In my last post, I talked about my difficulty with getting to the bar car on Amtrak while in a wheelchair. At this point in the trip I was pretty exhausted, and I probably drifted off to sleep. I say probably because one minute I was alone, and the next there was a hand on my shoulder and a voice asking, ” I am going to the bar car, can I get you anything?” The voice was coming from a fellow passenger. Hmmm surprising. Nice, but surprising. I said, “No, but thank you for asking.”
I was lost in thought about the seemingly selfless gesture when he returned and asked if I minded if he sat and talked. I responded, “No, not at all. Thank you again for your offer to get something for me.” He seemed nice enough. We chatted for maybe 15 mins about where we were from and where we were going. It turns out that we were both going to Holland. My phone rang, and I excused myself from the conversation saying that I needed to take the call. We both said, “goodbye, enjoy your trip.”
The phone call was from my father. “Are you still alive?”, he asked. I told him that I had learned a lot so far, but I was exhausted and would send a text when I made it to the hotel.
Random stranger guy came back again, and AGAIN,each time sitting closer and closer to my seat offering to do more and more for me. “My brother is picking me up from the train station, we can throw your wheelchair in the back of the truck and take you to your hotel”. “Are you sure I can’t bring you something from the bar car?” Then the touching began. I didn’t say anything about the first brush across my knee. I assumed accident. Then he placed his hand there and didn’t move it, until I did.
EXCUSE ME?!?! “I think we are done talking! I have told you that I have a boyfriend and don’t feel that I have encouraged this in any way, you should go back to your seat now.” He gave me an expression that made me uncomfortable, but stood to walk away. Before leaving he said, “well at least let me help you off the train in Holland.” I growled, “No, thank you, I’ve got this!”
I have never been more grateful for the ability to use my legs. Have you ever found yourself in a position that you wanted to leave, but physically could not get out of? How would you protect yourself if you were confined to a wheelchair? What had I gotten myself into? What was the train station in Holland going to be like? Indoor? outdoor? Would there be ample lighting? What if the Lyft driver wasn’t there when I got there? Do you remember my post about, SOS Messaging? I mistakenly thought that it was available on all phones. I’ve gotten a new phone since I dropped mine in the toilet in Italy, and LG phones do not have this feature. 😦
I called Thing One and told her about my dilemma. We agreed that she would stay on the phone with me from the time I got off the train until I was safely in the LYFT car. I debated with myself about whether or not to involve the conductor, until random guy walked by AGAIN. “See you in Holland”.
No more debate, I stood up and walked to the Bar Car to find the conductor. ” I don’t know if he thinks its funny or what, but one of the other passengers has had a lot to drink and is starting to give me the creeps. We are both getting off in Holland. Can you please tell me when we are like 15 mins away so I can call my ride? Also I would still like to use the lift to get off to buy myself some more time.” Before heading back to my seat, I grabbed 3 cups of coffee.
For the last hour of the train ride either the conductor or the junior conductor walked through the car I was in every 10 or 15 mins. As promised, 15 minutes before we were scheduled to arrive in Holland, the conductor said it was time to request my ride. The Lyft app said the driver was 20 minutes away. 😦 Deep breath Grace you got this.
When the train arrived in the station, I hesitated to move until I saw the conductors setting up the LIFT. Drunk guy was no where in sight, and I could see the lift driver standing by his car. I told the conductor I felt confident that I would be fine, apologized for being any trouble, and thanked him for his help.
As the Lyft driver was loading my wheelchair into his trunk, I could see drunk guy approaching quickly. I said, ” I don’t know him, he is NOT with me, can we go?!?! Before he could get in the car, drunk guy said, “You be sure you take care of my friend”. Harmless enough, but please Let’s go!!!!!!
I confirmed the hotel address with the driver, and quickly called Thing One to tell her I was ok and to ask her to text my dad. When I hung up, the driver asked, “rough night?” I replied, “Yeah, you could say that, and I have to be on the train again at 6:30 in the morning.” 😦 He asked, “Are you using Lyft to get to the station tomorrow?” I responded, “Yes, it’s the only thing I could find as far as transportation.” He advised me to start requesting a ride at least an hour before I had to be there. Most Lyft drivers were from Grand Rapids (1/2 hour away) like himself, and I might have trouble finding a ride that early….. Oh yay.
When I arrived at the hotel, I put my bag on the wheelchair and headed for the smoker’s bench. The desk clerk, Brent, was outside vaping. I told him I was “the late check in”, but needed to “chill” for a few before going in. I reached into my bag for my phone, but it wasn’t there. Oh No! You have got to be kidding me!!!!!! Brent let me use his phone to call mine and even walked with me around the area I was dropped off at in the parking lot. No luck…. SON OF A …….!!!!!!!
I hoped I remembered to print all of my ticket information, but if I didn’t it was all on my phone. I was sure I left it in the Lyft driver’s car, but how would I reach him? I spent the next 2.5 hours trying to retrieve it….smh Did I mention it was 12 o’clock in the morning?!
Before I tell that story, I would like to ask for your opinion. I asked earlier “Have you ever found yourself in a position that you wanted to leave, but physically could not get out of?” Were you able to keep your composure? How do you protect yourself if you have a physical disability?
The drunk guy was probably just that. He was probably a nice guy even. I think I had stronger emotions because I was out of my element so to speak. Or maybe I under reacted? If you would please take a minute to share your opinion/experiences with me.