This is How True Crime Podcasts Start

This is how true crime podcasts start:  As someone who travels with my power wheelchair and who cannot transfer easily for trips, I always plan far in advance for wheelchair accommodations in travel.

Using a travel planner

This summer, I attended and spoke at the CureSMA annual convention at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. I used a travel planner to help me with my accommodation because usually that is the easiest way for me, and I have used a planner or agent many times to help me out when my travel goes array and that is often! 

In fact, on this very trip, my plans went in a few unexpected directions, so I was thankful to have help in getting everything planned.

An almost uneventful trip

My flight to Florida was uneventful save for the crew at the first airport almost dropping me and giving me whiplash during the transfer from my wheelchair to the aisle chair seat. My chair made it with minor cosmetic damage, but it worked and was safe and that was the main thing. 

By the time my caregiver, Donna, and I arrived in Florida, we had been awake and on the move for almost 12 hours, and I had to pee! We wanted to get to our hotel and take a nap before going to Disney Springs for evening friend meetups. 

Where was the driver

When we arrived at baggage claim, there was no one to meet us for our ride and was planned. We called our agent and then had back and forth conversations with a ‘driver’ for the next half hour trying to decide where we should meet him, what level and what side of the airport. Sweating and exhausted, we walked to the meeting place and a nice wheelchair accessible van showed up and our driver showed us our ride receipt to prove his identity, picked us up, loaded all our equipment and luggage and we were off to the hotel. The driver was a very nice guy, the van was super clean, and we felt safe and secure until my phone started ringing off the hook.

Was this really our driver?

I handed Donna my phone and she checked my voicemails. There were five of them at that point. All from the "driver." I was a bit confused, so I had Donna call my travel planner since I cannot physically hold the phone to my ear. She said she would figure it out and if I got to the hotel, it was all good. Everything was perfect, I thought to myself and relaxed. 

"Who are you in the car with?"

Two minutes later my phone rang again, it was my travel planner. I had Donna answer the phone and the planner said what might have been the scariest thing I have heard in years ‘who are you in the car with?’ 

Donna looked at me and said, "This is how true crime podcasts start." I gave my planner all the information from this driver and she figured out that it had been a glitch in the booking due to a scheduling problem or something and we had been double-booked. 

Turns out, no one told this driver that his booking was canceled. The mystery was solved, we were not in the van with a serial killer, and we were ok to continue with this driver to the hotel. During the half hour ride to the hotel, the ‘driver’ who had not picked us up called my phone at least another 10 times until our planner called and told him to stop. He was very aggressive, and I was thankful to not be a part of that ride!

The conference itself was phenomenal.  I was able to meet my best friend in person for the first time and met some new friends all while building my love for my SMA community. 

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The return trip driver never showed

After the conference on the way to the airport, our ride was once again scheduled with the aggressive "driver" because we could not rebook accessible transportation with so many people needing the accessible vans because of the conference. We waited outside our hotel and watched for our ‘driver’ who said he would be there in 10 minutes, but he never showed.  Our planner called the van’s owner and turned out that the "driver" disregarded our reservation and took another person to the airport instead, so we had to wait another hour for him to come back.  We made our flight just barely, but we did make it no thanks to him.

As a disabled person, travel accommodations are one of the hardest things for me to deal with in making any plans. Situations like this are rides to remember, and while I was frustrated by the end of my trip to the airport, I am so glad that I did not end up as the subject of a true crime podcast!

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