When we left Daniese and Linda last time, they'd been off-loaded from the bus like sacks of potatoes. Daniese's chair was making bad noises. But the chair got fixed. The ADAPT protest happened. Now, to get back home ...
By Daniese McMullin-Powell
Linda and I had taken advantage of Greyhound's "2 for 1" special: We purchased our tickets four days ahead for our round trip, so it was "buy one, get one free." What a bargain! This is available to everyone now; it used to only be available to crips, "a special fare" so you could bring your own able-bodied gimp-grabber and they wouldn't have so much work.
Ironically, Linda and I had made our trip to Washington DC for a meeting between ADAPT organizers and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater. The meeting was to discuss setting regulations that would bring over-the-road buses (that's Greyhound) into full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act -- and to get Slater to require that Greyhound comply immediately with policies that do apply to them right now.
I took the opportunity to relate the experience of my horrendous bus trip to DC to the Secretary Slater. I issued a personal invitation to the Secretary to come on down to the terminal that afternoon so he could observe how the "Doggies doo-doo on us."
He accepted; as we left the meeting, he shook my hand and promised, "It will be better." I asked if he could do that by three o'clock that afternoon.
He sent two officials who were supposed to arrive unnoticed to observe the Dog's typical behavior to people using wheelchairs.
The officials arrived a half hour before we boarded the Hound. Both had big ol' chains around their necks (or were they choke collars?) with white 3" X 5" ID tags -- "D.O.T." printed on them in big red letters. So much for arriving unnoticed! The Hound had sniffed them out before I had a chance to tell them to "Put those things away and stop saying, 'Hi, I'm from the D.O.T.' "
When we presented ourselves for boarding this time, four gray uniforms and one security guard showed up. Then a miracle appeared -- the "chair thing": a seat to be strapped to and lifted onto the bus where a transference to the bus seat would take place.
As he placed a strap across my neck (Kinky!), the strapping man said, "Do you mind being touched?"
"I do mind being hanged by Greyhound!" I yelled, as I slid my hand up under the strap in self defense.
Would we ever get home? Would Ticket Woman be waiting for us with open arms?
We pulled into the Wilmington station. The driver disappeared. This time he came back with Trash Man, an elderly man with plastic bags hanging from his belt. (We'd met him earlier, in August, during our protest action at the terminal.)
Trash Man removed Linda first. A passenger a few seats back commented, "This was what people in Philly were protesting about last month!"
"Yeah, we were right here in Wilmington, protesting too," I said. "Greyhound is refusing to buy lift equipped buses. We could get off this bus with dignity in a matter of minutes and no one would get hurt; instead they're damage our chairs and our bodies and taking 20 minutes to do it."
"Yeah," said the passenger. "They need to do the right thing."
Trashman grabbed my arms. "Wait!" I yelled. "Has anyone here had any training from Greyhound to lift people?"
"No-o-o," said the driver.
"The people at the 800 number said you did," I replied.
The bus driver, Charlie, told me he'd worked for Greyhound 10 years, and had never had any such training. If they told me they trained drivers, he said, that was "an incorrect statement."
Trashman lost his grip twice. I have two bruises on my arms and body. The scooter needs work. Linda is a bit damaged.
We are waiting for the pictures my husband took of us coming off the bus to come back from the photo lab.
I called Greyhound's 800 number and filed a report with Glory (as in Hallelujah). She said she would send it to their "ADA Department" in Dallas and that I should get a phone call or letter "soon." Glory's last words were, "Thank you for choosing Greyhound."
We Will Ride!
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