This pedestrian memoir is a confessional narrative in the strictest sense. Buck, a deaf man with a graduate degree in computer science, confesses that from 1985 to 1996, he earned money as a peddler, working either part-time or full-time, in airports, restaurants and malls. Born in 1960 to hearing parents, Buck was doing well in his first year at Gallaudet University when a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. He eventually returned to Gallaudet in a wheelchair and completed his undergraduate studies--but, insecure and troubled, he soon found that he could make good money by distributing sign language cards to pedestrians and requesting a donation. In clear prose, Buck provides a brief history of deaf peddlers (who are, to this day, ostracized by most other deaf people), and tells his own story--the years when peddling was just a lucrative sideline (while he was employed as a neural network engineer at Wright Patterson Air Force base); his stint as a full-time peddler at Chicago's O'Hare Airport; his frequent run-ins with the police. He also vividly describes the rings of illegal immigrants, some deaf, who are smuggled into the U.S. and forced to peddle for the profit of their exploiters. But this account seems aimed at condemning his former life and the deaf men and women who still peddle. Wracked by shame about his own past, the reformed peddler boasts of his strong work ethic and argues against charity and social security programs for deaf people. B&w illustrations. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
If the publisher were not well respected, this book could be mistaken for a vanity publication. Buck, who is a deaf paraplegic, writes of his life as a peddler of "deaf cards" in airports despite having an advanced degree in computer science and periodically working at responsible jobs. Peddling as a way of life is largely frowned upon by the deaf community, and Buck tries to explain why he has done it for so long (lots of easy money) and to apologize to his deaf peers. The result, however, is self-serving and whiny. In a style reminiscent of a college paper, Buck tries to justify his peddling by rationalizing that the hearing donors are "na ve fools" and that the government encourages this sort of "welfare cheating" through loopholes in disability benefits. Purchase only where interest in deaf culture is high; otherwise, not recommended.--Ann Forister, Roseville P.L., CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Buck stopped his 11-year stint of selling the Hi I'm Deaf cards in airports and train stations when the National Association of the Deaf convinced him that the practice reinforced the stereotype of deaf people as pitiful disabled wretches. Here he traces the history of deaf peddling, explains its daily organization and its benefits and drawbacks, and discusses the continuing exploitation of undereducated deaf people by oppressive overseers. Of course he includes many personal anecdotes, such as organizing his rounds using a spreadsheet program and sneaking in open hotel rooms to take showers. The personal memoir is without scholarly paraphernalia. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)