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This has not been a week when I feel like being particularly thankful.

Saturday I got informed by Dial-A-Ride that I had canceled too many times in the past month to close to pickup time, so they were sending me a warning letter. I scheduled 12 trips. According to them, I canceled 17% of the trips, which according to my calculator is 2.04 trips.

By my estimate, yes, I canceled twice, both times because I was sick (throwing up on one occasion), lacked stamina and was unsteady on my feet. I have virtually no immune system, as my lymphatic system does not work. So I'm susceptible to germs, and tend to get very sick very suddenly. I can be seemingly healthy one day and violently ill the next. This is not something I can change at will. I wish to God that I could.

Now, I called as soon as the DAR office opened at 8:30. (Officially, it opens at 8, but no one picks up the phones before 8:30.) I promise you that. But since my appointments were for 9:30...well, DAR has now decreed that they want more than two hours warning before a cancellation or it counts to against you. Aparently the good and the virtuous thing to do is to spread germs around and expose my already compromised immune system to MORE germs when I'm ill. Because, y'know, it's not like that could make others sick or make me worse.

I dread to think of what is going to happen in the winter when I make an appointment one day and it snows heavily during the night. What the hell do I do if I can't make it down my hilly driveway without slipping? DAR doesn't want sudden cancellations. They've made that VERY clear. And my cane and walker do not mix well with snow, sleet or ice.

Oh, and penalizing the old, the sick and the disabled for BEING old, sick and/or disabled and therefore having sudden health crises? According to the letter itself, this is a brand new policy instituted in October 2010.

Naturally, DAR did not deign to do any mail-outs informing people that the new policy was in force. There was a meeting in October to which "clients" of DAR could come. They announced the policy at the meeting. Those of us who were not at that meeting were shit out of luck. Why bother informing us until one of us breaks the rule we didn't know existed?

This is how it works. If you cancel or are a no-show for more than 10% of your rides for that month, you get the following reactions:

First offense in a rolling 12-month period -- Warning letter.
Second offense in a rolling 12-month period -- Suspended from using DAR for 7 days.
Third offense in a rolling 12-month period -- Suspended from using DAR for 14 days.
Fourth offense in a rolling 12-month period-- Suspended from using DAR for 21 days.
Fifth and subsequent offenses in a rolling 12-month period -- Suspended from using DAR for 28 days.

This would be far less irksome if I had not been marooned at the library on Sunday by--who else? DAR. Now, I was watching for the van from quarter of three on. It never came. So around 3:04 p.m., I called DAR to find out where the van was.

I was informed that the driver had shown up at 2:44 and had waited for me until 2:54.

This is a goddamned lie.

I was watching and waiting for the van anxiously, as I always do. IT NEVER CAME. In fact, nothing even resembling the van arrived. I saw nothing but cars, cars and more cars.

When I pointed out to the dispatcher that yes, I'd been waiting for the van and I'd hardly be calling to find out where it was if I had seen it, he got quite coldly angry and told me that the driver had BEEN there, and it was my fault that I hadn't shown up. He then told me that he'd TRY to get me another ride--making it clear that this was a matter of charity on his part, which I did not deserve.

I told him not to bother, I'd walk home. This seemed more logical to me at the time. DAR has already proven that it could not be relied upon; this was just its latest offense. However, I did know where I was. And I knew that I could make it home...if I was willing to pay the penalty of a couple of days in pain.

I was just furious enough to do what I said. The trip was 2.4 miles. My legs are STILL mad at me. But it was satisfying to just be able to say, "Screw you!" for once.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
violet_tigress1
Nov. 23rd, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
Bastards! I stopped using Dial A Ride way back when they became something you had to sign up & qualify for, on top of expecting 24 hour advanced notice. God forbid your plans fall through, as many people's do at the last minute.
gehayi
Nov. 23rd, 2010 07:57 pm (UTC)
They've got you coming and going where I live--the state is divided up in territories, and different companies get different towns. I live in a town where, if you do not live in a nursing home--pardon me, convalescent home--or senior housing and you are disabled, then your only option is DAR. You can quit using them, but unless you have an alternative form of transportation after that, you're screwed.

The people who run DAR in my state know this, and are arrogant pricks.
kittenmommy
Nov. 23rd, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)

Bastards!

I have nothing to add but, "THIS". I'm sorry they were so sucktacular, OP!
leora
Nov. 23rd, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
I never used the local area disabled-only call for a ride program because of rules like this. You have to schedule well in advance, and you get badly penalized if you cancel. Since I am very much of the good days and bad days and no predictability sort of disabled, what good does that do? Plus, how do I schedule well in advance for something like groceries? How do I know how long I'll be at the store? And if I have to sit around at the store with my groceries, losing energy while I wait, that isn't very helpful.

So, while they get to say they have this nifty service for the disabled, it actually looked remarkably useless to me. Sure, it's better than absolutely nothing. And you could use it to get to a doctor's appointment... but not back. Which is better than nothing for some people, I suppose. But it's hardly disability-friendly.

I think it's mostly there so that able bodied people can feel good about themselves and say that they set up a service to help the disabled without doing the difficult things the disabled would really need.
court9
Nov. 23rd, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
I would rephrase "I think it's mostly there so that able bodied people can feel good about themselves and say that they set up a service to help the disabled without doing the difficult things the disabled would really need." as

I think it's mostly there so that the agency to say that they have a service TO COMPLY WITH THE LETTER OF THE LAW, without doing the difficult things the disabled would really need to make the program work in practice. :(
leora
Nov. 23rd, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
That could be. I don't know the laws in these matters. But if so, I think the laws were written that way so able-bodied people could pretend they were helping, feel good about themselves, and not have to do the hard work of writing laws that would really help.
court9
Nov. 23rd, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
Agreed .

I think for most Public Transit systems, at least in the US, are required by the ADA to have some sort of special para-transit for disabled people. But why spend the money actually helping people when you could implement a sub-par system that is so discouraging, the people who need it can't use it.
wombathouse
Nov. 30th, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)
THIS.
codeman38
Aug. 7th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
I never used the local area disabled-only call for a ride program because of rules like this.

Same here. I was actually eligible for the paratransit service locally due to distance from the nearest bus stop served on weekends, but I don't think I used it even once because my executive functioning is so screwy I often have no idea when I'll even be ready, much less how long the errand will take.

(Also, my auditory processing disorder doesn't help matters on that front either! Of course there was no e-mail form-- it had to be done by phone. Granted, the transit center actually knew how to answer relay calls...but still, why go through relay when I could just contact them directly?)
wombathouse
Nov. 30th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
Sucksters need to suck less.

Any possibility of taxi scrip?

In Seattle, one can apply for the right to purchase taxi scrip at 50% discount. Thus able to use taxis at will for half price and avoid public services apparently primarily in the business of increasing the stupidity aggregate.
gehayi
Nov. 30th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)
There's no taxi scrip around here. If you want to use a taxi, you must pay out of pocket. Oh, and the minimum charge for a taxi ride is twenty dollars.
codeman38
Aug. 7th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC)
The taxi scrip thing is an amazing idea; I'd heard about other towns doing that, and thought it just seemed so logical. I wish my town did that!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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