A Long Ride Home

accessible van running late
I deeply appreciate the service, but many days are like this; an endless and tiring journey.
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It’s three o’clock, and I’ve been waiting over thirty minutes for my ride. The wait seems endless as I peer out of the 2nd floor window of my doctor’s office. The receptionist offers to call Dial-A-Ride to inform them that I’m ready, but I told her it does not work that way. You can’t get a ride upon demand. I don’t want to stand outside the building because there is no bench for me to sit on, and there’s no restroom in the lobby.

My bladder cries for attention, so I must quickly use the bathroom. My stress rises because I could miss the van if it shows up while I’m in the ladies’ room. The driver is supposed to wait five minutes for me, but I’m afraid I’ll miss the van as has happened twice before. Unfortunately, someone’s in the bathroom, so I impatiently wait for them to exit. I become increasingly fidgety with each passing minute.

After using the restroom, I return to the waiting room and glance out the window again. Soon after, I spot the van across the street. The driver seems lost as he wanders from building to building. I rush out of the doctor’s office to catch an elevator to the ground floor. Then, I promptly go outside to wave and shout to the driver, but he does not see or hear me. The building is set back from the road, so he probably didn’t spot the street number. He continues to wander about. I can’t walk far due to a physical impairment, or I’d run after him. I sigh as he gives up and drives away.

I hastily search for my cell phone from my stuffed tote and call Dial-A-Ride to tell them what has happened. Still, no answer after several rings, and time is ticking by. Finally, an operator takes my call and says she will immediately contact the driver. She puts me on hold a while and then returns to the phone. “It’s too late,” she exclaims because he’s already on the highway. It’ll be about an hour before another driver arrives.

So, back to the office I go for another round of waiting. I inform the receptionist why I’ve returned. I sense she dislikes my hanging around there so long. It’s getting late, and soon her working day will end. I’m hungry since dinnertime is fast approaching. Eating is not allowed in the waiting room, so I have a quick snack standing in the hallway. I hope the van arrives before the office closes. If not, where will I wait? My feet are screaming from too much standing already, and I need to rest.

Eventually, the van arrives. This time, the driver finds the building. Back down the elevator I go to board. I frown as I notice only two available seats in the rear. It’s a bumpy ride back there. The rest of the van is reserved for passengers with wheelchairs.

I sit across from a woman I’ve ridden with before. I think she has schizophrenia, and apparently, she is happily engaged in a tea party. I can tell by the conversation she is having with her imaginary friends.

On occasion, she grabs quick glimpses of me. I smile and try to strike up conversation. It lasts but seconds until she’s back in her own little world. I don’t know her name, but I call her Lily. She seems sweet.

When the driver merges onto the highway, the ride is increasingly uncomfortable as the speed escalates. I am literally bouncing off the seat.

Not too much later, the driver heads to a parking lot to pick up a passenger at a medical building. We wait and wait for her, but she does not arrive. After nearly ten minutes, the driver decides to go into the building to find her. So, he locks the van and leaves me and Lily inside alone. I’m a bit concerned about not being able to exit since Lily is becoming restless. I think it’s because the heater is on too high, and the stuffiness is overwhelming. Soon, I too am restless, but I must remain calm for Lily. I want to escape. I want to break through the locked doors and be free. Lily has gotten up and is walking aimlessly around. My concern grows deeper. Finally, after seven minutes, the driver returns with the passenger.

Next, we pick up a woman in a wheelchair. The driver is a bit frustrated because the van’s lift isn’t working well. The client hopes that she can board. Another wait. We could be stuck there for a long time. I grow weary. Fortunately, after several attempts, the driver gets the lift to work. I hope it will also function when the woman needs to exit the van.

Finally, it’s my turn to be dropped off. The driver is taking a longer route than necessary. I know a shorter one, but he’s not allowed to use customers’ directions. I understand, so patiently succumb.

I spot my house around the curve. I cannot wait to get out of the van and step into my home. I say good-bye to Lily, but she’s still engrossed with her fictional friends. It’s been a long afternoon for all.

I can’t get the lock into my front door quick enough. Finally, with great relief, I step inside my house. Home at last. I plop my baggage and myself upon the sofa. I made it through another ride!  What would have been a ten-minute trip if I could have driven myself turned into hours between the waiting and long routes back.

Acquaintances have told me how lucky I am to be able to use the special needs Dial-A-Ride. They exclaim how it must be so much fun. Yes, sometimes the ride is enjoyable, and most drivers are very friendly. I deeply appreciate the service, but many days are like this; an endless and tiring journey.

So, tonight, I’ll sit back and enjoy the comfort of my home until I have to board again.

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