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The invisible wheelchair, a London bus adventure

They can’t see me.

Something I very quickly discovered after going out on my own is that in a wheelchair in some situations you are invisible, well it appears that way to me, you’re not actually invisible but you are hard to see.

This is something I just didn’t think about until the situation in this video occurred.

The bus driver shocked me

This was a Sunday evening, and I was just on my way home from the pub, I had drunk around 4 or 5 pints, not enough to make me drunk but enough to dull my senses.

I arrived at the bus stop and saw there was 13 minutes until the bus I wanted arrived, as I had left the pub, I phoned the local Chinese take-away to order some food, the Chinese was fairly close-by to the bus stop, so I had plenty of time to get my food and come back to the stop before my bus go there.

I got my food, got back to the stop and waited. I looked up and I could see the bus at the junction around 100m away and it was right on time, so I positioned myself right by the bus stop ready to board the bus when the ramp was deployed for me. The bus approached the bus stop and just kept going, right past me. I couldn’t believe it, I was going to have to wait 30 minutes for another one and my food was going to be stone cold by the time I got home, I wasn’t happy, and I shouted some very rude words at the bus driver as the bus disappeared into the distance.

I was not a happy bunny and as luck would have it my camera was on and recording the whole thing, I swore I was going to report that driver to TFL in the morning and back it up with the video evidence.

I was quite hungry, and I really didn’t fancy the prospect of microwaving my take-away as it would be cold by the time I got home after waiting another 29 minutes for the next bus so I started to book an Uber, my wheelchair folds up and I have a little mobility so I can use an ordinary car as a last resort.

The bus driver totally shocked me

Uber managed to find me a driver 10 minutes away and I was just about to confirm the booking when I happened to look up at the junction and saw something which quite surprised me, on the left-hand side road was a bus waiting at the lights, this was unusual because that road isn’t on a bus route. My mind said maybe there were some road works somewhere local and this was a temporary diversion.

Then the lights changed, and the bus turned into my road and came towards me at the bus stop. To my utter shock I realised it was the same bus that had just driven past me. I then realised the driver had seen me waiting but only after he had passed the stop and couldn’t stop and what he has done is gone off of his route to go around the block to come back and get me.

Wow!

I was totally shocked. Got on the bus and I shouted a big thank you at the driver. Thanks to this driver caring I got home at my planned time and my food was still nice and hot.

I have no idea if drivers are allowed to do what he did and I am so grateful he did do it, mu anger went away and there no way I was going to report this driver.

Hindsight

Hindsight they say is a wonderful gift, it’s true it really is. When I watched the video back the next morning, I realised that my brain was probably a little fuddled from the beer I had drunk and I had positioned myself at the bus stop where the view of me from the drivers perspective was partially obstructed by a litter bin.

If I hadn’t been in a wheelchair then this would never have happened because even in the same position the bin would have only come up to my belly and so the rest of me would have been quite visible to the driver, however in a wheelchair you are quite low down, around the same height as an 8 or 9 year old child.

I do accept some responsibility here and I learned a valuable lesson I need to make sure bus drivers have a clear and unobstructed view of me when I am waiting at bus stops in the future.

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