The kindness of a man and his car

Well here goes with another travel related moan. Although its not holey a moan.

I had to go out this morning. Mondays are my days for bereavement counselling at Mind in Croydon. So, I walked out the front door and bravely crossed the ice covered arctic waste that my front drive has become. Once I had reached the relative safety of the road and crossed to the other side, I started again to walk through the compacted ice, slipping and sliding as I went. My next door neighbour who was coming from the opposite direction, helpfully suggested that I might consider walking in the road as it was completely clear. Now, normally I wouldn’t do this, but given that my road is a one way street and usually completely empty I decided to break the rules and look after number one for a change. For once the cars could keep out of my way.

So, I successfully got to the end of my road, without breaking anything and proceeded down the hill, still remaining in the safety of the road. Once I got to the busy road, it was back on to the pavement and the skating rink, minus the skates.

I arrived at the bus stop at 9.35. I know this because I checked the time on my Trekker. My hands were already frozen as I can’t ware gloves, hold a cane and manipulate anything with fingers encased. So, I’m standing at the bus stop feeling cold and sorry for myself. Didn’t sleep very well last night either. I’m waiting and I’m waiting. 9.45 comes, then 9.55 and finally 10.00. A number of buses have come along in the meantime, but of course none of them are the one I want. Some stop directly in-front of me, meaning I only have to step forward to ask the driver which number he is. Others stop to my left and still others to my right, meaning I have to move a distance to find the door. Hardly helpful to someone who is blind. Oh yes, then there’s the occasion when I think I’m yelling through the open door, only to find I’ve been yelling through the side of the bus.

So, its now just after 10 and another bus comes along. We go through the usual performance, he tells me his number, I step away trying not to swear, he then asks me which bus I want and I tell him the 455. So, what does he then say? You’ve just missed it. I was on the verge of yelling, how the hell can I have missed it, I’ve been standing here at the bus stop. Luckily I controlled myself.

The point is the driver of the 455 which arrived at my stop just before 10.00 simply drove past without stopping. Now how the hell could he have managed that. I’m standing right beside the stop sign, I’m holding my cane in both hands vertically and I’m also holding my Freedom Pass in my hand. Loads of buses stopped for me, so why not this one.

I then rang Transport for London to find out when the next bus was due. Of course this particular bus isn’t tracked so they could only tell me when the next time tabled bus was due. And of course as I’m sure you will have worked out, time tabled and actual arrival are not the same thing at all. So, the next 455 was due at 10.20. It didn’t actually arrive until 10.26. The journey to Pampisford road takes around 22 minutes. That should have got me to Pampisford road for around 10.48, I’ve now lost 18 minutes of my 50 minute counselling cession. That’s not including the time it would take me to walk from the bus stop to Mind’s HQ.

I of course then go and make my day worse still by getting off the bus far too early and having to walk nearly half a mile on the most treacherous pavements I’ve ever tried to walk on.

I eventually reached a section of the pavement where some workmen were cutting trees and some fella stopped and offered me a lift. My immediate reaction was to say no, that long ago learned lesson about climbing in the back of a strangers car was well learned in my case. But, I squashed my reaction and accepted the lovely warm car that was on offer.

Well, he wasn’t an axe murderer as this entry testifies and I reached Mind at 11.05, just in time to have 15 minutes of counselling.

I gave up independence and came home in a taxi. That bus driver should feel thoroughly ashamed of himself. As soon as I got home I immediately rang TFL to complain and was given an apology. That’s nice of course, but I know that this is an all too frequent occurrence.

To that man who stopped and offered me his car, I don’t know your name, where you were from or anything else, but thanks for your kindness, it was really appreciated.

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2 Responses to The kindness of a man and his car

  1. Virginia Korleski says:

    Found it via the blind movie buffs group, I can understand your frustration, I too have used other types of transportation (Using my money to have someone take me were I need to go, its has gotten even more frustrating, now I have low vision, blind in one eye, the other eye is hit and miss, I have many issues with that eye, having a replacement lens in that eye has made it worst.

    I recall one time I got light blinded by a strobe light, I can tell if I bright light is going on/off, it temporary blinded me so bad that I end up leaning up on a arch of a store security arch, lucky for me a staff member saw me and help me get what I needed, along with making sure I got safty back to my bus stop.

  2. David Reynolds says:

    Yusuf, It isn’t just the frustration at a bus driver ignoring you, but the dent to your confidence. Having already had difficulty getting to the bus stop, you are already stressed. The councelling is important, and to have a bus drive by is at best demoralising. Glad you had the sense to get a taxi home, expensive I know, but needs must.

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