Frappe With a Friend
By Patty L. Fletcher
August 16, 2021
I suppose to some, it seems like a trivial thing but to me, heading out on the bus with the goal of meeting a friend for a drink at the new Starbucks® recently opened in my favorite grocery is a treat long overdue.
Between lockdowns and not having a Dog Guide my life over the past year and a half has been at a literal stand still. I know it’s been that way for many but for me something as simple as a frappe with a friend has up until now been impossible. To have accomplished it before would’ve required me to schedule a door-to-door van service days in advance or have my friend Christy pick me up and bring me home. Though it wouldn’t have been the end of the world to have done either thing, the fact that I could simply text and say, “Wanta check out the new Starbucks® at Food City?” and know I could meet her there like anyone else would do was huge. So, this morning, I happily got myself up, took a bath and washed my hair, put on real clothes rather than clean PJS or lounging pants and readied myself and my dog for a day out.
Blue was raring to go when I slipped the harness over his head at just after 11 AM. Though the weather was forecasted to be stormy later in the afternoon the sun shown brilliantly, the birds sang happily in the trees and as we zoomed down the walk toward the corner bus stop, I felt finer than I’d done in so long I thought my heart might burst with joy!
When the bus came snoring up a few moments after we’d bounded up to the stop the door opened and the driver called, “Hey Patty! Hang on a minute, I want to get out and make sure the ramp is down flat for you.”
Holding Blue where he stood quivering with excitement at the prospect of something new to do, I found myself much relieved that this was a driver who had worked with me and my previous guide.
“OK.” She called, “You’re good to go. Is there anything special I can do to help?”
“Yes, let me take your arm for just a moment so I can heel him onto the ramp. He’s just a bit skittish but once he sees what we want he’ll do fine.”
Once I had Blue on the ramp, I sent the driver ahead of us and had Blue follow her up. At the top, blue made an unscheduled stop to sniff curiously at a passenger who had said hello, but I quickly brought him back into line with a sharp snap to the leash and a firm “Leave it! No sniffing!”
“I didn’t pet him.” The passenger called over to me. “Tempting though it was, I know we’re not supposed to touch them while they’re working. If my calling hello caused that I’m sorry.”
No.” I said, “He shouldn’t do such a thing, whether you call out or not.”
“Just so you know I am not one of those who will freak out if your dog takes a sniff of me.” They said with a laugh.
Situating Blue at my feet and stroking his ears in thanks for a job well done I called my thanks to the driver and we were on our way.
When we got to Walmart, a transfer spot on the route, the driver took the time to assist me by having Blue and me follow her. This was helpful and blue went straight up onto the second bus with only the briefest of hesitations. We needed to work on his boarding more in the center of the ramp to avoid the small lip on each side so as we started up, I took a moment to bring him back to the foot and giving the edge a quick thump with the palm of my hand stated, “Pfui!” When we deboarded a little later at our stop he went down perfectly and kept far away from that forbidden side.
“Great job!” I praised as we settled onto the bench at the bus shelter next to Food City. “Let momma text Miss Christy and let her know we’re here.”
Soon, Christy was walking up calling cheerfully, “Hey guys.” And just like that we were off.
Blue followed her beautifully into the store and before we knew it, we were picking our pleasure and finding a table so we could sit, sip and catch up for a bit.”
Far too soon Christy’s lunch hour was coming to a close and we were making our way back out to the bus shelter and saying our good-byes.
Later when the busses pulled in, Blue stood and with a wag led me out to them as if we’d been doing it together all our lives. For a moment he wasn’t sure if he were to follow the other passenger who had been waiting with us or go toward the driver who was standing just a few feet away waiting to direct us back on board, but with a quick gesture of my hand and soft, “Right, Right Blue.” He was headed up the ramp and to our seat.
Now, here I am at my desk with Blue sprawled happily in the floor behind my chair, Prince Edward is purring contentedly from his place underneath the old recliner in the corner and a thunderstorm is brewing in the distance.
As for me, I’m filled with a deep satisfaction I’ve not felt in many moons. The realization that I can go where I want when I please is a gift for which I have no words to describe. Tomorrow, I’ve a doctor’s appointment in the early morning and I no longer look on the trip with dread. I know I’ll be able to navigate the building with no problem. No longer will I need someone to assist me inside. No longer will I need help finding the counter or a seat in the waiting room once I’m signed in.
Having this furry pal by my side has returned my independence and self-confidence and to me there’s no greater gift in the world.
For now, my tale is done. My special thanks to The Seeing Eye® and to the Kingsport Area Transit for making a frappe with a friend possible.
Thank you for reading. May Harmony find you and blessid be.
For information about The Seeing Eye® visit: https://www.seeingeye.org
To learn about the Kingsport Area Transit and its various services visit: https://kingsporttransit.org
Patty and her guide dog Blue. Patty has her hair tied back in a low ponytail and rests her right hand on Blue’s head. She wears a white shirt with a pink and purple butterfly on the front and light blue shorts. Blue is a handsome black lab. He wears a brown leather harness with a handle attached to the back and is smiling at the camera as he sits in front of Patty. In the background is a brick building with white, windowed doors and a flowerpot overflowing with pink and yellow blooms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport Tennessee where she works full time as a Writer with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disAbled from the non-disAbled. She is Also a Social Media Marketing Assistant.
Pathway to Freedom
Broken and Healed
How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life
A garden with rocks and pebbles are surrounded by grass and trees. A bench sits below a tree with a silhouette of a dog sitting on the grass in front of it. An ethereal glow of gold and green shines through the middle of the picture with the title of the book written in fantasy style lettering in a darker shade of gold with black shadowing.
Pathway to Freedom, Book Cover
In this, the first book in her memoir trilogy, Pathway to Freedom – Broken and Healed: Book One – How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life Second Edition, Patty shares how her decision to gain complete independence with the help of ‘The Seeing Eye Guide Dog’ school in Morris Town, New Jersey, reveals to her a glimpse into worlds she had never before known existed.
Once home from ‘The Seeing Eye’ she soon begins to realize all is not right in her world.
Watch your step as you journey down the pathway with Patty and Campbell, for there are many obstacles along the way. There are triumphs and tribulations, tears and fears, but through it all that forever guide by her side, King Campbell works tirelessly to keep her safe from harm.
For this and all her other work visit: https://www.amazon.com/Patty-L.-Fletcher/e/B00Q9I7RWG
Jo Elizabeth PintoAugust 16, 2021
Patty, I’m thrilled for you. I’ve recently gotten my feet under me again, in the form of a brindle black Labrador named Spreckles, so I know the glorious feeling of independence you’re talking about. To the Bastille, my friend!
Patty FletcherAugust 16, 2021
Thanks for reading and commenting.
joanmylesAugust 16, 2021
Fabulous, so proud of you both!