks to wake up just like hearing people, with a couple of differences-- Hearing people use sound and we use either a light attachment or a vibrating attachment you slip under the mattress or pillow. One morning after several nights of either partying and going to bed in the wee hours, or working late hours and not getting home until 2 am, the lack of sleep was catching up to us and we woke up late. VERY late! I was so tired from the night before, that I had forgotten to set the alarm. We quickly dressed and half ran, half walked (it was about 10 blocks) to work. We came in breathless and I announced in a loud voice, "My vibrator didn't go off!!" (Let's pause and think about what I said for a minute.....hmmm...vibrator....) I got the funniest looks from Hughie and the other workers, PLUS the customers that were in the store. It took me a minute to realize that I was talking to HEARING people who are not aware that Deaf people use vibrating attachments to the alarm clock. I just wanted to sink below the floor. At least everybody laughed when I explained what my vibrator was.
Every once in a while, we would get Deaf customers. I was always glad to help and it was fun to see their surprised faces that 2 Deaf girls were working as cashiers in a busy shop at the beach! I would always watch Deaf people signing, seeing what they are saying about the merchandise, the customers unaware there was a Deaf worker watching them, until one day Hughie saw me watching and came up to me, nudged me in the arm and said, "Stop eavesdropping!" I had never thought of it that way before and to this day, tend to look away when I see Deaf people signing, not wanting to "spy" on their conversations. Hughie, which we always pronounced as "Huey" (who-ee) never corrected us when we found out we had been saying his name wrong all summer. He even said he liked it and told us to keep saying it the way we have been.
That summer was great! All the money we earned went to rent and good times. Food was lunch at the boardwalk eateries or ramen cooked on the small stove, or a big batch of potato salad that would last at least a week. We didn't care about food, it was just fun we wanted! It was hard seeing the end of summer come and we sadly went home, empty pockets, but full of memories and promises that we'd be back!