Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter - Dr Martin Luther King, Jr
Thank you for visiting Terry Chasteen's
Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT..
On April 22nd, 2006, due to an all-too-common irresponsible Washington DC motorist, I was personally moved from the ranks of being an able-bodied Ballroom dance teacher to one who in an instant became disabled after having been side-swiped and knocked forward face down into a rain-soaked cross walk by said motorist who was making a blind left turn. My right foot, which was extended behind me and upside down on the pavement, was then run over by the vehicle's back tire. As might be expected, the pain of having one's foot run over upside down and backwards by a several thousand pound out-of-control murder weapon was truely excruciating; even for me who has a very high pain threshold (probably due to all of those well-deserved whippin's that I received as a child...). After what seemed like an eternity for the ambulance to get me into treatment at GW Hospital, it was soon determined that I now had 4 broken metatarsals of my right foot. Not good for a Ballroom, Latin and Swing dance teacher.
Though the pain and inconvenience of such an incident was surely an unwelcome experience, I have to add that my true frustration was just beginning. That frustration was the result of a continuing blatant and unbelievable lack of consideration and respect for those who are already having a rough time at life due to their disabilities. To me this was the most eye-opening experience that I could ever have imagined and to be honest, becoming an accident victim almost made it worthwhile to make me understand the struggles of these people, as rediculous as that must sound. Which is actually why I have started this web site. I could write a book after only 2 months of being in a wheelchair and having to navigate myself around this city from the way the disabled are disregarded by too many in the public transportation system as well as by others and especially other Metro riders and motorists (usually irresponsible cell phone users while they're driving...another hot button of mine...we don't even want to go there...my next project is www.StopAllCellPhoneDriving.org, which I already have purchased the domain name for. And I do mean ALL cell phone use; not just texting, not just those handhelds without ear phones...they are ALL distractions that can cost someone else their life...which is usually not the person behind the wheel, in most cases. Those people are protected by this huge hunk of metal armor with their insurance paid...so why should they feel any major concern? I am amazed every single day at how people drive around in these several thousand pound murder weapons while continually being distracted by yacking away on the phone which is more important than the innocent lives that many of them end up snuffing out in an instant. Then of course just like the guy who ran into me, "I'm so sorry". Well the families and loved ones of those who are dead or severely injured are sorry too. They're sorry that more people don't take seriously the responsibility that is bestowed upon them when they get behind a steering wheel. OK, I'll quit on that....but only for now. I'll save the rest for www.StopAllCellPhoneDriving.org). After this experience of only a few months in a wheelchair, I can't imagine what those who are handicapped for 365 days per year and year-after-year must endure.
I personally had in a mere 2 months been slammed in the Metro train doors with my wheelchair scooter stuck halfway in and halfway out on three different occasions without the operators even looking; or perhaps they did look and just wanted someone to torture that day (during one incident, 3 times I was slammed one right after another within less than 30 seconds. Yes he DID get a major piece of my mind in full volume when I finally made it to that little red button at the back of the train car that enables you to speak to the train operator...and to the complete horror of all of the passengers around me, I might add. All of whom were probably sure that this insane, red-faced and seemingly out-of-control handicapped person would next pull out a gun and start firing it at random). I have been dropped off at Metro stations where the elevator was out of order more times than I ever care to remember, instead of the train and/or bus operators announcing them in advance to avoid that incredible waste of my time of having to go back to wait for another ride. The excuse was always that "We have so many things to be informed of each day at the beginning of our shift that there's not enough time to inform bus operators of elevator outages on top of it (yes each driver has probably a maximum of 3 or 4 Metro elevators on their routes at the very most, and probably one or an absolute maximum of two would be out at once. And in this day and age with today's technology, informing the operarors and the handicapped public of such an inconvenience is truly an insurmointable task...especially when those in charge of the situation don't really give a damn).
That doesn't cover the countless times that the wheelchair hydrolic systems of many of the buses were, to the surprise of the operators, out of order. Shouldn't checking things like that before a bus goes out be SOP (standard operating procedure...remnants of my military training days) to avoid another incredible waste of time for a handicapped person? Once again an oversight either of the operators or the management, but I am positive that as many inoperable wheelchair lifts that I incurred didn't happen between the garage and my stop. Someone was not checking their equipment and someone else was not checking up on them.
I have also wasted countless hours going down into the
Metro system by elevator only to find that the mezanaine elevator is out so
that access all the way to train level was impossible. Forcing me to now waste
even more time to go back up to street level and wait for another bus to take
me to the next Metro station; when all they had to do was either (1) inform
the bus driver ahead of time who could in turn inform me or (2) put a sign
on the upper level elevator door so we wouldn't waste all of that time using
it in case we hadn't taken a bus, or even better yet (3) both of the above.
How much time would that honestly take, putting up a sign and informing the
bus operator ahead of time, relative to the tremendous amont of wasted time
that each hanicapped person lost in one day alone, without it? It would be
so minimal it should never have even been a consideration.
After I even asked the bus operator on one occasion...yes I actually asked him ahead of time, only to be told "Well I guess the elevator is working...no one told me any differently". Well it wasn't, and after starting out almost 45 minutes early on that morning to get to my first appointment, I ended up almost 30 minutes late. All of this is obviously a blatant management oversight on the part of Metro, whether for lack of training or for lack of concern...neither of which is excusable. I was left by two bus drivers on two separate occasions in only two months who after loading over 20 or more pedestrians into the bus turned to tell me that the bus is now too full for my wheelchair and that I'd have to wait for the next bus. These are all shortcomings that I made suggestions to be changed over and over to Metro station managers only to often be treated as though I was just being a trouble-maker. On one occasion at the Friendship Heights Jennifer Street station the kiosk attendant went off on me about making a make-shift upper level sign for the elevator door that the mazanaine elevator below was out so that the handicapped could then go to the opposite entrance at the same station without wasting any time at all. That attendant demanded in no uncertain terms that I quit harrasing him and trying to cause unecessary trouble. Well his trouble had just begun by the time I sent in my scathing report to the complaint department, plus my trouble-making days for the powers-that-be who were either not properly training these people or who just didn't care were just about to begin.
Now before I go one step farther, I need to clarify that 95% or more of these people are the most professional, attentive and helpful individuals in the world in assisting those who are disabled or having difficulty. Most of the bus drivers were actually incredibly helpful and attentive with the amount of information that was provided to them. It really wasn't their fault if those upstairs in management didn't care enough to supply that information. These drivers always insisted that pedestrians first allow the wheelchairs and those using crutches or elderly would load first so that the rest could fill in around them. That other 3 to 5%, however who really have no interest in bothering with accomodating the disabled or anyone else are the ones who can make the lives of most disabled Americans an absolute nightmare. And they need to be either fired or stuck in an isolated warehouse somewhere where they won't have to deal with or even see the public.
My purpose for starting this web site is to invite those who have similar horror stories to email in their experiences so that this incredible lack of consideration for the disabled will someday come to a screeching halt. Experiences which also might ultimately make a trip to an upcoming Metro board of directors meeting highly in order.
I hope to be including more of my own personal experiences
as time permits (there are definitely many more of them to be included), but
in the meantime, if you have horror stories of your own, please email them
to TerryChasteen@PleaseDanceWithMe.com to be considered for posting. Soon
I also need to take the time (what time?!...) to learn how to install one
of those blogs like Blog Spot, etc and let everyone just vent their frustrations
on it so it can be used as evidence. This is all about time, including the
tremendous amount of time of those who are handicapped that is wasted unecessarily
when it would take so little time to avoid it. It is also about the time that
all of those who are shirking their responsibilities toward the disabled need
to start making (and this may just as well include some...not necessarily
all... but some of those in management who sit in those air conditioned offices
making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year without a clue of what is
really going on in the trenches. Again I'm not saying ALL, but someone up
there is responsible for this and from only there will the changes come).
Managers in these companies need to drop the over-exagerated board meetings once in awhile and just go out and rent a wheel chair for a day or two and see what the real world is like for those who are already hindered in their journeys through this difficult journry of life. I guarantee that like mine was, it would without any doubt become an eye-opening experience.
...But then that is just MY OPINION...
(For more of my own personal unwarranted and sometimes contraversial opinions, visit my absolute MOST OPINIONATED web page, "Nobody asked for my opinion...BUT..." at www.DanceDirt.com (www.DanceGossip.com), the web site of DanceSport gossip... and much more (which also includes excerpts from some of my favorite and sometimes rediculous [but still humorous, nonetheless] mini-photo galleries...)
When we deprive the equal rights of one,
we threaten the equal rights of everyone - Dr Martin Luther King, Jr
(which includes fair and equal treatment and consideration of the handicapped)
MANY MORE INNOCENT AMERICANS MUST DIE
OR BECOME SERIOUSLY INJURED BEFORE WE
STOP ALL CELL PHONE DRIVING
IN THE US?
Not one of the 60,000+ deaths or 250,000+ injuries in 2008 resulting from texting and talking on the phone is worth any one of those phone calls or text messages; not to mention the hundreds of thousands that have taken place since. This is not a teenager problem nor is it just a commercial truck or bus driver problem. This is a problem and an ongoing danger to innocent people that involves EVERY SINGLE DRIVER in this country on a daily basis. So why are we still pondering over the use of cell phones while driving in the US? DC and several states have already wisely and responsibly outlawed the use of all cell phones while driving and now it needs to be a national restriction. Are we going to continue allowing the lobbyists of the wealthy phone companies to rule congress in America (which is now going to be even worse since the US Supreme Court has removed campaign finance restrictions instead of strengthening them), or are we each going to stand up to the plate and do something about it?
Please commit to making any automobile
that you're riding in an official
to learn how you can help
to eliminate this deadly obsession from America's highways. Keep in mind
that the next life that is lost (and there will be MANY of them before we stop this
irresponsible practice) could easily be your life or the life of someone you love.
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