The Struggle

The struggle is real is basically the world’s newest catch phase. It’s just so fitting… even when it’s not. I use it all of the time. Personal examples are provided below:

  • “Ugh. The barista made my latte with nonfat milk instead of soy milk. The struggle is real.”
  • “I had to stop breathing for like, 30 seconds to button my jeans this morning. The. Struggle. Is. Real.”

In my experience, no one really describes an actual struggle with the phrase, but I am going to change that. Right now. Let’s talk about a situation in my life where the struggle is actually real: Transportation.

Let me elaborate. I am in a wheelchair. Some of you know this. And if you didn’t, welcome to the inner-circle. As you might imagine, this presents a unique set of challenges for me every day. I try to face them all gracefully (and with good hair.) But there is no bigger challenge in my life than getting to or from… anywhere. It is a royal pain in my ass.

Here’s why.

I use a paratransit service; it is an ADA compliant public transportation option provided by Broward county. This is how I get around every day. It is better than nothing. But it is the biggest test of patience God put on earth.

Here’s the process:

  1. I decide where I want to go.
  2. I call the call center before 5 PM the day before. (Not 5:01. Been there, done that.)
  3. I give them the time I want to be at the location and the time I want to be picked up.
  4. They call me at night to give me my pickup window. (Everything is done in half hour windows. — if my pickup time is 10 AM it’s really 10 - 10:30 AM.)

It’s pretty convenient. When I can plan my life 24 hours in advance. And when I’m not scheduled on a van that has three other pickups and two drop offs before I even start heading in the direction I need to go.

Then there is the entirely different issue of punctuality on the part of the driver. I have considered carrying around a dictionary to explain the meaning of the word. — It’s so bad that I usually request to be dropped off an hour earlier I want to be there.

And that is just to get around Broward county. If I want to pretend that I’m fancy and go to Miami for anything, I have to do the process Twice. From my house, to a Starbucks in Aventura, where I wait for Miami Dade’s paratransit service, to my location, back to the Starbucks then home.

When I was going to school at FIU, I spent at least 4 hours a day waiting on transportation. The upside: I can literally recite the entire Starbucks menu to you without skipping a single item; and I’m an expert at styling my hair in public restrooms.

Now that I’ve graduated, I am finding that the majority of job opportunities I have are in the Miami area, and I can’t apply; not because I’m unqualified; I just can’t get there in time to actually work.

You know that feeling of liberation that comes with getting your driver’s license? Having the freedom to drive anywhere and do anything without having to rely on anyone but yourself.

Now imagine your life without that freedom.

The struggle is real.