Below is a compilation of short stories about transit woes and foibles from across the country.
Moses Parts the Light Rail Traffic
After a long day spent at OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute in Portland, Ore., I made my way to the downtown transit hub. I was catching the light rail to Beaverton, a 40-minute trip, to catch yet another light rail to connect with the regional bus that would take me back into Salem to catch another bus home. It does make for a long day, but I’m proud of my ability to travel independently. It was about 5:00. I was waiting at a platform when a man came up beside me and asked if I wanted some help boarding. I thanked him and commented, “I do this all the time.”
I heard the train approaching. As it pulled to a stop the man said, “Oh, there’s stairs.” I replied, “Oh shoot!” (I didn’t actually say “shoot.”) Some of the older cars have steep, tall steps, and during rush hour people pack them, but there are low-floor cars to the back. This gentleman said, “Grab my arm, we’re going to move!” We rushed toward the back of the train and he led me to the door of a packed car. As we got on he said, in a very loud, commanding voice, “I need a seat for this lady!!” Apparently, his name is Moses; the Red Sea of people parted, and I was led to a seat that was made available. As I was getting seated, I turned to thank him and realized that he was already gone. He was not waiting for the MAX, he was just offering me help. He is my proof of the generosity of the human spirit!
— Marja Byers
D.C.’s Finest Assist Writer
There was the time when I got lost trying to get to a D.C. hotel where I would be meeting people for dinner. When I asked for assistance from a couple of voices, sound ceased.
“How about we give you a ride?” a male voice suggested. And when I wasn’t sure, they said, “Relax, we’re policemen.”
So I got to the hotel in a police car, much to the amusement of those I would be having dinner with.
— Peter Altschul
The Carry-on Bag
When flying with a guide dog, it is always a good idea to pre-board. My teenage daughter and I hurried aboard and took our seats. My black Labrador, Gentry, was an experienced traveler by the time of the ACB convention in Tulsa. He dove into the row where our middle and window seats were located. He expertly wedged his front half under the seat of the row in front of the window seat. I removed my shoes, placing them in the seat pocket. I rested my stocking-clad feet on his back.
The stewardess came to check that we were properly buckled in before beginning the process of loading the rest of her passengers. All she could see was the black mass and what she mistook for a rolling suitcase handle under my feet. She asked if I would like her to place that bag in the overhead bin, since it was interfering with my foot space. I replied, “I doubt you could lift a 95-pound black Labrador up that high, and then it would be awkward to request that passengers be careful when opening the overhead bins, as the guide dog might have moved.”
It is true that traveling with a guide dog can pose logistical problems with weight restrictions on luggage, but a well-trained guide dog does fit along the fuselage, parallel to the wall, without infringing on other passengers’ leg room.
— DeAnna Quietwater Noriega
Only at an ACB Convention …
It was Saturday morning, July 13th. I had just checked out of the hotel and was waiting for the shuttle to get to the airport. I had asked about the shuttle when I checked out, and the lady at the front desk assured me that it was on the way. Half an hour later, I wasn’t so sure. People were grumbling about missing their flights and calling Lyft, Uber, and the local taxi service. I was standing next to Donna Seliger, who noticed all the hubbub. Moments later, she contacted Uber, and asked if I wanted to share the ride. I said sure. A few minutes later, a silver Camry pulled up. The driver got out, and he loaded Donna’s luggage in the trunk. My big purple suitcase ended up in the back seat with Donna, and I took the front seat. I noticed that both of us were having trouble understanding the driver. A moment later, it hit me: the driver was deaf! I’d noticed his hands moving as we got in, but it hadn’t registered until then.
As we got closer to the airport, I realized he’d need to know about our airlines. So I asked Donna which airline she was on, and she told me. About two minutes later, he asked the airline question. I was able to finger-spell the names of our airlines for him. We reached American first, and he started unloading Donna’s luggage. I caught his attention and said and signed “no,” shook my head and pointed at the car. He re-loaded Donna’s bags, grabbed my big suitcase and brought it over to me. I smiled and said thanks, and waved good-bye as the Uber continued down the road.
— Sharon Lovering