Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Using lame in the context of disabled, not completely 100% ok, or in my case really not ok, using transit can be quite the adventure. Just to review, I have a few things going on. I have my bad leg, from my "tragic bowling accident" in 2008. My knee doesn’t bend right, the leg is weak, it’s the primary reason I use a cane. I have Meniere’s disease, so I have a balance disorder that makes me more likely to fall down, be unable to stand on a moving bus, and makes me hard of hearing. I now have peripheral neuropathy which causes gait issues, lack of good balance, pain, and sensitivity. I’m a damn mess, it’s true. I’m also fat, which is not a disability but does tend to complicate the things that are, as well as complicating how I am perceived.*
This week has been a little different. I’ve been driving to a local park and ride since I have my car while my daughter house- and pet- sits for various family. The drivers are not accustomed to me, and that is fine. Tuesday and Wednesday, the same driver came and both times I asked him to lower the bus so I could actually get my leg in. (the low floor buses are very high, paradoxically, for stepping into. Most other types, I don’t need to have the bus lowered, but the low floor, every time unless I’m on a curb.) Both times, this dude started lowering the bus, as soon as my foot hit the step, he started raising it again, not very safe, but hey, I’m in and ok. Why leave it down for the rest of the passengers, right? Thursday, he again pulled right up and opened the door. I was a little exasperated. I said “ You’re going to make me ask every time, aren’t you?” He very defensively said “WHAT???” I said “Could you please lower the step.” He yelled, “Hey lady, give me a break, it’s early in the morning, I didn’t even see who was getting on the bus.” I shook my head and sat down. This guy is a jerk. He drives like a jerk. He doesn’t look to see who is getting on the bus? Sure hope there’s not an axe murderer there at the stop one day. It’s common sense to look at who is boarding, as a former driver I know you ALWAYS look because you want to know what’s coming. You want to know how many people are waiting and what kind of mood they’re in. So the “didn’t see who was getting on” thing is 100% bullshit. Dude was being defensive because I called him on being an asshole.
Now, not all drivers are like this. I'd say most of them are at least decent and some of them are awesome. Just like any other walk of life. But the ones who are like this? They are the ones that make our lives harder and even bordering on hazardous. They're responsible for our safety, and they are abrogating that responsibility.
I’m not the only PWD (person with a disability) who rides that bus and he is equally assholey to all of us. For instance, there’s a woman who gets on later than me who has serious trouble walking due to a hip replacement and he knows this because she rides every day. He will not wait for her to sit down. If she asked, he probably would, but you know what? It gets old. Part of it is this.
Part of it is just getting sick and tired, over and over, asking people to accommodate you. Reminding the world and yourself that you are deviating from the norm. It gets old.
It’s not asking a lot for a bus driver to see someone old, someone with a cane, someone who has demonstrated problems ambulating because they ride your bus every day, and be a little bit considerate to them. To make it easier for them to step up. To make sure they have a seat. To make sure they are seated before you gun the gas pedal. Like Melissa says-
“It is important to recognize that "forgetting" disability is a common unconsciously or consciously deployed strategy of people and places that are unable or unwilling to compassionately interact with people with disabilities and meaningfully respond to our needs.”
Port Authority of Allegheny County trains their staff in the Americans with Disabilities act. Perhaps the training is minimal. Perhaps some drivers just don’t give a shit. Perhaps the training needs a component of awareness, like trying to board a bus when your knee doesn’t bend, or trying to stand while you are having balance issues or vertigo, or trying to walk on a moving bus while your hip feels like you have a metal spike jamming into it, or having your shoe lined with razor sharp carpet tacks while you try to step up into a bus. Back in the day, they used to make them navigate a bus trip blindfolded, but they probably don’t have the budget for that these days. I’m not asking for them to do that, just to be more aware, more considerate, put themselves in my Birkenstocks for a week and see what it’s like to have to ask over and over again. “Could you please put the step down?”
*I’ve been called a fatass under a driver’s breath. I am indeed a fatass, I admit that and even embrace it most times. But it’s not my fat ass that keeps me from getting my leg onto that step, it’s the nerve damage, the titanium, the scar tissue, the swelling that does that.