by Dee Schaefer, Becketwood Member
My white plastic Metro Mobility card expires in 2200. Yes, that is accurate.
Several years ago, I used it to make a reservation, but the bus arrived so late that I had to cancel an appointment. This attempt was my second. Wishing to be less dependent on my busy friends as my medical appointments have increased, I called to reserve a ride to the Summit Orthopedic Clinic in Woodbury.
Told that the ride would arrive at 11:40, I prudently left my Becketwood home at 11:30. The bus arrived at noon. The courteous driver delivered me to the Woodbury Clinic twenty-five minutes later. Although I was early for my 1:00 appointment, the physician’s assistant quickly gave me cortisone shots in both knees and sent me on my way. “What a wonderful day this has been,” I muttered as I walked without pain to the elevator.
The scheduled return on Metro Mobility was 2:17. While I was waiting in the first-floor reception area, a vividly dressed senior settled down on the bench beside me. As she parked her sturdy walker in front of her, she turned to address me with a distinct New York accent. “Hello, my name is Pat. Who are you?”
Gregarious Pat soon revealed that she was a retired grade school teacher of Irish descent whose son had placed her in Assisted Living in a nearby senior facility. She was not happy. Why? She had little in common with its midwestern Scandinavian residents. We chatted about St. Patrick’s Day, her French Canadian husband, and her love of Broadway song and dance.
While talking, I couldn’t help but notice dyed tufts of auburn hair poking above a decorative black visor shading her fair skin and sunglasses. Her beige slacks and checkered fleece jacket were topped with a rust and white fur vest. A small woven bag crossed her body from right to left. She was not a conservative presence.
With Pat to entertain me, time passed quickly. When my watch showed 3:00, she urged me to call Metro Mobility to find out what had happened to my ride. A kind receptionist calmly called, waited, and was told that the bus had come at 2:00. The driver could not find me. Since I had not left the reception area, both receptionists and I were incredulous. It seems the driver had gone to the wrong address, Twin Cities Orthopedics located across the road.
Result: I was “rebooked” for a pick-up more than two hours later, at 5:32. As one receptionist pointed out, the building closed at 5:30. At that point, I imagined myself on the sidewalk watching and waiting for a ride. One of the receptionists kindly assured me that she would not abandon me. She said, “I keep thinking about my own grandmother.”
As I waited, walking meditation, seated meditation, and close reading of an old Poetry magazine retrieved from my purse immersed me in other worlds.
At 5:32, the receptionist spotted the Metro Mobility bus across the way at the wrong address, Twin Cities Orthopedics. She quickly volunteered to drive me to the bus to make sure that it wouldn’t leave without me. Somehow, that didn’t seem sensible. While discussing strategy, she noticed the bus slowly making its way to the Summit Clinic. We both stood outside waving our arms in the late-afternoon winter sun.
The bus driver welcomed me on board. There was only one other passenger, an affable woman whose rich voice reminded me of Maya Angelou. She had already been on the bus two hours on a return to her Minneapolis home via Vadnais Heights. Her bulky red fleece nestled comfortably into the blue seat.
The driver asked for my return fare. Formerly told that it would be $4.25, I had put that amount in an envelope. He took it out, counted it, and said firmly, “You owe me a dollar. The fare goes up during rush hour.”
At that point my patience gave way. “I absolutely refuse to pay $5.25.”
“Well then, your payment will be contested. We will check the cameras to see if the 2:17 pick-up came to the right address. If it did, you owe us a dollar.”
“How long will it take to drop me off at Becketwood?”
“You should be back there at about 7:00 this evening.”
“Isn’t Becketwood on the way?”
“That doesn’t matter. Our protocol is that departures have priority. Even if we were to drive by your home, we couldn’t stop.”
As I settled into my seat, I felt a wave of resignation drift over me. This situation was obviously out of my control.
We were driven to a home near the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to pick up a young mother in a wheelchair accompanied by her grade-school daughter. They were on their way to the Mall of America to celebrate a family birthday.
The driver then dropped off the red-fleece passenger at her senior residence in south Minneapolis.
We were on our way to Becketwood. At about 6:50, I saw the front entrance. Waving good-bye to the driver, mother and daughter, I gingerly put my feet on familiar ground.
At that point, I knew I had missed the St. Patrick’s Day dinner in the Wellington. From Summit Orthopedics, I had called my host Priscilla Young to let her know that I would be late. For some reason, she didn’t receive the message. Concerned, she called my landline phone and sent an e-mail. When I didn’t respond, she contacted Security. Woody dutifully checked my apartment to see if I was dead or alive.
When I entered the front lobby, vigilant Woody waved. “Glad to see you. Where have you been?”
Now we all know. My fifteen-minute appointment took seven hours.
In my memory bank, I recalled a quote from another resident. “What else do we seniors have besides time?”