Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Caught in the Rain

Unlike our very dry July this summer in North Central Massachusetts, August has had its share of rainstorms. I take summer storms in stride and I’m able to board Paratransit vans or cars without getting drenched. However, my friend Candice and I have had some wet adventures recently, as she is dealing with blindness, as well as a walker.

It was a cloudy, humid Friday afternoon, and I took the Paratransit van to meet Candice’s train at the Fitchburg station. After having a snack at the new café, I took the front of her walker with my left hand, guiding her towards the van entrance with verbal directions. I heard heavy rain pounding on the glass doors and cement outside. I was about to open the door when a helpful voice cautioned, “Wait, I am going on the same van. It is pouring out there.”

With additional challenges of pouring rain and guiding Candice, the woman taking this van and the driver helped us into the air-conditioned van and out of the tropical rainstorm. I wished I had thought to bring my rain jacket.

Saturday at eight A.M., we took a cab to Denny’s and were greeted again by pouring rain. I was able to navigate Candice’s walker down our ramp and the driver assisted us in to the cab. We were soaked again, but safely in the car.

After a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee, the sun was finally coming out as we took the van to Walmart. It looked as if the impending rain would continue to hold off while we were in the store and as we left to grab some lunch.

After lunch, our hostess guided us towards the entrance of the small restaurant. As we approached the door, I again heard rain. We waited for our van outside under the canopy. As the torrential rain pounded that little the canopy, I really hoped we would get assistance to the van. Maneuvering the walker down three small cement steps to the sidewalk would be tricky and slow. The rain muffles sound for a totally blind person, not to mention making everything very slippery.

Our van arrived and the kind driver helped Candice with the lift onto the van. I followed behind, and having learned my lesson the day before, I was glad to have my rain jacket on. The driver drove cautiously, with rain coming down in flash flooding sheets.

We arrived at my complex and I thought to myself “How are we going to get up the ramp with all of our bundles in this blinding downpour?” Luckily, our driver came to our rescue. I rushed up the ramp and held the main door open for Candice and the driver, who was with her every step of the way.

By Sunday afternoon when Candice and I went out for dinner, the weather was sunny and mild. While the rain had been a blessing for the parched grass and garden, it certainly did add an additional challenge for us. Thanks to the kind help of others, we were able to quickly, and safely, navigate through the rain and continue to enjoy our weekend. Though, I really think they should make a walker with an umbrella hook for just these occasions.

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