Monday, December 12, 2011

My wheelchair teaches me patience.

When I first got to Gainesville some of the buses used by the local transit system were older and it was more difficult to board them with a manual chair like mine. The model was called Orion, it had a drawbidge style ramp that had a lock from the outside and a steep incline. Not only were they hard for me to get on but for the driver to operate. They had to push the door in to turn the key and then move the lift around to get it to work. I could see that some drivers struggled with this. Other buses also caused problems- sometimes the ramp wouldn't come out, although on some occasions the drivers didn't know how to operate it. I saw them struggle; On some nights I wasn't in  a hurry but sometimes I was. When I didn't simply have to be somewhere soon, I would say, It's OK, I can wait for the next one. I believe we should all be considerate and understanding and it was not that terribly important to get somewhere. It was my choice not to ride because I was being kind. Some drivers got so used to the idea that I would just let them go that they were just passing me without stopping. Because in their minds I was just sitting on a bus stop  with nowhere to be and I had all the time in the world. Where would I go? All I was left with is waiting.

And it happens even now, I want to say as recent as a week ago that a driver decides that he can't get the lift out without even trying. I don't think he even called it in and the reason why he couldn't get it to work is because he didn't know how to turn the power on. The upsetting bit is not that he didn't know something or that it didn't work, it's the idea that it's OK to leave me behind because you're on a schedule. Using the mass transit over the years have taught me a lot of patience. Sometimes I missed the bus, nothing I do when that happened. Sometimes the bus was late or too crowded to take me or the lift wouldn't come out. My friends would just get tired of waiting and hop on a bike to be there faster. That was never my option. Having to wait for a bus not because I chose to or had nothing to do taught me a deal about patience. Because getting upset or frustrated or irritated would not get me there any sooner. And I really don't want other people to have the power over my mood or how my day is going. I'll get there when I get there, not by choice, but it's my choice how I'll let it affect me.

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