When the shared ride services, namely Uber and Lyft, made their welcome appearance on the scene in Columbus, I felt as though I had just acquired a chauffeur. All I had to do was swipe a few times and double-tap a few times on my iphone app, and in minutes, a car would be arriving in front of my house. It took a bit of practicing, a lot of sweating, and a great deal of frustration, but eventually, I was able to order a car on my own. Then without warning, LYFT disappeared, and Uber’s app was hard for me to use. “So that’s that,” I thought. “So much for affordable independence.” But then a few months ago, LYFT reappeared, and once again, I was faced with learning to navigate the new and “improved” app.
Yesterday, I had 2 very positive experiences, even though the ordering procedure provoked a lot of stress. Just when I thought I had mastered the app, they went and changed everything around, and once again, I was lost. Several swipes and a misguided double-tap later, I was finally stuffing my long-legged girl onto the back seat floor, and I was on my way to the beauty shop. I have several friends from church who regularly drive me to doctors’ appointments and to the Y, but I feel awkward asking them to drive me to appointments that are all about my appearance and not my health. Yes, my haircut or my manicure will cost me an extra $10 or so, but I love the freedom LYFT provides. I’m no longer nervous about getting done in time, not wanting my friend to have to wait. But now I suffer another kind of nervousness. As with other apps on my phone, it knows where I am, but sometimes it gets it wrong, like yesterday. I had to enter my address, and then I couldn’t find what to do next. Finally after swiping frantically, I got to the next field and was relatively confident the car would show up. But would he make a fuss about the dog? Does she speak English? You may have read about law suits against these companies regarding service animals. I’ve only had one incident where the driver has left me standing in front of a building. I learned my lesson. I no longer wait outside. I wait until I have received the text that the driver has arrived. By waiting, I have access to the make of the car and the driver’s name. I also try to call the driver and let him or her know that I have a dog guide. I am not required to do this, and some of my blind friends would be upset with me for doing this, but if I establish contact, I can first hear if they have an understanding of English, and then also let them know that I am a considerate passenger. If they are not a considerate driver and choose to leave me stranded, then shame on them, and they can expect to pay the consequences. It’s against the law to deny me service because of my service dog. And why do I want a driver who speaks English? I must be able to communicate with my driver. After all, I can’t point to where I want to go. When I arrived at the beauty shop, I hurriedly swiped away at the app, trying to find where I give the driver a rating and then again to where I choose the amount for a tip. I accidentally hit submit without selecting a tip amount, and there was no way to go back and hunt for it. But to my relief, a message was waiting for me on my lap top at home, thanking me for my business, complete with a link to a place where I could leave the driver a tip. Thank Goodness for pages that hold still and let me double-tap where I want. You see, I’m rated as a passenger too, so I want to be known as a good fare. If they “like” me, and I “like” them, we’re all good.