Paratransit

Here’s a cartoon I recall from my sighted days.  On the side of a bus, a banner reads “Manic-Depressive Bus Tours.”  Pressed against each bus window is a gleeful face or a sorrowful face.  This is my vision as the paratransit van rolls to a stop in front of my house.

“You and your guide dog sit anywhere you like,” the driver says to me.  “There’s only but one other rider—a young lady in the back in a wheelchair.”

As Randy and I settle in, a gentle female voice says, “Your dog is beautiful.  I just have a little dog.  He’s in my lap.  He’s my companion dog.”

“Pleased to meet you, miss,” I say.  “This is our first trip on paratransit.  We usually take the public routes.”

“I used to ride the bus, but no more.  I need too much help nowadays,” she says.

We settle into comfortable silence.  At her stop, she calls, “’Bye mister.  ‘Bye Randy.”  The driver opens the double doors and lowers the lift.  “Forward now,” he says.  The motorized chair whirs and clicks.  “A little left.”  The chair whirs and clicks again.

“Oh, my,” says the young lady.  “I’m stuck.”

“Just a little back,” says the driver.  Whir.  “Now left.”  Click.  “Now forward.”  Whir, thump, whir.

“Away we go!” shouts the young lady.  “See you next week, George.  Thanks ever so much.”

George climbs back into the driver’s seat.  “She just needs a little extra care,” he says.  “Sorry for the delay.”

I think of that cartoon.  I think of all the horror stories I’ve been told about paratransit.  “Thank you, George,” I call.  Then, as much to myself as to George, “If I can’t be patient for someone who needs more help than me, how can I ask for patience for myself?”

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