Penny: So Chapter Seven drivers providing wheels, rideshare services, taxis, volunteers, carpools, arranged rides and rides with family and friends. There's a lot of opportunities as a traveler to connect with a driver and having that skillset to be able to negotiate different kinds of rides you get. When do you offer money and when do you just say thank you, and you know, how do you do what I call the dance? So we're going to talk about that here.

So we have some objectives in Chapter Seven that talk about how you can go about advertising for and hiring a driver. The advantages and disadvantages of riding with different types of drivers, cost and safety, those types of considerations.

Now me personally, I'm always up to be interviewed as a person who is a nondriver. The picture on the left shows a couple of students who, from a local high school, plan a route to the University of Arizona how, to find the building I was in, built room number- and this is a crazy building because you come in on the second floor and evens are on the East side of the building and odds are on the West side of the building so nobody can find their way around this crazy building. But they came prepared with their list of questions.

The picture of the young woman on the right, I've known this young woman since she was in first grade. She's a third year doctoral student at Texas A and M, but as a junior in high school she was taking advanced placement classes. So she met with the O and M instructor once every couple of weeks after school and she had her travel skills down really well, but she was looking at the time and going away to college. She ultimately picked the university of Rhode Island. But they picked me up and we went and got some ice cream, and this young woman had prepared a list of questions for me on her MacBook to ask me about my experiences with taxis. So she wanted to interview me to get information. She interviewed another person, got a very different perspective. And kind of worked on, hey, what's my philosophy on taxis?

I've been interviewed recently about using rideshare services. So you know, how much does it cost? How do you, how much do you tip the driver? How do you know where to meet the driver? These are questions that this particular traveler had for me about my experiences using rideshares. And so I really encourage professionals to hook up your traveler with other travelers that are older than them that maybe you services or options that your traveler wants to learn about or you want to introduce your traveler to, so that they can get multiple perspectives. And if you yourself are on the call today and you're a traveler, think about asking your O and M instructor or your Teacher of Visually Impaired students about, hey can you help me connect with some folks who are visually impaired like me, cause I want to learn about the different ways that they travel. So you can get a lot by interviewing people.

So one of the things we suggest when you interview people is that you make a list of things I'm doing, um, things I can do and things that are not for me. So, um, whether it's from doing that safety check, whether it's from interviews you make this list of things that work for you and things that you might want to do in the future so that you can decide whether these are things you need to learn for yourself as a traveler. As an O and M instructor or a TVI, are these things that we need to make into an IEP goal?

Now when you take a taxi or a ride share service, like an Uber or Lyft, you have to decide is it important that I tell this driver person that I have a visual impairment? Maybe it's not, but maybe you do decide it's important. Pre-Covid19, I went and worked out at the gym usually about three days a week. Most of the time I would ride my bike to and from, but some days I was very tight on time. So, I'd ask my husband on his way to work to drop me off at the gym and then I would take an Uber home. Well my gym's in this Jewish community center that has the most crazy parking lot in the world. And also in the morning there are people dropping their kid off for preschool and daycare and there's people coming from classes. It's a very busy, complicated parking lot.

And so I would always send the Uber driver a message about three, four minutes out to say, hey, first off, when you come into this parking lot, go right cause if you go straight, you're gonna end up in the kid line. You know the drop off line for preschool. So go right. And then I won't see you because I have a visual impairment so I'm wearing a blue shirt and black yoga pants and that way as my app was showing me that this silver whatever was getting close to the parking lot, I knew to start, you know, being aware, but I, every time I swear four silver cars would come in one right after the other so I wouldn't know which one was mine.

So in those situations I would choose to tell the driver that I had a visual impairment. Some people who are dog guide users, will text the driver through the app, secure so you're not getting each other's numbers, um right away and say, hey, I have a dog guide. Are you okay with that? Because they don't want to wait for five minutes or seven minutes for the vehicle to pull up, and then the driver say, I'm scared of dogs or I'm allergic to dogs or whatever. I don't want dog hair in my car. And then they have to start over again.

Other people who are dog guide users are like, you know, this is, this is just like me having a purse. It just happens to have hair on it and barks. And so it comes where I go. So that's something that, um, some people want to let the driver know about their visual impairment or the tools that they're using; dog guide, wheelchair, other mobility devices and some people are not. I think it's also good to let the driver know where you're waiting if, if there's more than one option or it's not very clear. So I'm the person sitting on the bench. No, I'm the person standing to the right of the door.

I find especially like when I'm in an airport and I'm waiting for an Uber, I have to be really specific about where I am. I'm in Terminal 3. I'm between the sign that says, um, A and B. I, you know, I have a purple suitcase. I'm five foot seven and I'm wearing a red shirt. So, you know, I tried to send a specific and information because I'll tell them, I'm not going to see you pull up.

I talk about a dance when it comes to being a traveler with a visual impairment and a driver. And I have a little cartoon of two characters dancing, but I also have the Dairy Queen symbol. Now I pay for half of a car, I pay for half the car payment, the registration, the gas, everything. My husband drives that car. He pays for the other half. It's very convenient since we happen to be married, but he's the driver. And so sometimes I'll see him kind of sitting in his chair. He's had a long day at work and I'll be like, Hmm, do I want to ask him if we can go to Dairy Queen? Is this going to be too much of an imposition? And you know, I'll stand there and I'll kind of weigh out- Blizzard. Let husband sit. Blizzard. Let husband sit. Blizzard it is!

And so I'll go up to him and I'll say, excuse me, does my car want to go to Dairy Queen? As a nondriver, when you're dealing with people who are giving you rides, sometimes people are going to say no. So you have to decide do they mean no for this ride or do they mean you are really becoming a pain, and they mean no, like, going forward. Some people are not willing to take money from you and so how can you thank them? Sometimes it's just saying thank you. Sometimes it might be walking their dog or doing another thing for them that's kind of nice. So you have to kind of do this dance when you're dealing with drivers.

The other thing to think about is are you feeling safe as a traveler with this driver? If you cut to a point where you're not feeling safe, then you need to let them know. And I always think it's good to use an I statement in there. So would you mind slowing down? You are making me nervous so I'm feeling nervous here. You could text a friend and say, hey, you know, give me a call and then I'll pretend like I have to go meet my friends or just drop me off at the next gas station. If you are really feeling uncomfortable, you can call 9-1-1.

You could let the driver know, hey, I need to stop to use the restroom, and then when you get to that place you could just say, you know, actually I'm not going to go with you the rest of the way. In an Uber or a taxi, we heard a little bit about this in the safety check video, but you want to follow that driver. You can ask an Uber or Lyft driver or other rideshare service driver to turn on the audio, and that way you're listening within the app or you can do it yourself, but you want to follow that route to make sure you're going where you think you're going.

When you're hiring a driver or you know, family members giving you a ride as a traveler and you have places to go and things to do, you want to think about planning a route that's going to be the most efficient. Maybe the driver wants to plan it, but maybe they want you to plan it. So you want to think about the traffic patterns. You know, are we in school zones? Are, you know, is the plant getting out- so there's a lot of people coming out from their shift. You want to think about how many traffic lights there are and where are the businesses that you want to go to.

So when I think about planning a route with my husband, sometimes when we run errands, I think about doing a circle so that we start out with most of the businesses as we can on our right so that he's not having to constantly cross traffic. And so you want to think about if there's any places that you want to avoid. The other thing is, as a traveler, a nice thing that you can do is to monitor traffic. So get your app or get your phone and you can keep, you know, keep tabs on what's going on the roads.