The following isn't new to Delaware Paratransit riders but they don't read my blog anyway. Other Delawareans --to say nothing of those of you in other states or countries-- may find this difficult to believe. Acquaintances, fellow church members, doctors and so on who live nearby typically see DE Paratransit busses on the road or perhaps see one picking up someone near their home or office. For most Delawareans, that "snapshot" is all they really know about DelDot and Dart's transportation service for disabled Delaware residents. Any observer who thinks about the service at all is probably gratified that our state government and the DART bus system regularly help these people get to destinations that they are unable to reach on their own.
Earlier today a friend & irreplaceable helper emailed me about our original plan to take me grocery-shopping on Dec 26,
"I can shop the Saturday after Christmas if you can't do [both] therapy and shop..." [aka that Thursday].
I responded, "Succinctly, I don't dare promise than I can do both, not that I wouldn't want to."
It sounds weird, even to me after all these years, to admit the near-impossibility of combining a one hour appt & a two hour grocery shopping trip on a weekday where I have no other obligations. I suspect my friend might find this even more difficult to believe than I do. So I followed up the earlier part of my email to her with a pains-taking and very long explanation to support my claim. No way she would read that part of my email. Everything she needed to know for our schedule was above it.
But I hated to waste my true account of what Paratransit service is like for its users. I'm posting it here, so additional people will have the chance to not read it. ;-P
"If it weren't for Paratransit's "help" it WOULD be possible for me to do both therapy & shopping on the 26th.
Here are the common Paratransit-related circumstances which, taken together, make it unlikely that I can do two not-at-home errands that day.
My Paratransit to/from therapy schedule typically goes like this.
(1) My therapy appt with Frank is 1pm-2pm.
(2) (A bit of background)
No sensible P-rider tells the truth about their actual appt times or when would be the real earliest time for pick-up after an appointment. In fact, Paratransit personnel regularly suggest about both these times. Consequently my P ride request to therapy always reads:
Therapy Appt=12:30PM. Pick-up time afterward=2:30PM
(3) Based on this input, P dispatchers respond with the standard warning: "Be Ready" by 11:10 AM and they promise a bus will pick me up afterwards somewhere between 2:15 and 3PM., so be visible to the bus driver.
(4) Riders are not allowed to call Paratransit dispatchers about bus ETA until no bus has shown up within 45 mins of a Be Ready or a promised pick-up time.
(5) if enough time passes so that a rider is finally permitted to call the dispatcher, the rider is given a revised ETA. This new ETA does not necessarily reflect reality--aka the bus may very well arrive later than the ETA given. (Probably not earlier)
(6) Once the rider has been picked up, the rider should in no way expect a direct ride between point A and point B. Additional riders may be picked up or dropped off "en route".
(7) "En route" is defined by Paratransit as anywhere within the geographical limits of northern New Castle County, i.e. the picked up & dropped off riders do not necessarily live anywhere along the straightest shot between the original rider's pick-up & the location of their home.
(In my experience as many as six other passaengers have been dropped off between my pick-up at the Newark Senior Center and my arrival at home)
(8) Summarizing. On Thursday Dec 26th, I expect my typical "Be Ready" of 11:10AM. This translates into,
I may be picked up anywhere between 11AM--which gets to my therapy appt over an hour early, Or more rarely, my pick-up from home will be delayed until approx 12:30PM--which gets me to my appt 15 minutes late.
Or any time between those extremes. Since I must be prepared to board the bus immediately when it arrives and since I can't see the parking lot from my apartment, this requires that I perch on the edge of my bed with my head turned to the window, watching constantly for the approach of the bus.
(9) Returning. After getting on my P Pick-up bus to take me home---at equally semi-random times--- I may actually get home as early as a few minutes of 3PM or more likely as late as 5PM. Very occasionally I don't get home until even later than that. This may happen if my original Pick-Up bus never showed up & the P dispatchers have to send another bus.
(10) Bottom line: As bizarre and unlikely as it seems, I could conceivably be away from home for 7 hours (11AM to 6PM) for a one hour appartment in an office maybe 5 miles or a bit more, from where I live. Thank God, I've never experienced a 7 hour roundtrip day! The longest "roundtrip" I can remember was just over 5 hours.
Frankly, I didn't do the math. However I did spend part of yesterday evening & part of this morning, working from my most recent entry back as far as a Feb 2009 entry, vigilantly looking for for what LJ calls "suspicious comments" & what most of us probably think of as spam in the comments after any given blog.
During that mind-numbling exercise, I noticed that entries with zero comments were very common and that a very few entries sported as many as 10 comments. This "snapshot" was in no way bell curve-shaped. (Do you remember bell curves from either math or statistics?)
I discovered something else. Current spammers have gone back as far as 4 years and added one or more "suspicious comments" to my entries. What is the largest cluster of spammish comments for a single entry?
Make a guess. ;-D
I started to delete these but--since only about ten comments appear after the entry at a time--I decided I had better things to do for now.
Oh, former largest number of spammish comments after an entry was 98. In both cases, the comments were added from mid-2013 to the present.
I so wish I could receive a quarter as many legitimate comments for my blog entries or likes for my FB posts.
Guess reading about the vagaries of Paratransit service, nightmarish move-prep & moving, or about serial apartment floods doesn't inspire anyone to comment.
Much less finish reading an entry. Speaking of which, if you've reached this point, the following is for you.
Someone is out in the snow making snowmen. I don't remember who it is--which is embarrassing--but possibly Linus or Snoopy.
He works for a long time until the yard is filled with dozens of mini-snowmen.
Last frame: "You're probably wondering why I called you all here."
I regret I had to revert to a higher level of security but I had no choice. Since June, some of my entries have gotten dozens of spammish comments!
If your response fails to appear, not to worry! It's being held for my approval. Please sign your name, the handle of your avatar, or whatever you've got. Thanks!