Monday, 23 March 2015
BUSY DAY AT DIAL-A-RIDE
For those who do not know, I drive one day a week for our local Dial-a-Ride bus service. We have 1200 members now and are getting busier ~ the service is a life line for local people unable to get to and from GPs, Dentists, Opticians, Shopping or even visiting friends . . . plus many other reasons to use us.
As an ex-ambulance man I love the work because I see it as an extension to my previous job and the work is very similar at times. I am always able to help a few folk during my day's work on Monday.
Today was a very busy day which I just loved and fortunately I had rather some challenging situations to deal with which made the day more interesting.
I was driving a vehicle, affectionately called Diana, a five seater plus wheelchair facility if required.
Here it is so you get some idea ~ a little like the pope mobile on my last post, only bigger.
. . . and here is the rear view, showing the ramp and wheelchair fitting area, but no wheelchair was used today. What you can see is a folded four wheel zimmer trolley, very useful to steady the wobbly.
During the morning I was scheduled to pick up two elderly ladies from a nearby town and take them to the bus stop at our Post Office, about 6 miles away. I picked them up, seated them in the vehicle and said I needed to pick up an elderly gentleman and his dog and take him to a park just before their bus stop. They said, ok, and we chatted on the way ~ I know them very well. We arrived at the gentleman's house and out he stepped, very wobbly, with a huge Golden Labrador dog, which made a beeline for me and almost knocked me off my feet, much to everyone's amusement, including mine. Anyway, I got hold of the lead and walked the dog behind his master up the drive towards the vehicle. I could see that the gentleman was quite incapable of controlling such a powerful dog. Previously I had taken him out a few times, minus dog, and had to help him in and out of the vehicle, so I was very surprised he had opted for such a solo adventure. Anyway, the immediate idea was to get the Labrador into the back of the vehicle up the ramp so he could be seated or lie down just behind his master.
He would not go in, try as we would, in spite of all our encouragement and persuasion. The owner said he would travel in the back with him and I said that was totally illegal because passengers have to be seated with a seat belt. So for plan B. I asked one of the ladies if she would kindly move along the bench seats so the owner and the dog could fit in. She was quite ok about it but even with him sitting in the middle the dog would not go in . . .
With a lot of coaxing the dog did eventually climb into the vehicle but there was insufficient room for him and his tail was sticking out where I needed to shut the door and his 'derrier' was in the way too. Reluctantly I had to ask the lady to move again into the front between me and the other lady, which she did with considerable dexterity for one aged 83. Fortunately she saw the funny side of things, along with the other lady, but they were both looking at their watches and getting anxious about their timetable. The guy moved over and I pushed the dog in quickly. We got to the park and I got the dog out first and held his lead and he pulled so hard I had to go with him a few steps. Then I got the old boy out and gave him the dog who immediately pulled so hard he did a 360 degree spin and then just had to let go but fortunately the dog came back when he called him. Reluctantly I had to leave him because there were passengers to attend to. I drove the ladies to the bus stop and dropped them off. They were quite amused by it all. I did hear later than the old guy plus dog were successfully picked up from the park for the return journey by a larger bus, as scheduled, but the driver had to chase after the dog to retrieve it. Maybe it was a Golden Retriever.
A little later I picked up a blind man I know who goes shopping on Monday afternoons. I used to know Ray's blind wife as well and often saw them out walking in town together holding hands and using their white canes with their other hands.
Unfortunately Ray lost his wife four years ago and now lives alone but does so remarkably well. We have something in common since I lost my Maria two years ago next month.
I was talking with him and told him the story of the blind man guiding me on my journey when I was in the ambulance service, as told last week, HERE for those who missed it. Ray said he can relate to that and does the same on the bus when he travels from Bristol but if he falls asleep he is lost and has to ask someone. I said, "You know Keynsham well Ray, don't you? Any idea where we are now? He said yes and he told me and he was right on the button.
I dropped him off at the supermarket, got a trolley for him and helped him to the customer service desk and they arranged for a very nice lady to accompany and help him with his shopping. I was able to stay with him until she came. She looked at me and said she would look after him. An hour later I picked him up and took him home and once he knew where he was in relation to the railings leading to his flat he was ok to pull his trolley after him, but using his stick to guide him home. I find it all remarkable ~ I do admire that guy.
Next time, back to the ambulance stories I think.