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Just to Clarify

February 18, 2010

Over that last few weeks I’ve posted a couple of times and immediately after hitting “publish” or soon there after, I’ve wished I had elaborated a bit more about one thing or another. I suspect I am not unique on this, but I’m going to use todays post to clear up just a couple of things.

In the posts about my job situation, one may have been left with the impression that I did not have any post secondary education at all, or perhaps only a few credits. In fact I graduated from college.  In high school I was in all the advanced courses and even took several grade 13 courses in grade 12. (this was back when there was a grade 13, I think it was equivalent to  first year university) But then I slipped into a bit of a depression. I dropped out of most of my grade 13 courses and did not complete grade 13. My useless guidance counselor, not recognizing that something might be going on with an “A” student that suddenly starts dropping courses, strongly suggested I go to college.  I have issues with this, huge ones. Mainly, he clearly had no experience with disability and should have involved someone who did. The biggest problem is that I was disabled in 1985. Anyway, as for college, I enjoyed it. The program was no cake walk. I took Electronics Engineering Technician.  It was, as you might expect, all math and sciences. Algebra, Calculus, physics. If you couldn’t handle the math, your were done. Around 95 students started in the program only 16 of us graduated. That diploma got me hired three different times, one of which was a 6 year stint at Bell Canada before the downsizing. So there are no regrets there. But in hindsight, I sometimes wish I had a University degree, because if nothing else, it opens doors. If I had the time and/or financial freedom, I would go get one now.

And on my last post, I hope I didn’t give the impression that I would only ride the bus as a last resort. In fact I think more of us should us public transportation whenever possible. The environment would thank us.  But as a person in a wheelchair, it just doesn’t work well.

When I decided to buy my van, Transit Windsor had no accessible buses. In fact Windsor didn’t even have accessible taxis. The ONLY way for someone in a wheelchair to get around was to use Handi-Transit. (for those not local, it’s a disabled transportation service) I could spend hours telling you horror stories.  The arrogance of the managers of the service permeates the entire organization. Except for a few wonderful drivers, everything about relying on this service was pure hell. You had no choice but to use them, and that’s exactly how you were treated. I lived less than 15 minutes from where I worked, but was put on a morning run where I was the first one on, and then we picked up several kids going to school before finally getting to my office. This meant getting on the bus at 7:15 so I could get to the office around 8:05, even though I didn’t start until 8:30. I had learned from experience that you do not complain. The more you complained the more ways they found to make your life hell. It was routine for me to be on the bus 45 minutes to an hour on my way home as well.  And this was for rides to and from work, scheduled months in advance.  It was even worse if you tried to book something short notice. The rule was two weeks advanced booking. Have you ever tried to think of everywhere you will want to go two weeks in advance?  With my fathers advancing medical condition, it was suggested that we get him on the riders list for Handi-Transit, should he ever need to use them. I called the office to get an application, hoping beyond hope that things might have changed in the 8 years or so since I last dialed that number. Sadly they have not. Not one bit. The same arrogance on the phone, the same palpable disdain for clients. No, not clients, passengers. They never treated anyone as a client. After a couple of minutes I explained that I was a former rider and that I was just curious who was managing now. “I’m sorry sir, I’m not allowed to give you that information”  I just said “alright” and hung up, but ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? It’s a publicly funded non-profit.  I just wanted a first name. She acted like I asked for the combination to the safe.  Well, I found it, it’s  on the web.  Lori Colenutt, General Manager. There, was that so hard? So why wouldn’t she tell me? Because, it’s the same way they have always been. They make things difficult. So when I said in my last post that I didn’t want to rely on public transportation, this is what I was talking about.

Also, it’s just not a practical option for me. One thing I didn’t mention in my last post is that the bus stop was about 6 blocks from where I needed to be.  Due to unshoveled sidewalks and  snow mounds blocking curb cuts, it meant that I traveled most of those 6 blocks in my wheelchair on the roadway, dodging cars and trucks.  That’s a far cry from parking right across the street from my destination when I drive there myself.  So, for me, a van provides practicality and a freedom which I hope I never have to do without.

LED #6: A slow day today. I am having a really hard time thinking of anything new that I may have learned. The only thing that comes to mind comes courtesy of my friend Violet. She loves Beaver soft drinks. I had never heard of them so I went to the web site. It sound delicious. I don’t really drink pop, but on occasion I have been known to crave a cola or root beer. And certainly an all-natural Canadian made product is worth having on hand for when I do.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2010 2:49 pm

    all very interesting…thanks for the clarifications and additions to prior posts.
    Oy Vey about the bus company people.
    Shame on them.
    It’s very eye opening to be made aware of these ordeals and struggles.
    It certainly makes me angry, wanting to write a letter of protest, and teaches me new things!

  2. kittykillkill permalink
    February 20, 2010 3:31 pm

    There was no doubt in my mind that you are highly educated and intelligent so that thought didn’t even cross my mind. Thank you for the clarification though.

  3. February 23, 2010 10:46 am

    I think my post got deleted by me and my silly laptop. 😛 Anyway, I use ramps or the handicap buttons to get in and out of places with the stroller and am shocked at how few places have this or their attempt is half-assed (like the parking garage has handicap parking near the elevator but the door to get to the elevator isn’t automated so you have to be able to open that door…and forget parking on the roof in winter!). I was also surpised that a progressive city like Vancouver didn’t seem very accessible; in that regard I think Windsor was better!?!

  4. Blessed to be out of that mess! permalink
    February 23, 2010 10:06 pm

    I’m sorry to hear Handi-Transit treated you that way, unfortunately I know this behaviour all to well. I was employed there for 8 months up until last month when I took a voluntary layoff. I really enjoyed the part of the job where I was able to help people to use the service, but it was the daily stress of the office staff that wore on me quick.

    I was paid salary and expected to work through my lunch and past my shift, I didn’t mind helping with the phones if it was busy but it began to become expected daily and when I did take lunch outside of the office when I returned there was tension, it was after noticing this that everything was made more difficult for me to perform the job.

    I was put under a magnifying glass and every detail was documented. The General Manager is controlling to the point she took my pencil away because “I printed to large & pressed to hard” and replaced it with a mechanical pencil.

    In regards to your post I’d just like to mention it’s not only the passengers that are treated this way it’s some of the staff too. Its unfortunate that the staff is intimidated by the General Manager and choose not to take these issues to someone of more authority within the company or to the head of the union, then maybe the board would look into making some necessary changes that could result in better service for the people using it as well as a more relaxed working environment for staff.

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