My journey through the magical land of bureaucracy with the beloved Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) continues. I called in (again) to try and see why my complaint had not be responded to (again) and told that the “Superintendent” would call me back (again). I was also told that this person’s (not sure of their name or sex or any details beyond their title) information was not “public record.”
About an hour after that conversation the Superintendent, whose name is Eunice Rhodes, called me back and we had an interesting discussion where I learned that she didn’t really know a lot. She started off for apologizing for the the lack of communication but couldn’t tell me why it had taken almost two months to get back with me (in five days after this post it would have been two months since the initial complaint). This was frustrating, but I plugged along, attempting to get answers to some of my other concerns. She proceeded to let me know that the driver had been brought in and informed that if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk they are definitely to stop and not speed up to turn in front of them. we then had this conversation:
“so, the bus didn’t hit you, it just hit your cane, correct?”
“that is the exact same thing as hitting me”
“I understand that, in your view, it’s the same thing, but it didn’t actually hit you.”
“Yes, it did. It hit my cane and came about 6 inches from my face. If I had been walking faster he would have hit me head on, if I hadn’t stopped he would have side swiped me fully.”
She refused to accept that the driver hit me, implying throughout that the driver’s version of the story (the lie where I wasn’t even in the street to begin with) was more accurate. I let her know that it was of the utmost importance that she and the drivers understand that hitting my cane is the same as hitting me. I asked if the driver hit a wheelchair if it would be considered the same as hitting the person and she said that was different.
Near the end of our conversation I asked when the driver had been brought in for this “conversation.” She sputtered a bit and rephrased my question “you want to know when he was brought in?,” she asked. “Yes, I would love to know when this conversation took place,” I responded. I hear her talking to someone in the room and hear a confirmation of 11/29 (which would have been a month and a half after my initial complaint) from both the other person and Superintendent repeating that date, she then focuses back on me and tells me that she doesn’t have that date, but he was definitely brought in. She kept reassuring me that they took this complaint seriously and the complaint would say in the driver’s file.
After I advocated for education for both the Superintendent, her staff and all the drivers I tried to bring home the point that it was important that she and the drivers understood the meaning of hitting a cane or other implement for navigating the world. I use the cane to better control and operate in my environment, hitting that device with a large vehicle is frighting and jarring and to be dismissed so casually is insulting. I don’t feel that she actually accepted or understood my plea, but it felt necessary to vocalize that feeling.
So, to sum up the Superintendent knows: the driver was brought in and told not to hit pedestrians in the crosswalk.
The Superintendent does not know: why she didn’t return to previous requests to call me, why it took almost two months for a resolution, when the driver was brought it, why hitting my cane is the same as hitting me and why the customer service agent couldn’t give me her extension.
I’m not sure where to go from here. Obviously education need to happen at all levels of MARTA. The lack of understanding about the meaning of mobility devices as they relate to their users, the lack of communication and the lack of documentation of their procedures is disturbing. What should I do? Leave it here and be satisfied that I finally heard back and voiced my concerns? Lodge a complaint against the Superintendent for blowing me off for two months (I wonder how that would go)?