I am sharing my 1983 story that starts my day with cool news until that moment with educational sign language interpreters in one of their cars ruining my day. Ain’t it cool to ruin somebody’s holidays?
It is based on a true story.
Here is my Christmas story in 1983. I was going on a class field trip. I was nine years old. My Deaf classmates and I were invited to meet Santa Claus at Jantzen Beach Mall across the bridge in Portland, Oregon. The surprise was that Santa knew signing. I guess we were surprised after all. When it was my turn to meet Santa, he asked my name then asked me what I want for Christmas.
I signed, “GI JOE” and I was wearing BMX shirt. The reason I asked for, I grew up dreaming about joining Army. My uncle was in Army, and became enamored with his stories. Until I was old enough to learn that Deaf people are not allowed to enlist in Army.
After the day was over with Santa, our interpreters (two of them) proceed to take couple of Deaf students and myself in one of their cars, I remember that moment when they were smoking chain cigarettes, and I asked the interpreter on passenger side to get rid of it. I grew sick of it. They laughed and one of the interpreters offered me a cigarette and said they would teach me how to smoke. They put a peer pressure on me and they even said, “it is good for you to smoke.” with a smile. I remember that moment; I was shocked and said, “NO! NO!”
The interpreters laughed even still pressured me to smoke. Going back to school from Mall, I’d say it would take no more than 35 minutes. Countless stop signs. It was in another town in other state. That trip was not very pleasant experience. What would you feel if your interpreters who are smokers, offering you a cigarette to smoke at nine years old? How do you were in my shoes? How would you report this? Did interpreters do wrong? Why or why not? If I report this to my teacher, there is most likely I would get punished even more.
When I came home from a long trip riding my small school bus, the very last person cause I lived the farthest. I grew furious. My father asked me how it went. I just did not know how to respond to his question. I became confused and lost. That was my first and last signing Santa. I never get to see signing Santa again.
Think it is fair for me to deserve a punishment like that? I did not understand really why the interpreters would be allowed to do that. Who authorized this idea? What about teachers who approved this practice be held for community accountability?
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