“You’ll have to come back when there’s a doctor here” she said. “We’ll send a taxi for you.”
“A wheelchair taxi?” I asked. “That can take my electric wheelchair?”
Resigned to another visit to the medical centre, I sat back in the chair while the manager made the arrangements. For all that I dislike about ATOS, the office manager seemed kind enough.
“OK, that’s all booked then. The taxi will collect you at your home at 12 on the 10th of August.”
I’ll let my tweets tell the story of the journey. Includes swearing and typos.
Yes, apparently my wheelchair is “not the right kind of wheelchair.” The taxi is apparently designed only for chairs that can be manually pushed up the ramp. I haven’t had this problem before – the last taxi I used had a decent length ramp which I was easily able to drive up without any problem. I haven’t had this problem with boarding trains either. I did attempt to drive up the ramp, and then the driver and my mum tried to push it up without me in it, but the ramp was just too steep.
My dad was only a few minutes away with the manual chair, but the driver was getting impatient. I don’t know if he resented me taking five minutes to leave the house (he had arrived early) or if he had somewhere to be, but he wasn’t happy. I had left my powerchair at the side of the road for my dad to put away when he got here, but he wasn’t here so I had to get out and take it back to my house. Then I had to walk quite a way from the house to the taxi again. At this point I was dizzy, out of breath, and leaning heavily on my stick. And we hadn’t even left yet!
Yes, the taxi driver was going too fast before we had even left Badsey Road. (The road in my video.) A large lorry and trailer coming the other way was turning across us into a farm. The driver had barely slowed down, braking fairly hard when we got to the lorry and just about managed not to hit it. That was quite scary.
(I should point out here, that tired and dizzy as I was, I probably wasn’t judging speed very well. Especially as the boxy old wheelchair taxi was being buffeted by the wind quite a bit. Still, it was very fast, certainly faster than the 60mph limit.)
Yes, our driver, going at breakneck speed, tried to overtake a lorry and a queue of traffic, with an oncoming caravan. This got VERY close. We were still out on the wrong side of the road as the caravan was passing the lorry, and the driver was barely braking, instead casually waiting for the traffic in the left lane to pass so that he could pull back in. Eventually he did have to brake. At this point I was getting quite stressed about things.
The journey so far had not been pleasant. We were being jolted sideways at every turn and thrown forward at every roundabout. And this was all on single carriageway roads with farm traffic on.
The driver was holding his phone, reading messages and entering text from this point for most of the rest of the journey. It was a touchscreen phone too, so he had to be looking while he entered text. He kept this up along the fast roads and in Worcester itself, even as the traffic got heavier.
Now I understand why he was going so fast. It must have been so he could drive all the way around the back of Worcester and clock up some extra miles for the bill.
Yes, I included my location with several tweets over the course of his journey, initially so that I could prove his average speed, and later so that I could check his route. I haven’t been able to analyse those locations yet but I will post the map here soon. Unfortunately I didn’t start recording location until after most of the speeding.
I had to walk from the taxi to the door because I didn’t have a wheelchair with me. I arrived for my medical assessment stressed, exhausted and feeling very ill. Perhaps he was trying to do me a favour after all.