by Kevin Burton
Sometimes my commute to work is stress-free and extra-special on a Friday or a Monday.
Most Page 7 readers know I am legally blind and do not drive. To get to and from work I use a subsidized ride service offered by the county where I live.
Happy is the day when my favorite driver gets the assignment. She drives like a grandma and is very knowledgeable and pleasant. I know she actually is a grandma because she is my wife.
No Jeannette is not on the county payroll. But she picks up the slack when the county is unable to provide a ride. Burton Ride Service caters to a limited clientele, me, and the cats I guess on vet visits.
The “drives like a grandma” bit is not a complaint. To the contrary, it is high, high praise.
Sometimes when one of our friends drives us somewhere and apologizes for their driving, I say, “I’ve been to Mexico City, you can’t scare me.”
Well, that isn’t 100 percent true.
There are two kinds of drivers with the ride service, county employees and cab drivers when the county farms out the work. The county people are just great. Some of the vans are painted in garish colors but that’s the least of my worries.
Some of the cab drivers though would be comfortable in Mexico City, or in a chase scene from some movie. Some of them drive as if they have nothing to live for.
I’ll take my chances with Grandma J every time. Here are some of the advantages to Burton Ride Service:
Jeannette speaks fluent English. We communicate quite well when I am listening properly.
I don’t have to worry about Jeannette being late. She is right on time, all the time.
When Jeannette has the wheel, I can listen to parts of two Christian radio ministries on the radio, Love Worth Finding with the late Pastor Adrian Rogers and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah.
When Grandma J is on the job there might be Starbucks dark roast coffee involved and there might be coffee cake. This counts as an advantage even if I have to pay.
Jeannette never tailgates other drivers. True, my prayer life is enhanced greatly when I ride with some of the cab drivers, but I’m not counting that as an advantage.
You know what else is enhanced by my dealings with the cab company? My math skills. Maybe half the time when the cab is going to be late a dispatcher will call me and let me know. If I ask for an estimated time of arrival, I know that answer will be false, on a scale from a little fib to a whopper. I can usually double the time they tell me and be pretty close.
I used to be in the business of helping blind people find jobs. I have talked to blind people from all over the country. So I know that most blind people who don’t live in a major city don’t have any kind of affordable ride service that would get them to work.
So, I am grateful for what I have. Plus, the service I use has also reinstated another program so I can do other things, such as go to medical appointments, to the music studio or to visit my mother.
The best government-subsidized ride service I ever encountered was in the western part of Washington State. I lived one county west of the state capitol, Olympia in a hateful little town I won’t mention (Shelton). Several neighboring counties had their van services connected. I didn’t need to go too many places but the service was available. It was all paid for by excise taxes on gasoline.
That was a while ago. Don’t know if things are still that way.
The other great thing about my wife doing the driving on work days is that goodbye kiss. That is a reminder of why I want to work in the first place.