Sunday, April 28, 2013


Yesterday we went grocery shopping at Fiesta, the biggest local international food market. If you like Mexican food, or Indian/Pakistani or Middle Eastern or even British food, Fiesta is the source of choice. It's only a few miles from us, just across and down the road from Reliant Stadium. I try to shop there about every fifth shopping trip or so.

We went by METROLift. Stella rode on my ticket as my "attendant"; no, not a medical attendant but a grocery toter... the gal has strong arms. It also gave her a better chance than a shopping list to influence purchases.

The trip to Fiesta was uneventful. The shopping was pleasant. There was even some romancing in the aisles; we're not shy.

The trip back... almost didn't happen.

METROlift kept us standing for 2½ hours in front of Fiesta. Two and one-half hours. With a grocery cart full of melting frozens. Each time I phoned their automated tracker, our vehicle arrival time was pushed back another 15 or 30 minutes.

Finally the vehicle disappeared from the automated system. That did it for me: I phoned the dispatcher. She confirmed that the vehicle was still en route, 3.4 miles from us. Then 3.2 miles from us. Then 9 miles from us. WHAT??? I asked the dispatcher. Apparently the driver (the dispatcher repeatedly said "he"; many of the drivers are women) decided to take a break. Great.

Stella reached her limit. She phoned a cab. I phoned the METROLift dispatcher again and informed her that we would take whichever vehicle arrived first, the cost be damned. She said she didn't blame me.

The cab didn't show in the promised 10 minutes. Or 20. Or 30.

One of Fiesta's managers noticed how long we had been there, and inquired. We told him our sad story. Bless him, he personally took our melted frozens and brought us replacements. Now there's an attitude that will keep long-term regular customers!

About that time, a METROLift bus (well, OK, not really a bus, but their biggest vehicle) showed up. We held it up (figuratively) while the manager came back with our frozens. The petite woman driving the bus proved to have more strength than both of us as she hefted our grocery bags aboard.

The cab? An inquiry with the cab company revealed that the driver decided to pick up another passenger instead. The company is so damned proud of the fact that their drivers are independent business people; well, there you see the consequences of that.
They say all's well that ends well... I'm afraid Stella would not agree. She has sworn off METROLift. No more accompanied grocery runs for me.


  1. I'm so sorry. What a travesty. Find a complaint page and post constantly. METROLift deserves to go out of business.

    1. ellroon, if METROLift goes out of business, I am stranded. I do not have the money to take a cab every place I need to go... and back. I've already scheduled tomorrow's METROLift rides to a doctor's appointment and back; that is my only option, for better and worse. And the day after that, presuming I remembered to schedule it online (always one day in advance, never later, never sooner), I'll take METROLift to physical therapy, which was rescheduled to accommodate the doc appt. That is my life. You could say I am married to METROLift, and I take the bad with the good.

      This whole incident was probably a consequence, direct or indirect, of flash floods in various parts of the city yesterday, including our area and the area near Reliant Stadium. They have schedule slippages every day, of course, but not typically the mass slippage we apparently suffered yesterday.

      The worst thing about this experience was its impact on Stella. Stella does not suffer fools gladly, and when she encounters them, her frustration is not limited to those fools but spills over onto this one. Most of the time, her exasperation is gone a day later. But the uncertainties she faces now are impinging on her normally good-natured self, and I need to take special care that I do not contribute to her problems right now.

    2. I retract my rant and all the curses that went with it and mentally command METROLift to behave itself and give you a comfortable, on time ride to your appointments.

      And that Fiesta manager needs a gold star.

    3. ellroon, ranting is permitted, nay, encouraged on this site!

      In a few minutes, I'll board METROLift for my first ride since the incident. I have to make my peace with them: for a while at least, ML is a part of my life.

  2. So many emotions from this post! While feeling nostalgic for Fiesta, the rest of the story (except the romancing in the aisles) just made me angry while also appreciative of the many reliable options we have here in Ohio.

    1. Marlene, it's good to hear from you.

      Most days, METROLift is tolerable (today, Tuesday, for example) and even that Saturday there was a good excuse (really terrible weather in several parts of the city: flooding, etc.).

      Remember what METROLift is trying to accomplish: curb-to-curb direct service for several thousand disabled people, sufficiently timely for use getting to medical appointments. There are two kinds of service: you can specify pick-up time or drop-off time. Specify pick-up (as we did after Fiesta) and drop-off time is mutable; specify drop-off time (as I did today for a doc appointment) and pick-up time becomes flexible. The cost of the service to persons with disabilities is EXACTLY THE SAME AS BUS FARE.

      In addition, for disabled people who can walk to an ordinary bus stop (I can't yet, but check back in a few months), virtually all Houston Metro buses "kneel" to make mounting easier for people on canes or walkers.

      I am very impressed with the effort they have made to get it right. If once in a while they don't, I'll chalk it up to fate. Nothing goes right all the time.

    2. Great attitude! I miss seeing you in person!

    3. Likewise, Marlene! Those were the good old days... now the only thing left of our "good old days" is the "old" part. :-)

  3. Sorry -having trouble posting - also just had eye surgery so I can't see well so forgive typos and any other anesthesia-induced errors :-). Anyways, hope things improve with transportation and that this all gets easier for you.

    1. Thanks, Marlene. I'm sorry your eyes are troubling you; that seems to be the universal badge of age among everyone I know. I'm fortunate; I need over-the-counter reading glasses, but so far, nothing more than that.

      Your comments posted just fine. Come back again soon!



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