Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

Ride Refusal

| Filed under Guide dogs Uncategorized

I wanted to share a recent experience. It’s something that happens to guide dog handlers more often than we’d like to admit. It’s also something that I personally consider unnecessary and find the cultural stigma of some foreign populations attached to coming into contact with a service dog fearing uncleanliness frustrating, especially after recent statements from religious leaders that helping someone with a service dog is a good deed and outweighs the risk of saliva contact.

. Maybe this is ignorant on my part and maybe I should be more tolerant but when one has to face ignorance each and every day, when one must greet each day saying, “wow, I hope my disability is only a mild problem today,” it is even harder to find tolerance for others who claim not to want to help a person like me because of religious beliefs.

Ah, well, onto the story.

One morning in May, I called a local taxi company for an appointment. I called with extra time because I knew from prior incidents that I might need the time just in case the driver refused me due to my guide dog. I gave myself 45 minutes to go 3 miles in the same city. I told the dispatcher not to send me a driver who would refuse me, as I’d had the experience of being refused because of my dog once already and he was also the same dispatcher on the day it happened last year. He assured me he would send a driver who would not refuse me.

 

In a point of digression and fact, I do not need to disclose my disability to request the same service as my peers without a disability. By Federal law outlined in the ADA I am to receive equal access to all modes of public transportation with my service dog. It sure sounds good on paper, but in reality it’s a crap shoot with the taxi services and is a chronic problem with shared ride services like Uber and Lift. I disclosed because I thought it would avoid the possibility of a ride refusal.

 

Well, back to my story. I waited 15 minutes. He didn’t show. I called dispatch. He spoke to the driver while I was on the phone. Then, as luck had it, my friend got off the bus, came over and watched the whole situation unfold. I am grateful that fate and circumstance put a witness where I needed one. She told me the car number when the driver would not. She told me how he idled two blocks away when the dispatcher told him to come get me. She told me when the car came; he crept up to where c I stood as if he didn’t want me to notice he was there. She heard him say he e couldn’t take me because my dog was too big. And then, after the dispatcher told him he had to take me, he changed his excuse to, “I’m allergic, I can’t take her,”

 

By then I was mad and had to hold back from yelling at him to go back to his country because he isn’t helping anyone here.

 

I then called his boss, who called the police and the driver has since been issued a summons and is due to appear in court. This is his first summons, but, I wonder, will it be his last?

 

I am all for fighting the good fight and mostly step up and do my share. I do my best to be fair and unbiased. I am also getting burned out. I am tired of fighting, of the anxiety I feel when I call a taxi, knowing my chances of this happening again is a fifty-fifty shot. I wonder if it will ever get better. Since I don’t have a crystal ball and no friends named Nostradamus, I guess I will have to put on my big girl panties and suck it up. Drivers with road rage ain’t got nothin’ on me, in my world it’s called refusal rage. I am hoping it doesn’t happen again, but it will and I hope I can keep a lid on it and not resort to nasty language for next time. It really bothers me and I am ashamed when I lose control like that. I also wish there was a way to get these drivers to understand what it is like, have them walk in my shoes; maybe then attitudes will change for the better.

 

 

 

I wanted to share a recent experience. It’s something that happens to guide dog handlers more often than we’d like to admit. It’s also something that I personally consider unnecessary and find the cultural stigma of some foreign populations attached to coming into contact with a service dog fearing uncleanliness frustrating, especially after recent statements from religious leaders that helping someone with a service dog is a good deed and outweighs the risk of saliva contact.

. Maybe this is ignorant on my part and maybe I should be more tolerant but when one has to face ignorance each and every day, when one must greet each day saying, “wow, I hope my disability is only a mild problem today,” it is even harder to find tolerance for others who claim not to want to help a person like me because of religious beliefs.

Ah, well, onto the story.

One morning in May, I called a local taxi company for an appointment. I called with extra time because I knew from prior incidents that I might need the time just in case the driver refused me due to my guide dog. I gave myself 45 minutes to go 3 miles in the same city. I told the dispatcher not to send me a driver who would refuse me, as I’d had the experience of being refused because of my dog once already and he was also the same dispatcher on the day it happened last year. He assured me he would send a driver who would not refuse me.

 

In a point of digression and fact, I do not need to disclose my disability to request the same service as my peers without a disability. By Federal law outlined in the ADA I am to receive equal access to all modes of public transportation with my service dog. It sure sounds good on paper, but in reality it’s a crap shoot with the taxi services and is a chronic problem with shared ride services like Uber and Lift. I disclosed because I thought it would avoid the possibility of a ride refusal.

 

Well, back to my story. I waited 15 minutes. He didn’t show. I called dispatch. He spoke to the driver while I was on the phone. Then, as luck had it, my friend got off the bus, came over and watched the whole situation unfold. I am grateful that fate and circumstance put a witness where I needed one. She told me the car number when the driver would not. She told me how he idled two blocks away when the dispatcher told him to come get me. She told me when the car came; he crept up to where c I stood as if he didn’t want me to notice he was there. She heard him say he e couldn’t take me because my dog was too big. And then, after the dispatcher told him he had to take me, he changed his excuse to, “I’m allergic, I can’t take her,”

 

By then I was mad and had to hold back from yelling at him to go back to his country because he isn’t helping anyone here.

 

I then called his boss, who called the police and the driver has since been issued a summons and is due to appear in court. This is his first summons, but, I wonder, will it be his last?

 

I am all for fighting the good fight and mostly step up and do my share. I do my best to be fair and unbiased. I am also getting burned out. I am tired of fighting, of the anxiety I feel when I call a taxi, knowing my chances of this happening again is a fifty-fifty shot. I wonder if it will ever get better. Since I don’t have a crystal ball and no friends named Nostradamus, I guess I will have to put on my big girl panties and suck it up. Drivers with road rage ain’t got nothin’ on me, in my world it’s called refusal rage. I am hoping it doesn’t happen again, but it will and I hope I can keep a lid on it and not resort to nasty language for next time. It really bothers me and I am ashamed when I lose control like that. I also wish there was a way to get these drivers to understand what it is like, have them walk in my shoes; maybe then attitudes will change for the better.

 

 

 

 

 

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