Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Transportation tribulations, cont.

Tomorrow I need to go to The Ride headquarters in Charlestown to get reauthorized for continued use of the service. Tomorrow's date on my calendar has arrows going in a square to chart my pickups and departures. Here is the description of the population that The Ride serves.

THE RIDE paratransit service provides door-to door, shared-ride transportation to eligible people who cannot use fixed-route transit (bus, subway, trolley) all or some of the time because of a physical, cognitive or mental disability. THE RIDE is operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
I'm not sure how I fit into this category. Do I need to bring the cane that I still have from the bad old days when I could barely walk?
Well if Hannah from the Dana-Farber resources office got me qualified to begin with, I assume that all I need to do is supply my doctor's contact info and explain the situation: two times a week for photopheresis, a problem with driving myself to and from Boston because I get so tired, resulting in not having a car to get to my overnight and being too tired (and dragging a suitcase) to use the T.

Frankly I didn't even know I had to the headquarters. I realized I had to reauthorize before June 5, but I was surprised when I called the day before and the call taker asked me when I was coming in for my appointment. I said I couldn't do it, I was in South Hadley, and she said, "Well you can't use The Ride after tomorrow."

After talking to Hannah, I called back and got a nicer woman who said she would give me an extension and get me a ride to the appointment. It went like so: pickup in South Hadley at 9:30 a.m. from the prescription transport service that takes me to Boston and brings me back, then The Ride picks me up at Dana-Farber, takes me to Charlestown for a 1 to 2 p.m. interview, and then brings me back to Dana-Farber for my 3 p.m. photopheresis.

When I called The Ride to confirm, the person who answered said she had no record of any of these trips. She said to call headquarters, which I did without getting through to a real person. After none of the options, 1, 2, or 3 were applicable, I pressed 0 and the annoying lady said in her too-cheerful voice, "Goodbye."

Hanna called for me and said it was all straightened out. I'd say this took about an hour when I could have been doing something other than screaming at dial tones when I got kicked out. Imagine the frustration of someone who is mentally in need of the service. get a message the night before with your pickup times. Last night I got mine: 12:15 p.m. pickup at Dana-Farber to get to Charlestown at 1, which is fine, and 2:50 p.m. to get to Dana-Farber, which is not fine, seeing as how it takes 20 minutes without traffic.

When I called National Express, the cab service that scheduled these trips, a Kafka-esque conversation ensued. The man I talked to said The Ride had put me in for a 2:30 pickup, and the closest available was 2:50. I have figured out that you can't specify your pickup time, just your delivery time, and I said could he please work it backwards and change the time so I can get back to 450 Brookline Ave. at 3.

No, he could not, only someone from the Ride headquarters can do it because they set it up. Apparently they make the rule so they can break it. He said to call them in the morning, which will be difficult, because by the time I get through it will be time to get picked up. And if it won't work out and I have to cancel the appointment, I don't want to be heading to Boston and find out I have more than three hours to kill before ECP.

I emailed Hannah to tell her of this new development and hopefully she can work it out on my behalf in the morning.

Making the arrangements is more draining that having your blood removed and recycled for three hours at a time.

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