Photo by George Schiavone
Blind folks run a little bit late just like sighted folks.
Yesterday I received an important call at 10:45 a.m. for which I had been waiting for 3 days. It was a productive call. It was 11:15 a.m. when I hung up.
My county transportation was scheduled to pick me up between 11:28 and 11:58 for my dentist appointment so I hopped like a bunny into the shower, hopped out with bunny-like intensity, and started dressing at an impressive clip. The doorbell rang and still in bunny mode, I opened the door and there was my driver announcing that he was here to pick me up. I told him I needed 5 minutes; he growled but said, “Ok.” I asked him what time he had and he replied, “11:31.” Stay with me on this one. I finished up, grabbed my dog and my backpack, and on my way out the door I punched the button on my talking watch and the voice announced, “It’s 11:36.” Yep, you’re one step ahead of me – he was gone.
When you rely on public transportation, you gotta make your reservation by 5 p.m. the day before you ride. No same day reservations. This does help you get organized but kills spontaneity. Like, you get a headache tonight and have no aspirin. You’re pooched for a day and a half before you can get to the aspirin store.
When you do make your reservation for the next day, Central Office Command gives you a half hour pickup window. This means that in a perfect world the driver will pick you up anytime within that window and deliver you to your destination on time. The driver is required to wait for you for 5 minutes from the time he arrives before he can leave without you.
The Facts Your Honor
My pickup window today was 11:28 to 11:58. The driver arrived at 11:28, rings my doorbell at 11:31. I say I’ll be out in 5 minutes. He says ok. I’m out at 11:36 and he’s gone.
The driver didn’t break any rule. He was allowed to leave at 11:33.
I called the county transportation company to have a meaningful conversation about the real world, The Golden Rule, and reasonable flexibility, which are generally meaningless except when you are adversely affected. I reached 3 different message machines of various official company people, all of whom say in their voice message that “we are committed to providing our best, nothing less.”
When a county rep called me back, I suggested that the company’s “best” needed some rehab and introduced the concept that “I’m not a PIN, I’m a person.” He appeared to listen, mentioned processes in the works to avoid problems like mine in the future, and wanted me to have a nice day. The last part was hard to do with a throbbing tooth.
There was actually one rule (besides The Golden One) that the driver did break. It was the rule that states: Be a standup guy and when you know a client is inside their house and is definitely coming out very very soon, don’t leave without them you big serious major-league a**hole.
When sighted folks run late, they hop into their car and take off. When blind folks run late, they go nowhere – stuck, stranded, grounded, trapped, marooned.
In all fairness, many drivers go that extra mile and bend the rules where they can be bent. But it always seems for that one real important appointment, you get that driver with GRIS (Golden Rule Impairment Syndrome).
When a company adopts a motto, they ought to take great care to see if it can be followed in the real world. Otherwise they start to look silly to their customers. This public transportation company is more accurately committed to: “The Best Most of the Time, Nothing Less We Hope.”
Getting around town without a car can be a bit inconvenient – hells bells, actually a lot inconvenient. Say you want to pick up some fish to cook for dinner tonight. Without a pal to schlep you to the nearby super market you're pooched.
Speaking of pooches, after 7 years living across a very busy street from Publix, I’m now attempting to cross it with Billy the Dog. He’s reliable. I’ve learned not to buy ice-cream when I take public transportation because they are too often late picking me up. But they’re allowed to be. Where’s the justice!