Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hobby Lobby & The Hearing Impaired

Not long ago my wife and I were at Hobby Lobby looking for some supplies for an upcoming baby shower. For those who have never been to a Hobby Lobby, the merchandise breakdown is as follows:

  • 30% = Seasonal Items (mechanized Santas, ceramic pumpkins, pictures of a mechanized Santa sitting on a ceramic pumpkin)

  • 40% = Craft Items (scrapbooking materials, items that were designed to interact with hot glue, pictures of other people’s completed craft projects)

  • 15% = Letters of the Alphabet (these are sold individually as block letters, wall decorations, or photos of random letters that spell words like “love” or “peace.”)

  • 15% = Owl-based decorations (lamps, sculptures, pictures of owls overlooking Santa’s craft project involved pumpkins carved with letters of the alphabet)

At any rate, while my wife was agonizing over the varying shades of pink napkins I was approached by a well-dressed Caucasian man in his 60’s who silently handed me a business card. The card indicated that he was deaf and that he supported his family by selling the card in exchange for donations. The card featured a set of praying hands and the words “God Bless You All” on the front and a chart of the sign language alphabet on the back.

What struck me immediately was the quality of said card. It featured embossed lettering and thick cardstock. My curiosity was immediately peaked and I wanted to retain the card so that I could research the legitimacy of his claim. This left me with two choices:

1.      Give him some money and possibly contribute to fraudulent panhandling.
2.      Keep the card, refuse to pay him, and take the chance of going to Hell for stealing from the hearing impaired.

Always one to hedge my bets, I gave him a dollar and he signed either “Thank You” or “Dumb Cracker” before walking away (I was unable to decode his motions fast enough using the card I had just purchased). He seemed to be operating alone, and since the deaf can legally drive I assumed he provided his own transportation. I tried to keep track of him to see what kind of vehicle he drove but I lost him near the felt section.

Once I got home, I Googled the phenomenon and apparently my new friend was either legitimate or operating on the bleeding edge of auditory scams because I could find no references to his modus operandi. It appears that the most prevalent scams involving the deaf consist of a woman claiming to be a single mother going house to house selling alphabet flash cards. It appears that many of the hearing impaired carry business cards identifying themselves as such but not in an attempt to generate revenue.

I must admit, the idea of handing someone a business card in exchange for currency is somewhat enticing. I pondered which of my genetic predispositions would generate the most sympathies and how best to monetize them. Here are some ideas for my business cards:

Hello…I Am Socially Awkward at Funeral Visitations. Please Give Me A Quarter.
Hello...Myopia Prevents Me from Reading without My Glasses. Can I Borrow Your Car?
Hello…Many of My Skin Moles Have Worrisome Irregular Edges. May I Have Your Wedding Band?
Hello… I Subconsciously Project My Fears Onto Unrelated Situations Causing Irrevocable Damage to my Interpersonal Relationships. Are You Going to Finish That Sandwich? 
Hello…I Suffer from Gingivitis. Will You Loan Me $200

Perhaps this man’s story was legitimate and my dollar helped support a disadvantaged American struggling in these tough economic times. Either way, he could greatly increase his profit margin by forgoing the raised gold-leaf lettering and printing his cards on something other than Egyptian papyrus stock, but then again people might not pay as much for it. If nothing else, he probably has a future as a business card design consultant.


  1. "pictures of other people’s completed craft projects"..brilliant!

    I've encountered this man before at Books a Million, Brian, a few times actually.

    1. Exceptional MediocrityNovember 11, 2012 at 10:05 PM

      Is he actually deaf or is he playing the long con? This was the first time I had encountered him.

    2. I haven't been able to ascertain the truth behind this man either...the first time I gave him some money but declined the second time he approached me.

  2. The man is a parasite.

    Parasite: a person who lives at the expense of another or others without making any useful contribution or return


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