It was your typical Saturday in a shopping town - busy and hectic and crawling with people and noise. I saw lots of other wheelchair users. Probably there weren't any more of "my people" in Reading today than there normally is but I was just more aware of them.
Because I had an encounter with someone who seemed to think there could only ever be one wheelchair user *sigh* .
I get the train almost all the time when I go to Reading (occasionally I go with my parents and my Dad drives). To get the train I have to give 24 hours notice of requiring assistance or journeycare as they call it. And I also book a wheelchair space.
I've been using the system for so long and so often that the staff at my local station, at Reading and at Oxford all know me pretty well and we laugh and joke and we're all on first name terms. New wheelchairs, new haircuts, it being a long time since we've seen each other, that sort of thing all gets commented on.
It's also kind of getting to the stage where I ring the call centre to make the booking and as soon as I give my name it sometimes changes the service I get. They still go through the spiel they have to give to each customer for every booking but it gets changed to "i know your a regular but i'm required to tell you that..." and the ins and outs get skipped.
I do however still wish that they would set up a system where I would have to give details of my wheelchair (size, type, that is definitely not a scooter, that i've used it on the trains before) and contact details and details of exactly what support/help I need. That's actually kinda amusing because they are doing a call back service to see how the journeycare worked for you and if you have any comments. I travel so often that they are forever calling me. And I always tell them the same thing - set up the system so I can just tell you where I want you and when I want you and not the same personal details over and over and over again.
Anyway, I just totally went off of my point there.
So Tony met me and got me on the train. Got to Reading and there was no one there to get me off the train. But there was a train manager type about to join the train. Grabbed a passerby and they told the train manager who came and told me he was on the case and then went to find someone.
Eventually this woman turns up, never met her before in my life. She told me to book assistance next time and she would be there when the train got in.
I told her I had booked and gave her my name and she checked and found me on her list - "Miss Emma Crees arriving platform 8 11.07 am"
Yup, that's me.
She didn't apologise.
Instead she left me gasping and wondering what she was on.
Because she turned to me and went "yeah you were on my list but I saw that there's A MAN in a wheelchair over in the concourse and I assumed HE was you and I didn't need to come."
- the booking said that I am a "Miss" which is a small hint that I am, in fact, a woman
- it also told her my name is Emma and I don't know about anyone else but I've yet to meet a guy called Emma.
- it's HER JOB to provide assistance and regardless she should have been there waiting for me with a ramp as requested and booked (particularly given the fact that Tony rang and confirmed that I'd traveled as it was a non reservable service so they'd know I was at the back of the train).
- And there can be more than one wheelchair user in any one place at a time.
I am so making a complaint.
As soon as I finish giggling that is.