The Ride to Independence
Written by Michelle C., a member of Neponset River House, a Riverside Clubhouse in Norwood.
I was warned. I assumed it was just an empty threat. But then I realized: Neponset River House was serious about me becoming more independent with my transportation. This meant I would have to take the bus…
At first, I put my foot down and refused, but Paul M. – Assistant Program Director at Neponset River House – was on to me. He knew I was just nervous, and he wouldn’t let me off the hook so easily. If I didn’t learn to take the bus, I wouldn’t be able to work, and Neponset River House knew how important work was to me and my recovery. So, Paul said he would take the bus with me the first time. And the second time he would walk me to the bus stop down the road to make sure I remembered where it was.
I was filled with anxiety but when the day arrived, I went through with it. Paul and I walked up to the corner of Dean and Washington Streets to meet the bus. Paul pushed me to keep calm because he knew I could do it. I had an old Charlie Card and I brought it along to see if it would still work. Paul paid his $2 fare and then sat down and watched as I chatted with the bus driver. He chuckled, assuming I was overthinking something and interrogating the driver. Then I marched back to him, grinning with a dollar in my hand left over from the $2 I had planned to pay with. My old Charlie Card got me a discount because of my disability. Paul laughed. “Why the heck am I riding the bus with you? You don’t need my help — you even got a discount and I paid full price!”
We rode the bus to my job near the Dedham Mall and then back to Neponset River House. Paul made me do most of the navigating myself so that I would learn to do it on my own. The bus drivers were very helpful, and I did really well. I was very nervous to start but now I feel good, and I’ve been taking the bus to and from work twice a week for months now!