On The Road Again

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

I am doing it! I am going get into the nitty gritty! I am buying a car! While I will still continue to use Special Transportation Service (STS) until I get the car and modify it to suit my needs, I will share with all of you my journey into the CAR ZONE!

I have been using Special Transportation Service (STS) for 15 years during that time I drove for about four of those years. I probably would still be driving except that my poor beloved Volvo died after Tropical Storm Irene five or six years ago.

Getting a car the first time around was the biggest headache on earth. My father bought me a cavalier and my mother didn’t think it was safe enough for me and Vocational Rehabilitation wouldn’t pay to put the chair topper on that car.

Finally, my mom bought me a Volvo. It wasn’t totally mine. I had to share it with my mom but it felt great to pick up my friends or do errands without having to wait on someone.

I would use Special Transportation Service for everything that was preplanned. It is a great program. Although it has its flaws, I think it one of the best programs to receive a better quality of life for people with disabilities. Without STS, thousands of people with disabilities would be unable to attend work, visit relatives, socialize, and live an overall meaningful life.

We only pay $2.50 each way. We can travel from one point of Miami Dade County to another! It is open 24 hours a day! We need only to make our reservations before 5 p.m. the day before and we are guaranteed a ride. That is awesome!

Once a month we gather with the county and a representative of the transportation companies. Most of the time people’s problems are resolved at the meetings.

So why would I want a car when gasoline prices are crazy? When insurance is going to make me go nuts? When traffic is so congested that people tend to get road rage? Why?

Very simple. I need more. There are those times when I am waiting needlessly for my transportation. I need more freedom. I want to make more than one round trip per day. As it is, I spend $5 per day to get to work. That doesn’t even include the trips to the grocery store, the mall, the doctor, the pet store, and the post office. Most of these places are located within five miles from my home, yet I have to pay $2.50 for each trip. In one day I can spend $20 and not even leave my neighborhood.

Another reason to purchase a car, I can drive. I know how and I am physically capable of driving so why not? STS is great for people who will never be able to drive or hardly ever travel but life is getting busy for me. Even if I only use the car for short trips it would save me money, time and peace of mind.

Yup, I am feeling the need for control! This past week my driver was behind a car with a lady who was looking for a paper in her car. We were still in my apartment complex and her car was not moving. I told the driver to honk so that she knew we were waiting.

He didn’t. Instead Einstein decided to go around her right side. As we were parallel to her car, she started turning right. My driver put on the breaks and blasted the horn. Ridiculous! I told him if he would have beeped nicely the first time she would have moved on and we would not have had to avoid an accident.

Last week, I went grocery shopping. I live around the corner. In fact, the front of my home is located behind the grocery store. I have to get out of the complex in order to get there but it is still behind the grocery store. I waited 45 minutes for my ride and it took five minutes to get me home. Ridiculous!

Now this doesn’t happen often. In fact, if I have to rate the service I would give it a 9 out of 10. It also makes a great back up for people with physical disabilities when their vehicles are in the shop for repair. It is excellent for the elderly who shouldn’t be driving on the road anymore. It is fabulous for those long trips that I will take every now and then. But it hit me like an 18 wheeler, why should I when I don’t have to?

I tried working with the county to see if perhaps the more trips we took the less we would pay or perhaps a prepaid card for the month. But as of right now, I spend $150 per month on transportation. It is not worth it for me at this point in my life. Time is short and I have so much to do.

While I love the owner’s attempt to make all of my trips run smoothly, I realize that I am the one that needs the change.

So please join me as I take us on a scary road trip. Hopefully, when we get to our destination you will see me driving the car of my dreams or at least one close to it.