Posted by: sistermom1 | November 9, 2011

Metro Access

I received a photo ID to use the Metro Access system today.  It is a “…shared ride service for people who are unable to use fixed-route public transit due to disability.”  To be honest, it felt heavy and even a bit embarassing.  This is nothing I ever expected to need, although I have observed the buses pick up and drop off people at locations throughout the region over the years.  Some time ago, there was some negative press in our area about the system and the behavior of the drivers, but many people have told me that the service has improved dramatically since those reports.

In the hospital, I met a lovely woman who uses Metro Access successfully every day to get from her home in a suburban county to the city for her job.  She has had a chronic condition somewhat like MS for over 15 years, and has worked hard to have the full, active and happy life that she has.  We spoke about many things while she visited her mother, who was my roommate in the hospital.  It was a true benefit to meet her and her family, and through her I learned a great deal about many of the services available to me and how to use them.

Although I was happy to be deemed eligible to use this system, I did not celebrate it.  The day I was interviewed, I was picked up and brought to the main office.  The weather was beautiful, and the driver was friendly and talkative.  Our ride there was smooth and uneventful.  We picked up several people who have used the system regularly and who had only positive things to share.

At the office I met a very nice young man who would determine my eligibility to ride the system.  This included weighing me and my wheelchair to make sure that the combined weight is no more than 600 pounds. (Whew!  came under that limit!)  After a brief interview, I was approved and he took my picture (awful!) and I was done.  Another driver showed up to take me home, which was another easy and comfortable ride.  The whole thing did take 3 hours, so I was exhausted when I got home, but it was the first time in many months that I went somewhere without being accompanied by either my husband, family, or close friends.

A few days after my interview, I spoke with a friend, who turned my attitude around 180 degrees.  Her reaction when she heard about my being deemed eligible to use Metro Access was happy, excited, and enthusiastically supportive.  She expressed such pleasure about what we would now be able to do, it took me by surprise and really shook me to my core.  I thought — Maybe I should be thinking differently about the whole thing.  Was I missing something major?  Was this actually a good thing?  I could now make plans and meet friends at the mall or at a restaurant, or even for high tea (which I have always loved!)  I could now plan to attend the MS support group that I have not been able to get to for months because it is at a time that is inconvenient for everyone who could take me.  I can now get to the doctor, Hair Cuttery and Nail Club on my own.  Truth be told, this really was a blessing!

When I have given them a chance, my friends have been really helpful to me in so many ways.  Because of “M”‘s words, I was able to get out of my own head and enjoy the blessing that I have been given.  I thank her for turning my entire perspective around.  To the readers of this blog, I look forward to seeing you around town.  Don’t forget to wave when you see a Metro Access van!

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