That Voice I Shouldn't Be Used To

Background info: In the city where I live there is a public/private van that picks up disabled individuals and provides door-to-door service. Although I definitely prefer the independence of public transportation and not have to rely on these rides, unfortunately my family's house is in the middle of the suburban woods and isolated from any form of public transportation. 


Rain fell wildly and angrily from the sky that evening after dinner. We were cold, our jeans clung to our legs, and I shivered as the AC blasted above us in the van that picked us up. As I shivered and tried to dry off by wiping off my wheelchair's armrests and seat, the driver made empty conversation as he went about strapping my wheelchair down. First were the two back wheel locks, then the two front ones, 
"Alright let's get you out of this rain eh? Hahaha" 
"Heh, yeah."  I mumbled. What was he chuckling about? There was nothing funny about being drenched in the rain. 
"So had you been waiting long? Did you notice that I came early? I came early for you!" He said eagerly.
"No we hadn't been waiting too long. Thanks for coming earlier, we appreciate it."  
He then headed to the front of the bus and closed the passenger side door, the lights inside the van shut off automatically. The only source of light was the streetlamp a few feet away from the van, but that was blurry at best as it tried to dodge past the frenzy of the windshield wipers. I could feel my friend R immediately tense up as she sat there in awe of her first wheel chair-van riding experience. I realized I had forgotten to explain to her beforehand that it was required they lock my wheelchair up with what would look like 500 tie-downs and seat belts.
The driver finished putting the two front tie-downs on my wheels and then strapped on a seat belt over the orange velcro belt he had already put on me. It doesn't matter that I already have a seat belt on my wheelchair, the other five seat belts across me were required, as I had been told countless number of times. After he finished putting all the safety precautions on me he went outside again to fold the ramp back up,
"Umm Sandy, I have.. a lot of observations right now. Like, are you okay? Is this normal? What is going on right now?" In her typical fashion R already had a scowl on her face it was the one where the alarm in her gut instinct just went off. 
"Yeah they have to do this. It's just for safety reasons. I've had this driver before though, just warning you -- he's a talker."
"Okay but.. what if something happens to you? Like what if I weren't here? It.. well.. it just doesn't look like you would be able to get out of the van if something bad happened."
"I know, you're right. I've always wondered that myself just never asked." 

The driver got back inside his seat and marked down some information on his clipboard. Instead of turning the van lights on though he put his glasses on that... wait..
"Umm do your glasses have flashlights on them?" I asked uncertainly, thinking that maybe the rain and the blurry lights were playing tricks on me.
"They do have lights on them. Y'know.. it's so that I can keep my eyes.. on you." He glanced up at the rear view mirror and smirked at me. 
"Oh.. cool. You kinda look like an eye doctor." He laughed at my comment in an odd nervous falsetto. Next to me my friend R had a completely horrified and puzzled look on her face. I settled into my seat for a few minutes as we headed towards the highway,
"So you'll be my GPS right girl?" He looked at me.
"Yeah sure, no problem" I replied. 

About ten minutes passed before I decided to interrupt his odd rambling and his thousandth comment about how rainy it was, 
"Can I ask you a question?" He looked at me from the rear view mirror expectantly waiting,
"How would I get out if... well..if" It wasn't until half-way through my question that I realized asking him about a worst-case scenario late in the evening in the middle of monsoon-like rain that it probably wasn't the best timing, but I went ahead with it anyway,
"...if something bad happened? Like if there was an accident?"
"WWOOOOOWWwww. Really? I mean, THANKS for the vote of confidence."
"No- I'm sorry, I wasn't implying anything. I was just wondering, it's something I've always wanted to know." 
"Yeah? Sure. Well I hope you didn't just jinx me. I've never had anything happen to me though, knock on wood. Well you know, we're just real careful. I mean, it would never be anything so serious that I couldn't get you out or anything. Don't you trust me?" His voice bordered between that of a new father talking to his child and the host of some day-time kids show. R twisted in her seat and continued to scowl. 
"Oh sure, of course I trust you. I was just wondering, y'know. No big deal. Sorry - timing has never really been my strength."
"And here I was thinking that you were going to request a radio station or something.. hahahahaha" There was that laugh again. The sound of it echoed awkwardly in the odd silence and darkness inside the van, outside rain continued to beat down senselessly. For the rest of the trip back to my house I stayed silent and uncomfortable, rain water had seeped into the seat of my wheelchair, the back of my t-shirt felt like it had grown tentacles and would never let go of my skin. All I wanted was to peel off this wet fabric and denim from my body and jump into something DRY. 

Finally we were home. There is something demoralizing about having to sit in a wheelchair in a torrential downpour, at night. But for those 10 seconds that it takes for the ramp to deploy and lower itself to the ground, I felt beyond pathetic and helpless. 
"Let's get you out of that rain eh? Let's just get you out of that rain!" The driver stood on my driveway, maniacally repeating himself and shaking raindrops that trickled down his bald head - somehow he still had that silly grin on his face. At that moment I decided that when you try to hurry those ramps down, it will only seem like it'll take another five minutes to finally touch ground. 
But finally it did and my friend and I clambered out of our wet clothes and changed into dry pajamas, exhausted from the day, the weather, his cackling falsetto laugh that he seemed to hurriedly scotch-tape to the end of every statement he made, the massive dinner.. When we were both in bed and about ready to pass out R openly expressed her concern with me: 

"Sandy that was really creepy. Are the drivers usually like that?"
"Nah, most of the time I just sit there with my iPod on and they don't bother me. He's a special one though, he's always like that." 
"I just keep thinking like, if it were me on that van -- you know, he wouldn't talk to me like he talked to you. In fact, did you notice? He didn't talk to me in the same way he talked to you."
"Oh... well.. no I didn't really notice. I don't really pay attention to this stuff as much as I should."
"He knows that's not how you talk to a 20 something year-old woman. He knows because he didn't talk to me like that. Ugh it was just so creepy!" 
"I guess I don't notice the difference in way people treat me. I don't know why." 
"Well, it's probably because you expect it at this point. You're used to it. I noticed that when we went to Vegas, everyone treated you with that voice."
"I mean I know that it's wrong but I've never known how to address it. I don't know how to without sounding rude or brusque or frustrated. I just accept it and then I'm always trying to prove myself 500 times harder than I really should to make up for their assumptions."

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