A small town is no place for a disabled person

Last week was a rough week for me, because I live in an area that has very limited public transportation.

The Joplin Business Expo

Last Wednesday was the 27th annual Joplin Business Expo.  An annual event put on primarily by the Joplin Chamber of commerce.  The event features about 130 businesses, non-profits, schools, etc. in the Joplin area.  The public is invited to come out and see what is available in our community.

The event has been held for the past few years at the Downstream Casino just over the state line in Quapaw, Oklahoma.  (This should tell you something about Joplin.)

I had been planning to attend this event for the past year.   I wanted to network with local business, non-profits and schools in hopes of making some professional connections and possibly book some speaking gigs.

Since I can not drive, my wife Kimberly had arranged to take that day off from work (we have tons of vacation days and struggle to find ways to use all of them) and accompany me to the event.

The morning of the event I was awoken just before 5 am by my wife who was nauseous.  As the sun rose a few hours later, her nausea was still apparent and was not getting any better.

By 9 she was dizzy, and I was beginning to fear that my planned day of networking was in serious jeopardy.

When lunchtime arrived, it was clear to the both of us that she was too sick to drive anywhere that day.

To say that I was upset would be an understatement.  I pouted.  I stomped around the house.  I punched the mattress with my fist.

On the surface it may have appeared that I was upset that Kim was unable to drive me.  Of course, that makes me look like an unsympathetic jerk who is so self-centered that he doesn’t’ care if his wife is sick.  That is furthers from the truth.  The truth was I was feeling frustrated about living in Joplin – a small town with a limited transportation system.

The incident made me face a fact that I try to avoid thinking about, a fact that always depresses me – that without Kimberly (or anyone who I can beg a ride from) I am limited on where I can go, how I can go and when I can go in this small town unless I drop some serious coins.

I investigated Uber.  Although Downstream is about 20 miles from where I live, it would cost me over $41 each way to get to downstream and back, and that does not include the tip to the driver!

I am not made of money.  I do not have nearly $100 to travel 20 miles.  That meant I was stuck at home and I would have to miss a big opportunity to launch my professional speaking career.

Although I was very quiet for nearly 2 days, not saying much to anyone and keeping to myself, I was not pouting – I was plotting a comeback from this setback.

I opened my Kindle app and found the books on SEO – Search Engine Optimization that I had downloaded samples of and started to peruse them.

I decided on SEO for Dummies by Peter Kent and I purchased it.  I spent Thursday morning reading the first three chapters, and the afternoon starting the laborious process of tweaking my web site to improve my visuality and ranking on search sites such as Google.

Joplin is a nice community and a perfect fit for many of the residents who live here.  However, for a disabled person who wants to be independent (which I believe most people take for granted) Joplin, or any small town with limited public transportation may not be the right fit. 

I know that I want my independence and freedom back that I gave up when I moved form Modesto California to here.  When Kim was sick in Modesto, I could hop on my scooter and get her meds or almost anything that she needed.  Here in Joplin that is not an option.  I want the ability to take care of my wife back.

After missing the expo, I vowed to find other ways to get my career off the ground with the goal of helping my family (my wife and myself) relocate to a bigger community when the time is right, and the right opportunity presents itself to us.

Until then, I trust that God has placed me here for a reason and I will work diligently to succeed despite my transportation issues.