Travel With Charlie–Lessons From Experience

This is a compilation of articles written through June 2002 by Charlie Zell for the newsletter of the Organization of Macular Friends in Sacramento, California.


Chapters

(Use back button to return)
 
About the Author

Travel Companions

Why Travel?

Mobility

Let’s Go For a Walk

Vision and Seeing

Let Your Ears Be Your Eyes

A Computer and You

The Final Journey, Part 1

The Final Journey, Part 2

Friends, Neighbors, and Relations: Alternative Sources for Transportation



About the Author

Charlie Zell was president of the Organization of Macular Friends in Sacramento, California. He joined the OMF in its first year and organized numerous tours for the group. Charlie and his wife, Evelyn, lived in Sacramento and traveled extensively throughout the the world.

Charlie was a docent at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, where he has served for over twenty years. He was active in many other organizations, as well. Uncle Sam furnished Charlie his first overseas journey in WWII, and since then, he traveled in almost 30 different countries. He believed that “you do not have to be blind to travel, but if you are, don’t let it slow you down”.

Before retiring in 1985, Charlie was a transportation engineer, planner, and researcher, working for nine years in public transportation. This background influenced his approach and his thoughts on mobility for the vision impaired.

Sadly, Charlie is no longer with us, but his spirit and humor live on.


Travel Companions

First, I would like to introduce you to my travel companions. They make my travels easier and enjoyable. I carry them in a small tote bag for local trips, and for major trips they are in my backpack or coat pocket. Two of my companions help me see more. One is a hand-held lighted magnifer. It is very compact, but with a good size lens. It uses two AA batteries and came with a nice soft case. You should try out the different ones to find the correct power for you. I purchased mine by mail.

The other is a monocular. It lets me see things at a distance. I own two, but carry only the smaller one on most trips. It helps me read signs and see traffic signals. The use of it takes a little practice, and finding what you want to see takes a little effort, but the more I use it, the better it gets. The monocular costs about as much as the magnifier.

Traveling always involves a lot of waiting. This time can be wasted or put to value and entertainment. My third companion is a small pocket size tape player and radio. It plays the Talking Book tapes and regular tapes. The radio receives both AM and FM. The tape player will also record on tape. This is handy if you want to take notes. Earphones are the best way to listen to it. Mine uses two AA batteries. I am amazed how long the batteries last, but I always carry an extra pair. I am on how many books I go through while traveling on Regional Transit (RT). Some books may require more concentration than the travel environment permits. That is when I listen to the radio.

For longer trips, my companion is a deck of large print playing cards. On Amtrak, I can generally find a table to play on. In hotel rooms, there is always a table. At home, it is a good way to pass the time while waiting for transportation. Cards are available from dealers in low vision products. I purchased mine by mail, as it is easier tor me.


Why Travel?

If I cannot see very well, why would I want to travel? My eyes will not get any better, so I see all that I can while I can. You may be able to see more than you realize. Seeing is visual recognition. Low vision clinics can teach how to see more, or you can do it yourself. It takes a little effort and imagination. Even if you do not see well, seeing something more than your four walls should be an improvement. Travel involves new experiences and meeting new and interesting people. You may meet other low vision people along the way. In all of my travels I have met the nicest and friendliest people. Everybody is most helpful when I ask for help. I have never encountered a threatening situation.

If you consider traveling only as transportation, you are missing a lot. Every trip should be a new seeing experience. Look where you are going and have been. While walking, stop frequently, and look around. You may not be able to see street signs, but you can learn new landmarks. In a car or bus, look out all the windows. When you concentrate on one window, you miss more than half.

Worried about getting lost? First you should know where you want to go. Have a specific address or building name. Learn how to get there the best you can before leaving home. For complex instructions I write the directions in large letters so I can read them. I am never embarrassed to ask directions. As you travel, keep looking for landmarks. They are your navigational aids, like street signs are for others. A traveling friend is always helpful and helps overcome any loneliness while traveling.


Mobility

Being a person with low vision, it is helpful to remember two rules from the military. “Mobility is a state of mind” and “Confidence is a force multiplier.” These two rules are closely related and can be applied by us for a fuller enjoyment of life.

It is very easy to rationalize why we cannot travel. Take a few minutes, and think about it. The bottom line is that you do not know how or what services are available to you. If you have had a less than satisfactory experience, you may have given up. Do not feel discouraged. Travels with Charlie will inform you of services available to you and other helpful hints on traveling and confidence building.

The first obstacle we encounter when leaving home is crossing the street. This can put the fear of God in the strongest person. Always cross at the intersection. If you have a white cane, use it, but do not consider it a magic wand. You have the responsibility to look out for your own safety. Cross where there are signals, if possible. Do not be in a hurry. Wait for several signal changes, and observe how traffic moves, and in what order. Use your monocular to better see the signals. If there is a pedestrian signal, start walking when it turns green. Keep walking at your normal speed when the signal starts to flash. You will have plenty of time to cross safely. If there are others waiting to cross, follow them, or ask them to tell you what the signal is. Keep looking and listening for traffic while crossing. Soon you wiII build your confidence.


Let’s Go For a Walk

Let’s go for a walk. Since I can no longer drive, I do a lot of walking and am in much better health. Sometimes I am amazed at how easy it is to walk to places, and the more you do it, the easier it gets. Walking is both exercise and transportation. It is like getting two for one.

Last month, we crossed the street. This month, we’ll stay on the sidewalk. If you have a white cane, use it. If not, do not stay home. Walking requires you to do two things more or less at the same time: 1) look where you are going, and 2) look where your feet are going. The latter is the most important, especially where trees have caused sidewalks to crack. Falling down can hurt. Haste makes waste. I believe that the best way to learn how to see or detect tripping obstacles or uneven sidewalks is to do a lot of walking, and being careful. We each learn things differently, so pay attention to what you are doing, and learn from experience.

Many sidewalks have dips for driveways. These can be hazardous. Be on the look out for driveways into businesses and a person’s garage. Wheelchair ramps are also depressions and are normally found at intersections. If you prefer the ramp to stepping over the curb, use the ramps.

Sidewalks are cluttered with poles, fire plugs, newspaper boxes, etc. Be on the lookout for them. While walking, stop frequently to see where you are by looking for landmarks. Keeping track of landmarks makes it easier for you to find your way back again.


Vision and Seeing

Have you ever wondered why some people see more than others? I have wondered why entomologists can see more bugs, and botanists can see more plants. It is not that their eyes are better, but their brain has been trained to recognize what they see. I prefer to think that vision is how your eyes work, and seeing is the brain correlating the visual message into intelligence. Having listened to several books on macular degeneration, I have found that others think as I do.

Improving your seeing without improving your vision is a reality. You can do it! I work at it every day, and in the process, I may irritate my wife and bother some frends and strangers. The questions I ask are “What is that?” or “Is that such and such?” This is how I educate my brain to interpret the vision message. When you make a concerted effort, you will be amazed at the improvements in your seeing.

Another approach is seeing by association. You were trained in this when you drove. A yellow diamond sign is a warning sign, a green sign is a guide or directional sign. You can generally separate a red wine from a white one by looking at the color or transparency of the wine and bottle. Fortunately, there are only a limited number of wines in each color. Some names are short or long, and some have two words. By looking at the size (long or short, tall or squat, etc.) you can learn to recognize each bottle of wine. Marketing people frequently make their product easy to recognize by special colors and patterns. Try this out when you are in a supermarket, and see how many different things you recognize without reading the label.

Another way of using association is by relating one thing to another. While walking, the surface goes from light to dark: you are at an intersection, because concrete is light and asphalt is black. A cup is on a saucer, not a plate. You can think of many other examples, then expand the process to other items for identification.

Now how about reading? Some words are long and others are short. Some words are associated with other words. When it comes to recognizing the individual letters in a word, you can train your brain to better separate letters that have similar appearance. Examples are m and n, or p and b, or q and g. You can use flash cards for this. Each card has a lowercase or capital letter on it. Have a friend flash the card toward you and call out the letter. You’ll soon find some letters are easier than others.


Let Your Ears Be Your Eyes

We have let our ears be our eyes from birth. How could this be? It is called voice recognition. We use it every day on the telephone. Now that we do not see as well as we used to, our ears have become more important.

We more or less make it an automated habit to recognize people on the phone by their voice. You can also improve your visual recognition by giving attention to voice. This requires the person to say something. No problem. Make a statement or ask a question. “It’s sure a nice day.” or “How are you today?” If that doesn’t work, say something like “Gee, I can’t place your name.” Nothing to be embarrassed about, as we seniors are known for having memory problems. You can also help the other person by saying “I’m so and so. I’m sorry that I cannot remember your name.” Good luck.

Your ears can also help you cross the street. The simplest case is where a traffic signal makes a different sound for each street. Which sound for which street? Be patient and observant. Let the signal change several times and watch what traffic does. In some cases, you may have to push the signal button several times. Do not rush, and try to remember what happened for the next time you are there.

The most complex case is an intersection without signals. Plan ahead. Do your homework. It may help to have a sighted person with you to confirm your observations. Stand at an intersection, and listen and observe. Relate the time you hear an approaching vehicle to the time it passes you. Then relate that time to the time it would take you to cross the street. Don’t cut it too close. Throw in a little extra time as a safety factor. Note that you need more time for vehicles traveling on the other side of the street. Note that different vehicles make different noises and at different loudness levels. Caution, some vehicles are very quiet. As an example, my daughter drives a hybrid vehicle, a Toyota Prius, which operates on an electric engine at low speeds and a gasoline engine at higher speeds. When she is at slow speeds, her car is very quiet. While this vehicle is really good for our environment, it makes discerning car traffic sounds difficult. By making a concentrated effort, your ears can complement your eyes. Maybe more factual in this case would be, “Let your ears help your eyes.” Do not rely entirely on your ears. Also remember that a white cane is not a magic wand. You have to use the same caution with traffic, whether you use a cane or not. Again, this is not easy, but you can master it with a lot of practice. It is all part of the price of mobility.

Do you watch TV? I watch and listen to TV. I sit up close to the set. I have found that I can enjoy many programs with my eyes closed. Examples are the news, game, and talk shows. I have found that my hearing is improved by the use of earphones. This also lets me listen to TV when my wife does not care to hear the program. Some TVs have a jack so you can plug earphones in. If you mute the sound on the TV, you also mute the earphones. In my case, I tune the TV from the VCR. I have a small amplifier attached to the VCR. When the TV is muted, I can still hear the program via the VCR. I can also adjust the volume for better hearing. If this is too complicated, phone me.

Talking books are our most common use of letting our ears be our eyes. If you have not signed up for talking books, do so right now. Their eligibility requirements are easy. You just have to be unable to read normal print. This is my interpretation. The actual rules may be a little more. In my case, I believe that talking books are the best advantage of being vision impaired.

Each person receives a special tape player that lets you listen to talking books. You cannot use a regular tape player. The tape player is a very good piece of equipment, except that it is too heavy to carry with you around the house or while traveling, and it does not include earphones. The latter is no problem, as ear phones are not expensive, and they are available at Radio Shack and most other stores. Before buying earphones, put them on and listen to them. Everybody is not the same. It is important that they fit comfortably and are easy to use. Radio Shack and Circuit City have many different sets. Also take note of the length of the cord. A short cord ties you to the player. Too long of a cord can get in the way.

Why would you want earphones anyway? First, the speakers on tape players may not be very good. With earphones, the sound is sent directly into your ears. This cuts out some outside noises and sounds, and you will hear better.

The standard earphone has a cord that limits your mobility while listening. There are two types of wireless earphones. One transmits the sound by a light beam. You must always be looking at the transmitter. I do not recommend them. The other uses a radio signal very much like a wireless phone (not a cell phone). The range may be up to 100 feet from the transmitter. These are available at Radio Shack, Circuit City, and many other electronic stores. The cost is not cheap. Prices may range from $60 to over $100.

There are two very important considerations. First, ease of use. Are the controls simple and easy to use? Second, are they comfortable? You will be using them for long periods of time. How well do they fit your head? Are they too heavy or press too tightly on your ears? Do they make your ears too warm? It may take several days for you to find that there are problems. Check the store’s return policy. Shop around.

The wireless ear phones are great at home, but you can enjoy your talking books while traveling. That is when I do most of my listening. Never a wasted moment. You will be amazed at how much listening you can do while waiting. As noted above, the free tape player is an anchor. You can buy very small and easy to use tape players that will play talking book tapes. The one I use is small, and it easily fits into my pocket. It is unbelievable how many hours I get from two AA betteries. Of course this is with a price. Such players cost at least $100 – $200, but there may be some cheaper ones, too. Try your local low vision dealer, or give me a call.

If your hearing is poor, investigate hearing aids. If you wear hearing aids, there may be some problems in using earphones. As the cow said when she was standing on her udder, “And you think you’ve got problems.”


A Computer and You

Today, we hear so much about computers. Few of us understand computers. Many of us with gray hair just give up saying “They are much too complicated for me to understand, and if I did, what use would one be to me?”

It’s a funny thing, but seniors are now using computers more and more. I would say that this may have been caused by two things. First, computers have become user friendly, or in other words, easier to use. Second, they have found that computers let them do things they want to.

If you can type, computer use is much like using a typewriter, except you can do a lot more with less effort. If you do not type, you become a “hunt and pecker”. This slows you down, but it’s no big deal. Computers are easier to use than some VCRs.

Today I would say that among the seniors, e-mail is the most popular use of a computer. E-mail lets you easily and rapidly communicate with other computer users such as your friends and family. All of this without postage or long distance phone charges.

Word processing is the computer term that applies to writing. It works just like a typewriter, but much easier. Some of the advantages are tbe built-in spell checker, thesaurus, and easy editing; and you do not have to retype everything when you make a change. Your computer keeps a copy on file, and you do not have to shuffle any papers.

So you don’t see so well and wonder how you can see to use a computer? First, you can get large print key labels. They are easy to apply, and with my 20/400 vision, I have no problem. You can also buy’ a large print keyboard. The next important thing is the monitor or screen. Do not connect your computer to a TV monitor. It lacks the quality for clear reading.

You do not want to do the cheap on your monitor. They come in different sizes, and the larger the better. Each monitor shows the same things. Therefore, the larger the monitor is, the larger and and easier the material is to read. I would say that 15″ would be the smallest monitor you should consider. I use a 17″ monitor and will upgrade to a larger size when my vision becomes poorer. With my 17″ monitor, I can read 18 point font, but I cannot read it when printed, because it is too small. Each monitor can be adjusted for resolution. Here, the smaller numbers mean larger images on the screen. You may need help in changing the resolution.

Most word processing programs make it easy to change the size of the font or type. Select a size that is easy for you to read. Before you print your letter you can reduce the font to a normal size. 10 and 20 point font is most commonly used, but I give consideration to others who may not have 20/20 vision. I print in 14 or 16 point font. When I write a complaint about something I cannot read, I use an extra large font to make the point that I have a hard time reading.

The print size is one factor in legibility. Another important factor is the style of the font. Your computer comes with many different font styles. Take time to test the differnt ones to see what you like best. Generally, the bolder the font, the easier to read. It is easy to make any font bolder.

Text is not the only thing displayed on the monitor. There are symbols (icons) and menus. You may need help to change their sizes for easier reading.

After you have done all of the above, but still have a problem reading things, there is one more tool. Some computers come with a program that will enlarge everything to different degrees. With other computers, you will need to buy an additional program. These enlarged images are not without a price. First, you have to be careful that you do not blow it up so much that it becomes fuzzy. Like any other magnifier, the enlarged area is only a small part of the total. Sometimes, it is like looking at an elephant through a pin hole and trying to tell what part you are looking at. With practice, these problems can be more or less overcome.

You will have to sit close to the monitor to see. I have found that the center of the monitor should be at eye level. You do not see as well when you have to look up or down. You may need somebody to build a support for the monitor. I do not recommend any computer that has the keyboard and monitor as one unit.

As you become more skillful with your computer, you may want to explore other applications. One is a spreadsheet. It is designed to let you record things like you would on a ledger sheet. You can do all kinds of arithmetic and calculations. This is very handy to keep records of your investments. Another program Iets you write checks and keep track of your balances.

There are several old sayings that I will close with. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And the turtle only gets ahead when it sticks its neck out. You, too, can use a computer.


The Final Journey, Part 1

As usual, I am responsible for all thoughts in “Travel with Charlie.” They are not legal or medical advice, and they are not the policy of the Organization of Macular Friends or MD Support. Some thoughts and options expressed in this article may be sensitive to you. None of us are immortal.

This article deals with couples; however, portions are applicable to single people as well.

Earlier this year my wife was transported to the emerency room of a hospital. She had severe pneumonia, even though she had had two pneumonia shots. She nearly died. She was there for about a month. From the hospital she was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, where she stayed for about another month. Even with all this care and treatment, she had not regained enough strength to be able to come home. The next stop was a convalescent hospital. The good news is that each move placed her closer to home, and my travel distance reduced. She is now home and doing well.

My wife, lilke many other macular friends’ spouses, is my eyes and wheels. When she left for the hospital, so went my eyes and wheels. What was I to do? Who would cook my meals, do the shopping, write the checks to pay bills, or what else there is to do to live a normal life? Fortunately, this was for only three months, but had she died, it would be forever.

Some of my friends have encountered this same situation. Frequently, this has been a devastating experience. They have had to make a major adjustment in their life, including finding another place to live or having to become overly dependent upon others. Nobody was happy.

Most of you know that I am not an ordinary person. I have seen what has happened to others, and I’Il be darned if I will let it happen to me. This article discusses some of my observations of others and some alternatives to consider.

Have you discussed death with your spouse, close relative, or care giver? If not, you should. The sooner, the better. It is all too easy to ignore the issue or to assume that one or the other will die first. Unfortunately, this assumption may be in error, for none of us can foresee the future that well. In any case, there are some things you should do to make sure your desires are followed and reduce the burden on the survivor and loved ones.

You should have a will to cover your estate, regardless of how small or large it may be. You should have a living will so that you will have the one person you have chosen to make the decisions you desire for you when you are unable to do so for yourself. There are other related documents such as a durable power of attorney for health care and a natural death act declaration that ensures that you are cared for in the way you desire when you cannot talk for yourself. When you are admitted to a hospital, you or your spouse will be asked very difficult questions about what should be done under certain conditions. These documents will make life a lot easier at a difficult time. ConsuIt your attorney and doctor for details.

Have you made your final funeral arrangements? You will be asked this question when you are admitted to a convalescent hospital. This is very easy. I suggest you visit a funeral home of your choice. Tell them what you want to consider, and hear what they can offer. Discuss arrangement details and price. In California, they have to give you an itemized statement. If you do not like what they have to offer, you can go to another one. When you find what is to your liking, you can have this put into a document. A copy is kept by the funeral home, and you should place a copy with a copy of your will. Some may ask for a deposit or payment, but you do not have to pay for services until they are received. You should know how your estate will pay for the services if you have sufficient funds. If this will be a problem, make payments on an installment plan. It is much cheaper than an insurnace policy at your age.

The above are relatively simple administrative procedures. The most difficult issues relate to emotions. Emotions may make the above very difficult because some people cannot address dying. In that case, I feel sorry for them, but I do not have the background, knowledge, or training to make recommendations for them. Several differeint scenarios are discussed below. Some are from real life and others are hypothetical.

A couple well into their 80s were good friends of mine. She was a good cook and played the organ. She had macular degeneration and became very dependent upon her husband, who had heart problems and emphysema. They were getting ready to move into an assisted living complex; but before the arrangements were made, he died. She was devastated! She was homebound, because she could not drive, could not read her mail, and she was all alone. To move, you have to decide what to do with a lifetime accumulation of stuff, and this takes eyes. There seemed to be a never ending pile of paperwork. She had to call upon her daughter for help. She lost control of her environment, and she died shortly thereafter.

Remember that life is like a ball of string. The closer to the end, the faster it goes. There may never be a tomorrow!

In the above case, they waited too long before making an adjustment in their living arrangements. Also, they did not have a way to address what each would do if the other died. These problems occur all too frequently.a>

In many cases it is assumed that the care giver will out live the care receiver. The future of the care giver needs to be planned for, too. The care giver may have made the care receiver overly-dependent to satisfy the giver’s emotional needs. The caregiver may now be at a loss when the care receiver dies and may have no purpose in life. This is not a healthy mental condition. If partners talk over these problems frankly and have alternative plans, they can have peace of mind, and the survivor will have fewer problems in adjusting.

With my military experience and having been a professional planner, I had to look into the future with vision, so I tend to look at the future as a series of alternative plans. This view allows me to consider various scenarios which represent the best case, the worst case, and variations on each. Looking at you and your mate’s future is important if you are to be prepared for different situations. These plans should address both financial and emotional problems. Everybody is different. You may need professional help.

The development of independent living skills is important for the vision impaired. These skills can improve one’s quality of life. But where can you learn such skills? My first suggestion is to check into independent living skills, or low vision rehabilitation, classes. Most state agencies and the Veterans Administration can introduce you to such programs. Some additional suggestions include:

  • Network with others in a support group.
  • Learn by your mistakes.
  • Keep trying to improve your life style.
  • Never give up. Others have survived, and you can too!

If you have reached this point in this long article, I give you credit. You may be one step closer to a better future.


The Final Journey, Part 2

Part 1 dealt mainly with couples, or where there was a relationship between a caregiver and care receiver. Part 2 addresses the person that lives alone. I recommend that you reread Part 1, as many portions applicable to both parts are not repeated here.

Recently one of our dear members who lived very comfortably alone developed dementia. This can happen to any of us, and like dying, many do not like to think ahout it. There is a difference between the two. When you die, you are dead, and it is hoped that you have taken the necessary actions for your final arrangements. Dementia presents a different situation. First, it generally develops slowly. By the time you really need help, you do not have the capabilities to do anything about it. Now you need more help than ever to continue to live. You lack the ability to clearly express your desire on critical health issues.

You should note that, for people our age (over 70) long term health care insurance is no longer affordable. Refer back to Part 1 to see what you need to do so that others will know what you want done for you when you can no longer speak for yourself.

Do you have a close friend or relation that checks on you frequently? If not, this should be your number one priority. When all else fails, you may need help from a social service agency.

The bad news is that the above two scenarios (death and dementia) are not the only ones you need to be concerned about and plan for. There is not a shortage of horror stories about a single person needing help at home, and nobody knows it.

How could this happen! Even those who are hale and hearty have a stroke or heart attack without warning. Many of us old-timers have a tendency to fall. Many broken hips are caused by people just getting out of a chair. I do not know what thoughts go through a person’s mind as they lay disabled, just out of reach of the phone, and hours and days go by without any one knowing. There are various services you can subscribe to where you can press a device that you wear to summon help. Another approach is to have somebody phone or check up on you at least once a day.

The good news is that help has arrived. But what should they do if you are unable to speak for yourself? Refer back to Part 1 concerning all of the paper work you should have done. But who knows where those papers are? Your relative or friend may know, but they may not be present when help arrives. You may wish to make copies of necessary paper work. Place them in a sealed envelope marked “To be opened only in a medical emergency”. This envelope may be given to your apartment resident manager, or placed in a conspicuous location in your home.

There is the old saying: “You can only be certain about two things: taxes and death.” We do not like either one, but we can plan for them. Your planning may be your greatest gift to your loved ones by relieving them of many details and headaches at a critical and emotional time.


Friends, Neighbors and Relations:
Alternative Sources for Transportation

When you could drive, you may have called upon the AAA for help. Today when you need help finding a ride, you should remember the AAA’s of successful alternative transportation. The three A’s are attitude, attitude, and attitude. If you do not have a good attitude, you may have difficulties in getting a ride.

Nobody enjoys being around an old grump. Sure we all have our problems, but do not burden your driver with them. We also need to remember that, just because we have a vision handicap, nobody owes us any special favors.

Being friendly and courteous is very easy. Sometimes it may be difficult to maintain the proper balance as some things can be overdone. But they should never be omitted. Always thank your driver for the ride.

How well do you know your neighbors? The more you know and the better you know them, the better chance you may have of finding a ride. Learn their habits and routines. If they do not drive at night or on freeways, you should know this, so you will not ask for a ride that may require driving after dark or on a freeway. When do they go shopping? Learn to coordinate your activities with theirs.

Nobody should be considered as being at your call or beckoning at a moments notice. Not even your spouse or child. It pays to plan and to be organized. It’s great when your driver thinks that it’s nice to give you a ride because you are on time. Know where you want to go and what you want to get or do.

A simple “thank you” is a reward that should never be omitted. But if you wish to do more than this, it can be a problem. Few will acccept your offer to buy a tank of gas, but you can always offer. Treating your driver to lunch or dinner now and then is an offer that is welcomed. When you make the offer be specific: set a date, and you can suggest a restaurant or ask if your driver has a choice. An appropriate present at the right time is helpful. It needs not be expensive. Know your driver’s likes and dislikes, so that an unwanted or useless gift is not given. A cash gift must be given with discretion. It may be welcomed or scorned. Remember birthdays, holidays, and special events. A card can be a nice rememberance.

Spread the business around. Do not call on a person too frequently. The more friends, neighbors and relations you have, the easier it is to spread the burden. It is also a good idea to have an ace up your sleeve. That is a person you rarely call upon, but may be able to help when you are in dire need.

You do not make points in criticizing a person’s driving or the way they go. If you don’t like it, you have to choose: keep quiet, find somebody else, or stay home.

The more friends and neighbors you have, the better your chances are for finding a ride. Get to know all of your neighbors, and become friends with them. Do not forget the three A’s: attitude, attitude, and attitude.

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