My driver played a joke on me. He acted like he wasn’t there to pick me up, waiving me away. He almost got me. He’s one of my favorites, because we can bullshit and he lets me swear like a truck driver.

When I got on there was another lady already seated, and I sat next to her. We were on the way to dropping her off first. When we got to her office, there was a notice on the door stating the doctor’s office had moved to a different location. She tried calling on her phone but had a very difficult time hearing them. In the meantime, our driver was calling his dispatch and letting them know we were going to the new location, about a mile away. However, when we finally got it figured out that we were supposed to go to a new location, it was actually about 20 minutes away. I was due to go to another doctor’s appointment.

All three of us were getting really stressed out, but I stayed calm. First, I got the phone from the other passenger and talked to the transportation company, because she was getting to her appointment late, which meant she might not get out until late and she might miss her ride home. So they told me to tell her to call if that happened and they would still pick her up. Then I got the correct address for our driver. Then I told everyone I wasn’t freaking out and I would still have time to make my appointment if we just hauled ass. I talked to the other passenger for a little bit and found out she was originally from Massachusetts but had moved to Phoenix 40 years ago, back when the freeway hit a dead end at the “Dobson Hospital,” which is now (I think) one of the many Banner hospitals in the area. She lived in one of the very last houses in her subdivision and then after her lot, there weren’t any lights. It was just desert and coyotes. And now it’s heavily developed and you have to go much further to get to an undeveloped area. She still has a very pronounced Massachusetts accent, though.

We got the other passenger dropped off. Then dispatch actually removed a passenger that they had added to the roster, so I was being taken directly to where I needed to go. So my driver was less stressed, and so was I.

We got to chatting about the merits of being helpful. My driver said he landed this job because he was looking for employment, but he really liked being able to help people. We talked a little about my advocacy as a disabled person, and I explained some of the long-standing issues with housing that started in the ’80’s with Reagan. My driver doesn’t hold back, and was giving me faces. While I was explaining, he would interject that the issues we’re having are strictly because of the “transition with Biden” and because “Trump wasn’t re-elected.” Now, I don’t allow someone to rewrite history. I explained that Reagan got on the kick with pretending there was an issue with welfare queens, and that we were still restricted to having the same number of housing units that we did when he was president because of the laws that were passed then, even though we have more people on the planet and more poverty, and more division of wealth vs. poverty. My driver said he saw new housing go up in his neighborhood, so that must not be true. I asked him if he knew which housing units the new places replaced. He said he didn’t know anything about it. I told him that they are allowed to replace, just not increase. They are also allowed to put one or two or three bedrooms in place of any number of other bedrooms, like four, five, or six bedrooms. So nothing has to be equal or helpful. So he said again, he didn’t know anything about it. And I said great, now you do. Because again, I don’t allow anyone to rewrite something just because they wish it was a certain way.

I also explained housing vouchers to him. Wait lists are at about 10 years in certain areas. Here in Arizona, we don’t have any laws requiring landlords to accept vouchers. Some states do. So even if you get a voucher, there’s nothing that will help you be able to use it. Every single landlord can refuse you. So even if you wait for 10 years to get a voucher (which is basically waiting for someone to die), there is no guarantee you will actually be able to use it.

And then I explained that the short bus we were on only serviced certain areas. So the buildings that he said went up weren’t in the area that the short bus went to. And about half of the places that might be within my budget were not in the service area for transportation. So if I got into an apartment I could afford, I couldn’t afford it, because all of my money would be gone just because of transportation.

My driver changed the subject then, and said his youngest son, age 14, decided to live with his mom because she lived closer to all of the action. His son said he didn’t actually like his mom but he didn’t want to be stranded out in the middle of nowhere. So he decided to cut his son off. Now, he has three other children, all past legal age. He’s got a son, 22, who has three kids and a girlfriend, also living with his ex-wife. He’s got a daughter with two kids. And he has another son who stays home and plays video games. My driver started having kids and by extension grandkids early. He told me that his adult kids aren’t really motivated to keep steady jobs. I’m not going to give him parenting advice, but I don’t think cutting off his youngest at 14 is a wise move. His son isn’t fully raised at 14. I’m not certain my driver is fully grown at 40-something. He said his son asked for condoms. This isn’t going to end well.