I used to go all over the place on my own when I was younger. In recent years having settled down in one place, made friends, gotten older, and gotten married, I increasingly rely on others to get me where I need to go. This is a wonderful blessing, but it has been bothering me a little lately. I have begun to feel a little trapped. I find myself resentful of the limitations others have seemingly placed on me. The truth is they’ve done nothing but help me. If I feel confined, it is my own fault. I’m forgetting how to manage on my own, and I can’t afford to let that happen. One never knows what the future will hold. I’m grateful for the life I have now, but circumstances change. People move away, get sick, or just don’t’ have time anymore. I need the exercise both physically and mentally of getting out and doing things for myself.
Thus it was that I began my little misadventure yesterday. It doesn’t feel right to label the experience that way. Overall I enjoyed it. I did make my destination and had a great time while there. It was just the traveling that didn’t go so well.
My destination was the Plano chapter of Blind Ambitions Groups. It’s a local support group that meets once a month in various locations around the Dallas area. My wife and I attended the Dallas meeting one time and found out about the Plano group, which we also made just one time. Things never seemed to work out for us to go back. I had looked into going by myself before, but using the DART (local bus service) site to plot the route made it look more difficult to get to than going to the Dallas meeting that is much further away.
I don’t remember what made me try it on Google Maps. It might have been simply the discovery that the service is better than DART’s own for plotting a trip by public transit. I should note that at last check the site had accessibility issues. They have a more accessible version, but it seemed to lack the most helpful features. It could be I didn’t spend enough time looking. I just fall back on ZoomText and use the regular site. Recently they have even included walking directions so that you know how to travel between the bus or train stop and your destination. This was my first time to try them out. I’ll tell more on that shortly.
The trip started out well enough. I got on the same bus to the train station that I take when I go down town for work. The driver saw my white cane and wanted to be sure I knew I didn’t have to pay the full fair. I almost always pay full fair. It is partly because I have never taken the time to go get the ID card that would officially qualify me, and partly because I have never liked to take handouts I don’t really need. It is a reasonable argument that whatever I think about subsidies they do exist and my taxes are paying for them, but it just never feels right. For the same reason I have not tried to get myself onto the paratransit service, for which my qualification is questionable based on my proximity to a bus line.
Things started to go south when I made it to the train station. Literally, I took the south bound train instead of the north bound train I needed to be on. Don’t ask me why. There is no confusion as to where to get on each train, so I can only blame myself for that one. I realized my error as the doors closed behind me and the train pulled away from the station. I had to get off at the next stop and wait for the one going back north, costing me a valuable ten minutes or more. The north bound train was standing room only and the operator did not announce the stops as they are supposed to do when no automated system is in place. Maybe he or she wasn’t aware that the system wasn’t working. I made it to the down town Plano stop without further incident, asking my fellow passengers for help.
Then I needed to get from the station to the church where the meeting was held. That should be no problem, right? I have my trusty Google Maps walking directions. The trouble is that they were a little misleading. They may have been technically accurate, but they left me the impression that one street would curve and become another when in fact what confronted me looked like a standard intersection. Maybe J Avenue ended at a right angle there, but I was confused. In an instant my internal map was shredded and I didn’t know where to go. I knew the general lay of the land and thought I knew where some of the major streets were, but I could not find most of the signs using my monocular. After a bit of wandering around and a conversation with a friendly apartment dweller, I made my way to 15th street where the church is located and got to the meeting about thirty minutes late.
I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting. Amazingly or maybe not so amazingly listening to how the order process kept being interrupted by random conversation, the planned meal had not been ordered yet. It was a very small group, but I like that. The larger the group the more isolated I feel. I made new friends and got to know another one a little better.
When the meeting was over, I had to get back home. I had no problem getting back to the train station. I got an earlier train than the one I planned for, so when I got off I thought I could walk the approximately two miles from the train station to my house before the next bus would get me there.
I suppose I might have learned from the first experience that relying on what Google told me might not be the best idea, especially since it was starting to get dark. No, how hard can it be? All I had to do was make it down to Arapaho and go over to Custer. Yes, there is a major highway between me and my destination, but I’ve handled that before. I didn’t foresee any major difficulty in doing it last night.
Maybe in the full light of day I might have seen a better way to get across the on and off ramps to Central Expressway and continue my journey home, but what happened instead is that I made it under the bridge and then realized that I was in a very bad position. There is a large area of concrete off the road where I was standing, but in the failing light it was hard to be certain that I wasn’t in the road. Between me and safety was the off ramp to the highway and anyone making that turn would not have been able to see me and stop before hitting me. I could not see around the concrete wall to attempt crossing the exit before a car would come flying down the ramp. Getting into that situation wasn’t easy, and when I went back to see if I could retrace my steps to the bus station I realized I was in no better position on the other side.
After a couple of unnerving false starts, I saw that I was in trouble. I just stood there looking around and hoping some kind soul would rescue me. I started holding my cane up over my head, but I was not in a good place for anyone to stop if they were of a mind to. They probably thought I was begging. I finally managed to swallow my pride, and not knowing what else to do, I called 911. I might have called my wife or other friends in the area, but I didn’t know if I could tell them how to safely get to me. So it was that I finish my trek in a police car. At least I wasn’t in the back. Thank you Sergeant Holly. I don’t think I’ll be trying that again.
To cap off this fine evening and explain what walking on water has to do with anything, I entered my house to find that our water heater began leaking while I was out. Linda had everything in hand, and I was just glad to be safely home. My first thought was to rejoice, because the One who really walks on water has reached out His hand and pulled us up. I’m ready for next time, but I think I’ll wait for the bus.