Thursday, October 18, 2007

Recovery: Having To Overcome Transit Fears

I have a month long cat-sitting job way up in the Berkeley hills. Beautiful area and awful old style mountain roads. Two weeks ago my bus dropped me a full block away from my stop - not bothering to tell me of this, I had to chase down a motorist and attempt to locate myself. Once I knew where I was I began a long walk to my job. This road stinks.

Why all rich areas seem to be like this, I'll never know. They didn't waste money on their roads or sidewalks, that's for darn sure! There are two narrow lanes for two-way traffic. Actually, cars coming at one another have to negotiate. One must pull over so the other car can creep into the other car's lane to get by. There are very few sidewalks. The road shoulder has been converted into neighborhood paring. I hate the roads here.

Now you have a feel for what my stroll through twenty to thirty mile-an-hour traffic was like. I attempted to dart in and out between the parked cars, but they are bumper to bumper. So, when a car is coming at me, I flatten myself against a parked car and pray I don't get picked off like other road kill. One car passed so close to me, I could perceive where the door handle was on the door of the car. It didn't hit me, but it was pretty close to contacting my body.

I finally got to my temporary home and felt very strange. I fought wanting to cry. I soon went to bed and slept the sleep of the depressed. I woke up wondering if my life was really worth the money I'm getting paid to tend to Maggie the cat. It would be difficult to bail out on this job, even if I seriously wanted to do so. My employer is over in Turkey. I can reach them, but you can't get a live-in person at reasonable rates quickly. So, I returned to just being depressed.

On Monday I had to take the bus down to Sweet Maria and John's to clean their home. No problem. I know my way around that sidewalk lined area. But I see out the window of the bus that I'm all the way to the little shops near downtown. Way past where I need to be. I just lost it.

I got on my cell phone and when Maria answered the phone I more-or-less yelled at her that I was on the bus, they'd missed my stop and I didn't know where the #$% I was, or when I'd actually arrive at work. Needless to say, poor Maria was a bit taken aback. I hung up and planned how to talk to the bus driver in a way that would not tempt him to call the police.

I was so angry and scared, I was actually shaking. The driver got off the bus and readied himself for my tirade. I acknowledged my anger, but kept my language clean and respectful. I explained about what had happened the day before and how I obviously was still a bit freaked out by the whole thing. Since I was being respectful and reasonable, the driver responded in kind. He apologized and explained the problem from his vantage point.

There are two bus runs, the #65 and the #67. They go more or less the same places, but on different main streets. The street I wanted had a twin on the other line. Did I want the Street, or the Lane? (Oh #$%%&*()*&!), I messed up too. We parted as mature adults and I headed for the #67 that turns into a #65. The two runs hop-scotch each other, it is an amusing way to confuse riders and drivers alike.

When I finally got to sweet Maria, she had left me a message that she had been willing to pick me up from downtown. Now, that is like offering to drop down to Manhattan during rush hour. I was very moved. That was a very kind gesture. Maria did drive me back up the hill. I feel badly when she does this, as any travel causes her additional foot pain. But I gratefully accepted. I could avoid the bus scare one more day.

I'd totally bailed out on a job the week before. I called the lady of the house and told her that I had almost been run over on Sunday and I literally was afraid to leave my location. She gave me the time off and I prayed I'd recover. I knew I was really scared, as just opening the front door caused me a wave of nausea.

I also decided to call my Pastor and request prayer. When I am afraid to leave a house to avoid something, I'm not handling things very well. We prayed on the phone, and my church prayed when they got together Friday evening.

I had to return to Maria on Tuesday and she again drove me back up the hill. I knew that this coming Thursday (today) I'd have to face the music and get back to my normal transiting life.

I went to my mailbox, my cell service office, my house cleaning gig and to get groceries. I did not feel good at all, but I forced myself to proceed anyway. I actually didn't eat or drink much this morning. Thankfully, the ride up the hill was uneventful. I now take more time to tell the drivers in more detail why I am making my "call this stop request," I force them to talk with me. I will not just speak at a driver who doesn't respond and assume I've been heard.

Once back on the hill, I put groceries away and had a lovely, if less then healthy dinner. Strong coffee, smoked oysters and Godiva capachino ice cream with chocolate hearts. I was amazed that the Grocery Outlet store would carry Godiva ice cream. It is expensive and wonderful. So, I've faced the monster. It still feels tense, but I'm no longer feeling like I can't wonder outside, even to get the mail.

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