A Day in the Life of Bonnie Webber Continued
But I needed to stay focused on my job, which was to ensure their safety and see that these little balls of energy stayed seated. Transporting up to nine children at one time I had to be creative. This usually involved singing songs together. For five miles we sang the ABCâ€™s, The Wheels on the Bus, and any other song I could think of.
I came to understand how unique each child was and how important it was to be sensitive to their needs. I discovered the significance of making eye contact and giving the children clear instructions. It was always better to â€śASKâ€ť the children to sit in their seats verses â€śtellingâ€ť them to sit down. Being mindful of these things set a positive mood for our ride together.
Itâ€™s now 7:00 am, my coffee is gone and Iâ€™ve reflected on those early days the entire drive to work. Now it is time to focus on today. Iâ€™ll do my pre-inspection of the vehicle; gas, oil, wipers,wheelchair lift, check. I always pause when I inspect the wheelchair lift. Learning how to transport a person in a wheelchair was HUGE for me and is a big part of what I do today.
Penquis provided training to better prepare me for the job. Probably the most powerful lessons came from getting in a wheelchair and learning firsthand what it felt like to be transported in one. I experienced what it felt like to be buckled in by someone else and transported by a driver I barely knew. I realized how little control I had, how vulnerable I felt. I was aware that my safety was completely dependent on the driver. If he accelerated too fast or stopped too quickly, I would be jerked either backward or forward and I got this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, wondering if my chair was secure.
That ride was unforgettable. Because of it, I am sensitive to how it feels when someone comes into your personal space to buckle you in. I know what it feels like to give control of your safety to someone else and I know that the driverâ€™s skills really influence how safe a person feels.
Well, I have my driving log for the day. My first stop is for â€śRachelâ€ť, an 11 year old girl with cerebral palsy. She is being transported to her day program. My second customer is â€śRickâ€ť; Iâ€™d guess he is in his late 40â€™s. He suffered a brain injury from a motorcycle accident and today he is doing some errands. My last customer is â€śMargretâ€ť; she just turned 68 a couple of weeks ago. Today she is going for dialysis treatment.
When I get to Rachelâ€™s house she is usually outside waiting for me with her mom, today was no exception. They both start waving and smiling at me before I pull up. Her mom helps her in and I close the van door. Her mom always stays in the driveway until I pull away to give that final send-off wave.
Born with cerebral palsy, a wheelchair is all Rachel has ever known yet she always has a big smile and a positive can-do attitude. That level of acceptance doesnâ€™t come as easily for those who are in a wheelchair because of a tragic injury. My next customer, Rick is an example of this. His acceptance has come in time.
A motorcycle accident left him confined to a wheelchair, feeling angry and depressed. I witnessed first-hand as he wrestled with his limitations, while trying to learn new ways of doing things. But over time he started focusing less on his disability and more on his abilities. Today he is shopping for a birthday card for his son, going to the bank and getting some groceries.
While Rick is doing his errands, Iâ€™m off to pick up â€śMargretâ€ť from her dialysis treatment. It is a hot summer day but I shut off my air conditioning to warm up the van. I did a little research on dialysis and I discovered people can feel run down and REALLY cold after dialysis treatment. So a small thing I can do is adjust the temperature of the van so she can feel more comfortable. I know Margret appreciates it. She looked really tired today when she got in the van.
Before I know it, it is late afternoon and my day is almost done. A young woman on her cell phone doesnâ€™t see me and she pulls out right in front of me. In my 17 years of driving for the Lynx, I see a difference on the road; there is a noticeable level of distraction and stress out there. Drivers used to wait patiently, smile or nod but today they honk, scowl and zoom past me.
Iâ€™m retiring my vehicle for the day. Iâ€™ve made my final safety inspection and scanned the vehicle for items left behind. I have found my share of purses, lunchboxes and mittens on this job. Today the only thing I find is a tassel of yarn that must have fallen off of the handmade blanket Margret had draped over her shoulders. She has that blanket with her every time. Iâ€™ve often wondered who made it for her.
Iâ€™m in my own car now and headed home thinking about my day. Rick, the gentleman that got in a motorcycle accident, said something really nice to me before he got out of the van. He stopped to show me the birthday card he picked out for his son. He said, â€śThanks for getting me out today. Being able to pick out my own card for my sonâ€™s birthday makes me feel like a normal guy, doing normal everyday things again.â€ť
Over the years Iâ€™ve realized my job helps people, who would otherwise be homebound, participate in everyday normal activities! My job as a Lynx Driver makes it possible for people to go grocery shopping, go to school and get to medical appointments.
And itâ€™s more than giving â€śpeopleâ€ť rides. It is making sure Margret is warm enough after her treatment and that Rachelâ€™s mom gets that final wave in before I pull away. Itâ€™s respecting Rickâ€™s sense of pride when I buckle him in. It is reminding the little ones to tie their shoes and take their lunches, and, perhaps most important, itâ€™s learning at least 5 miles worth of childrenâ€™s songs.
Tomorrow the adventure begins again. Her name is Shirley, she is 60 years old and taking her first class at Husson University. Iâ€™ll make sure she has a safe and smooth ride and gets there in plenty of time to maneuver her wheelchair to her classroom.
Iâ€™m thankful for my job and the customers that have touched my life. I sincerely feel that I have found my niche as a Lynx Driver!
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