- Disabilities & the Disabled
Why Access-a-ride Transportation Means Freedom to Me.
I Get Around Because of Access-a-ride ....
Information I Needed!
I first learned about Access-A-Ride -- para-transit transportation -- in 2004. Someone my sister knew used it. The woman informed my sister she paid only $2.00 each way, and it's door to door service. I was stunned, and thought, Yo, I need that. "Can you get the number for me please?" I asked my sister.
"Thanks." I can not inform you about the rest of our conversation, because all I kept thinking was, I'm going to be able to go places .... I won't be stuck in this apartment .... I can visit people .... I can shop for anything .... Oh, yeah, I can go to my doctor's office now.
I know it sounds pitiful, but to me at that moment it was a heavenly visual I was seeing in my mind's eyes. It was my heaven on earth. I would have gotten up to dance in celebration, but I did not want to pass out. My health's not too cool. Plus, I was still speaking to my sister. So, that would have been rude.
Years before, when I was informed I could no longer work for health reasons, I actually cried. My father tried to console me, but it did not help. I kept thinking about all the overtime I would no longer be able to do. So his words, "It will be okay." was not going down well. My father hated my working over time. He thought as a young single woman with no children I did not need to work so hard. My answer would always be, "Momma needs a new pair of shoes Dad."
"Not funny kid."
I never ever thought I would be without a job due to illness, which is crazy, because my lungs collapsed on me when I was a baby .... I really should not have had most of the jobs I had to be honest, but working was all I knew and I loved it.
Without a job there is no more over time. I became depressed. I guess momma could no longer get a new pair of shoes ....
As the years progressed I became worse health wise. I also realized that fixed incomes are just that fixed. Going to the doctor's office cost money just to get there, and I had to return home. I just could not afford $6.00 each way. Once I was inside the doctor's office I had to make a co-payment. It cost $10.00 for my primary care doctor, and $20.00 for a specialist. I was ashamed I could not afford things that was no big deal to me when I worked. I would not even need over time for those tiny fees
My younger brother found out about my transportation dilemma from our mother, and he decided to call me and offer to take me to any appointments I had if I were to leave early in the morning before he went to work at the Barber shop he owned in Harlem, NY.
He took me to three doctor appointments. I was grateful, but uncomfortable with the situation. He had his own life, and I just thought it was wrong. Still, I knew my brother would not stop coming around to pick me up so I began pretending I was fine, and I did not need to see the doctor for anything other than a yearly physical. After I agreed to call him as soon as I needed him he stopped worrying.
Yeah, I am terrible, but I was not use to being helped out so much. It sucked. So after I learned of the Access-A-Ride transportation service I applied. When I qualified I was ecstatic.
My maiden trip was to my nephew's -- Zuri's -- middle school graduation. It was a warm sunny afternoon when I boarded the five passenger -- white with blue stripe and letterings -- bus. I could not see the driver -- through the tinted glass -- until he opened the doors. He greeted me with a warm smile as he asked my name. After I gave it I Slowly I boarded the bus with my cane.
I gave him my carfare of $2.00, and went to one of five available seats. After the driver confirmed with me that I was buckled into my seat we were off to Brooklyn.
I really do not remember much of our conversation. I just remember that he was pleasant, and I was just happy to be able to travel on my own.
I arrived at my sister's apartment in about an hours time. That to me was great timing. After a brief stay in my sister's apartment. All nine of us took two taxi car services to Brooklyn college. As we drove around to find the entrance I kept thinking, I could have met them here. Next time I will find out the address, and cross streets, and just meet up.
Before we walked into the courtyard of the school we were stopped by some outdoor merchants trying to sell some of the timely graduation gifts. The three adults -- myself included -- in our large group bought something for my nephew. My nephew had already went through the gates, because he had to go inside with the rest of his graduating class. So he did not witness our purchases.
As we walked past the gates of the court yard I thought how lovely it looked inside. My legs began hurting so I started looking for a place to sit. My gaze came across some benches, and I informed my sister. We all went straight to the benches. All nine of us took up three benches.
I did not expect him and he was stunned to see me. After my brother hugged me he asked,
"Hey, how you get here?"
"I took the Access-A-Ride bus."
"You've seen the white with blue strips ... buses ... right?"
"Yeah, but I thought they were for only medical appointments."
"Nah. It's for getting around period."
"Yo, that's cool. You like it?"
"Yeah. I can leave my apartment now."
"I'm happy for you sis."