Friday was a very difficult day. It started out ordinarily enough, but then progressively got worse over the course of the day culminating in to full blown chaos. I normally handle chaos very well, but after a day of dealing with the folks I’ve dealt with, I simply didn’t need any more stress to add to the pile. All names are fake but describe the person.
First, let me tell you all about Captain Crazy. Captain Crazy lives with his mother, Mrs. Crazy, out in the boondocks. Mrs. Crazy is very unstable on her feet and prone to falling (she’s fallen before). She is also very elderly, and has a lot of medical problems. Captain Crazy cares for Mrs. Crazy, probably not by choice. I hauled them to the doctor about a month ago and Captain Crazy earned his name by shouting that he is going to sue the transit company and carried on and basically was loud and obnoxious the whole hour long ride. Captain Crazy even called his LAWYER while he was being transported. I fought the urge to slam on the brakes and send Captain Crazy sprawling. Anyhow, fast forward a few weeks and I hauled both again to the doctors, this time locally. I made it a point to be polite to Captain Crazy and ask HIM how he was doing. I supposed no one paid much attention to him and I assumed that he probably got “stuck” caring for his mother. He seemed to be more agreeable then. Then Friday, I ended up hauling him again, this time alone. HE was using his mother’s power chair, which seems to be permanently stuck on high speed! Whatever.
The second thing that aggravated me was the fact that I had to haul Mopey Mona. Mopey Mona is in a constantly depressed state and tends to repeat herself over and over and over again. She whines about every little problem that happens to her so much I want to just scream at her, “LOOK bitch, I’m working two jobs, and paying all my bills, my parents don’t live near me and I’ve pulled my big girl panties up and move on with life!”
The third thing that really frustrated me was the lift from hell. Often times our lifts need a little help working or they tend to break from over use every day. The bus I have been using during July, had a lift that had broken and had constant need of repair. Now the lift does go up and down but is temperamental when it folds up. Sometimes I had to do a voodoo dance, other times I had to stand on my head, and sometimes I would just give up and manually pump the stupid lift into the up position. Yay, SWEAT! I now call that lift the “wonder lift” because I wonder if its going to work!
Fourth thing that pissed me off was the Nursing Home from HELL! Hell exists, in the form of this nursing home. Hell Nursing Home (HNH) constantly calls transit for one thing or another, then consistently cancels or gets their dates messed up or never has the person who needs transport ready, and expects US to do THEIR jobs, like go and get the person who needs transport from their ROOMS, make sure that they have all their medical things and I think some people assume that WE accompany them into their doctors appointments! We. Don’t. Once HNH had a client they sent with me to their HEART MRI with NO escort. We were halfway there when I glanced at her paperwork and found out that she SHOULD have an escort. Instant abort of the mission.
HNH also schedules outings for very large groups, about half the people in wheelchairs and half are handicapped to the point they really shouldn’t be going out at all, upwards of 12 some odd people at a time. When we get there, HNH typically refuses to help the driver load and secure all the people. Think about it ONE driver, 12 limited functional people, its enough to make anyone go crazy. With a group THAT size, you need 1 (maybe 2) people INSIDE the bus to help the folks get settled (i.e. transfer from wheelchair to seat, fold wheelchairs etc), 1 person to operate the lift and help push people in, and 1 person to help load the lift from the ground. Wash, Rinse, and Repeat at destination. As drivers, we are not supposed to be pulling or pushing or straining ourselves far beyond getting a wheelchair set in the right place or simply buckling a seatbelt. First off, they aren’t OUR patients. We simply transport from point A to point B. If its one person for transport, the load is manageable, but more than one is impossible without help. Folks who cannot handle themselves, need to have escorts with them because we do not provide an escort service.
So back to Friday, I took a different bus with a lift out to HNH to pick up a huge group of people so I wouldn’t have to deal with the “wonder lift”. HNH had a PRN Nurse who helped me out loading and getting people situated, then she got to ride with them all the way to destination. She was absolutely wonderful, but the normal staff of HNH stood around looking dumb except for like one lady who would help load on to the bus. We get to the destination and go back for our second run after unloading everyone from the first run.
During the second run, the lift on the bus started acting up, stopping and starting and being very obnoxious. We get all the way out to the destination for a second time, with the one lady we couldn’t fit on the original trip, and lo and behold, the lift won’t work. I figure no problem; I’ll simply manually operate the lift, get the PRN Nurse back to HNH and simply go back and get another bus. I go to find the bar to manually operate the lift, and there is no bar. So now I’ve got a lady in a wheelchair that wont fit down the aisle so we cant take her out the front door, she cannot walk or get out of her wheelchair and we have to get her off the bus somehow. We grab two very kind and strong men and decide to lower/back her out the emergency back door. I turn the bus around and go to start going up the hill, and the bus will not make it up the hill and dies on me. I then notice the gauges are non responsive on the dashboard, the battery light is on the dash and nothing else is working on the bus. I’m able to back the bus into a parking space where I call bossman. Bossman comes out and tries to get the bus to work. He has me shut the bus off, and then try to restart the bus. It is now completely dead. He took me back to the yard where I picked up the bus with the wonder lift, because it was the largest bus available and headed back out to pick up the group. Wonder lift worked decently for the return trip although return trip I did not have the wonderful PRN Nurse and got bitched at by staff from HNH. The staff also seemingly stood by twiddling their thumbs looking at me like I had three heads when I repeatedly asked them to please help. Instead one of their CLIENTS (a patient with one leg) got up and offered to help. Yes, HE had the decency to see that I needed help with all these other clients, and was absolutely wonderful. When HNH staff saw that HE was helping, they immediately tried to tell him not to help, and he flat out said to them “Well YOU aren’t helping her!” I immediately loved the guy!
During my last trip, HNH staff lady had the nerve to ask me if OTHER places had to help drivers with their clientele. I flat out told her, YOU take a lot of people with you, and there is no way one person can do the job single handedly, so the answer is YES they do have to help. After all that, it was close to 11 pm at night, and I had been awake and working since 6:30 am, with limited breaks totaling maybe 2 hours. I was exhausted, frustrated, and all together seething at HNH. I hadn’t had the opportunity to eat much all day, so I treated myself to a decent dinner. Then I had to turn around and leave at 6:30 am on Saturday morning to work 7 more hours. I didn’t get a break till Saturday afternoon around 2 pm.
Today when I went in, I had to go back out to destination to pick up the dead bus. Maintenance came out and jumped the bus then we charged the battery just enough to get us back to the maintenance shop. I think it was the alternator that died on the bus causing the battery to run down. So, that, in a Nutshell, is what I’ve been dealing with all summer! I can’t wait for August 13!
The Bus Driver