My logic for this post is that I’m 16, and so I can bloody well get on a train if I want to. The blind thing doesn’t matter, because disabled people travel on public transport all the time. What’s stopping me? NOTHING.
Except, well, if you’re me and if there are “unfortunate” circumstances. Let me explain.
Tomorrow, I’m going to the British Museum with my friend Red, because we’re history nerds. It’s also because we’re doing history for A-Level, and because we just want to go to a museum because why not? I asked my parents, they were fine with it, and then the topic of “how will you get there?” came up.
I pretty much said, straight up without asking, that I’d be getting the train. To my mother, who is notorious for not giving me independence, and she was absolutely cool with it which shocked me into the next century.
This was most likely because, when I went to visit L and the other bloggers, I vaguely travelled ‘independently’. Actually, it was more like L putting me on a train, travelling two stops with me, getting off and then me going the rest of the way – half an hour – on my own. My mum was more nervous than I was, mainly because they didn’t read out the announcements. I had to ask nobody in particular, “Which stop is this?” About three ladies replied, and I had a conversation with them, which ended with them getting the guard to come and help me when my stop arrived because they’d all got off before. It made me feel really happy and like I could do this, even though I wasn’t exactly travelling on my own. Oops.
Anyway, it’s made my mum more cerceptible to the idea of me doing shit. She’s still wary, and keeps on asking me what my plans are, but at least she’s not totally forbidding me from going. There’ll be many instances of “Hmmm, are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?” as she usually does.
I basically relied on L to be my lifeline here, because I’ve never done this before; I trust him not to get me accidentally injured. He gave me the number for the assistance people, which I’m VERY grateful for because I’m incapable of doing technology. And here’s where it gets interesting, because I actually had to do something myself.
The train company I travel with is a bit, err, shit at assistance compared to the others. Oh god I sound like such a train nerd! After a mixup of not knowing which number to ring, I rang both. Did they pick up? No. I spent fucking AGES waiting for the stupid hold music to stop playing, and got so frustrated that I hung up.
Can I just say that at this point, there was an hour until I thought they closed. So I was panicking, and shrieked at L to help me again. He gave me the number for another train company, which would still book it for me even though I wasn’t travelling with them (OMG that’s so cute of them!!!) I rang them up, expecting everything to go smoothly.
When do things EVER go smoothly with me and independence? The hold music (which I hummed along to) kept going, intthmingled with the patronising (We are experiencing a high rate of calls at the moment; we apologise for the inconvinience this may cause you) voice.
Someone picked up the phone. They said “Hello, what can I help you with?” and I immediately launched into my “IS IT POSSIBLE to book assistance?!” speech and it took me about five seconds to realise they were still talking.
You know the really awkward moment where people don’t know if the other is going to speak next? I spluttered, trying to figure out if he’d stopped speaking or not, whilst simultaneously drowning in mortification.
Me: So… Could I book some travel assistance please? I’m-
Him: Yes of course that’s fine. (A pause)
Me: Okay, great, could I-
Him (interrupting without realising): Actually… You can’t right now – I’m sorry. The system’s down, and it has been all afternoon; we’re quite worried about it.
Me: Erm… Okay, that’s fine. (I’m secretly panicking inside)
Him: If you call back first thing in the morning, you should be able to book it. I’m really sorry about this.
Me: Don’t worry! Thanks for the help – goodbye!
For about 15 minutes after that, I rang up the first train company again on both numbers, eventually yelling when they didn’t answer. In desperation, I called up the second train company. Again, the system was down, but they said they were open until 10, so I could call back at 8 PM.
If I’d known that before, it could have saved me a LOT less stress. I still have to explain to them that I’m not actually travelling with their company, but it should be okay.
The reason I left it so late was that I wasn’t sure what time I was coming home. A few minutes ago, I skyped Red and we talked through some plans – some of which were vague – but I should be getting the 4 o’clock train back. If everything goes according to “plan”, I should get through the day unscathed.
Oh thank fuck. I rang them back just now, and the woman that asked said that the system was still down all across the board. I’ll call them again tomorrow morning, and she said that would be fine.
I think I overestimate my ability to do things. Well, it’s my first time taking responsibility for my own travel – what do you expect! Part of me’s shouting that I should have done this years ago, but now’s a good enough time as any to start. Hmphhh, all the other blind people did it before – NO, that makes me sound like a child.
I’m honestly looking forward to tomorrow, because it’s a day out with a great friend which I probably need. I’ve been feeling quite trapped recently, so if I get out of the house, I think it’ll help me. It’s culminated in me shutting myself off this evening, not wanting to talk to anyone much because I’m so drained.
Wish me luck, guys. I know I can do this!
Are you doing anything interesting tomorrow?
From Elm 🙂