Near 

 aslthe flier said “First Come First Served”, so I assumed that meant there wouldn’t be presale tickets.  It turned out I was wrong, and they were completely sold out when we got there.  It was at the college my mother works at, a magic show by professional magicians (Deafinitely Magic), followed by some fun skits by the ASL students, with professional voice interpreting.  My mother agreed to go with me, and I was so excited… Not only to be going, but to have a backup person for moral support.  When my husband, Brian, realized there would be voice interpreting, he got excited about going as well.  I was absolutely thrilled.  I’m required to attent two deaf events this semester, and this was supposed to count as my second one. 

The three of us walked through the double glass doors and into the loby of the theater.  Tons of people were sitting on old 1980’s style overstuffed chairs, and a few more were sitting at a folding table like a panel of judges.  It wasn’t as quiet as you would think a gathering of people who speak ASL would be, as hearing students chatted with their hearing neighbors.    It felt like everyone looked up as we walked in, and I instantly felt self consious.  I’m fully aware that at this point in my ASL career, my skills are on the bad side of mediocre.  Most of the people, returning now to their previous conversations, were young and well dressed, some with children in tow and most with a young significant other by their side.  We learned awfully quickly that the people waiting were all people who didn’t have tickets.  The event was sold out.   

“Yeah, there’s a sign above the door that says Sold Out.”  Brian pointed out.

“Oh no!”  I exclaimed.  I didn’t know what I would do if we couldn’t get in.  I would have to go to an intimidating Deaf Event all by myself where I actually had to speak one-on-one with people.   I’m scared to do that.

“Well, are they going to be letting people in if people with tickets don’t show?”  my mother asked.

“Or standing room only, or something.”  I added.

“Why don’t we get in line and find out.”  She said, and we got in line.

OK, I told myself, you know the man at the ticket counter will probably be deaf, so you’re on.  Instantly, my heart started pounding and I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins.  NO-TICKETS?  MAYBE-YOU-HAVE-TICKETS-LATER?  I kept saying to myself over and over, visualizing the signs as the line progressed. 

When the three of us got to the front, the man looked at me expectantly.  I started to sign.

“No tickets?”  I asked him. 

“No, I’m sorry,”  he told me, “We’re sold out.”

“Maybe, will you have tickets later?”  I asked him

“Maybe… I don’t know right now.”  he signed.

“OK, should we wait?”  I asked again

“Yes, you can wait over there.”  he told me

I gave him a big smile (partially of relief that I had made it through – I’ll admit it), and signed “Thank you” as I stepped aside.

“OK, what just happened?”  Brian asked me.  I told them both about the conversation and they looked impressed.  I felt good, too.  I know my ASL isn’t wonderful, but another ASL speaker understood what I was saying, and I understood him back.  That’s the first time I’ve experienced that outside of class.  It was an amazing feeling.

The rest of the 20 minutes we spent waiting were pretty great as well.  Some of us students started talking about how far we had driven, and then we started showing each other the new signs we learned that day.  I already knew “TICKETS”, but I learned “SOLD OUT” and “WAIT”.  I didn’t feel so bad about not getting in when I realized that, even though we had driven far, a lot of other people waiting had driven farther. 

I think the most important thing about last Saturday was my epiphany.  I had a conversation with a man I never would have been capable of speaking to previously, and it wasn’t that hard.  He was really nice to me, and I felt like it was something I could do again.  You know, speak to someone I didn’t know in a language I’m not that familiar with.  It wasn’t Starbucks, but it was a small step closer.  I never did get to see that magic show, so it won’t count as a class assignment.  It might be a blessing in disguise, though.  I’ll be at my local Panera Bread soon, chatting with my hands.

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