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  • Writer's picturePeta

Peta, what happened to your car?

This episode is a very personal one. I even asked my Instagram followers if I should share this story.

There are many other more important things happening in this world but I hope by sharing this story other disabled people won't have to go through a similar experience.

Mistakes happen. I hope learning happens too.

Contact Peta

Instagram @petahooke



Episode Transcript:

Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Send podcast. The podcast, answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. My name is Peta. I have cerebral palsy and I love to answer your questions. This week, I'm finally sitting down to tell you about my car. There was a little bit of an incident, and I'm finally ready to tell you. But before I get started, I just want to ask you if you have any questions or you think there's an area that I haven't covered yet on the podcast. Please let me know. I really appreciate every single question that's ever been sent to me.

[00:00:44] Please never think that there's anything like a wrong or politically incorrect question when you contact me to make curiosity is the key to understanding. I'm open, honest, and I'm just the friend, you know is that wants to help. So if you'd like to ask me a question, there are three ways you can do so. One. Find my Instagram. My handle is @petahooke to find my email, which is or via my website OK. Without any further ado, let's get started with the car story.

[00:01:40] OK, I'm going to be really honest this week, I've been hesitant to talk about this. I do not want you guys to think that I'm self-centred or self obsessed in some way by telling this story, but it's something that really happened to me. And I think it really speaks to how much people don't understand how important things like transport is for people with disabilities. And while this is only one story and accidents do happen, I feel like it's important for me to use my voice. And hopefully that means that these sort of events happen less and less in the future. I drive a Volkswagen converted car that was funded through the NDIS. It took 511 days fit NDIS to approve my car conversion, plus an additional six months on top of that to get the car actually converted. So it's probably no surprise I'm very attached to my car because of that. I mean, I even just googled the average gestation for humans. The amount of time that a female is pregnant is 280 days, and it took 511 days for my car to get approved. Plus the six months for it to get built. So we're now looking at 694 days or thereabouts. I don't know why that comparison is relevant to me, but I guess, yeah, my car is sort of like my child, I guess, I don't know. It just seems irrelevant. Just go with it.

[00:03:39] I love my car. It defines my independence, and it makes me feel like me, to be honest, I thrive on independence and control and my car is a true illustration of that. I feel completely equal to everybody else on the road. And I love it. Whenever I get my car serviced or I have to give it over to someone else, I'm always a little bit anxious. On the morning of May, driving my car to go get its annual service, I recorded a little video that I was planning on posting on my stories that day. But once the events of that day completely unfolded, I decided not to post. So let's go back to past Peta and some editing for me. Hopefully, I'll be able to embed the videos audio here.

Speaker 2 [00:05:10] Hello. Good morning. How are you this morning? I am off to do something that I hate to do and that is to get my car serviced. And the reason why I hate it is like my car, the VW, and I take it to the recommended place that is for converted VW. It can be challenging because they don't. I've never seen a converted VW before. And obviously, as soon as I pump out of my car, there is no front seat for them driving into the city centre. So I have to sort of explain that, explain that my car has gas cylinders in it that make it go up and down the ramp, go up and down. And I can't drive it. Once I popped out of this, I have to get somebody to push buttons and it's just sorry. I'm not really explaining it very well, but it is very unpleasant because. Well, it's just difficult to be honest, and because obviously I can't get on to the shuttle or I can't get a higher income from them. I have to get a taxi back home. I know a lot of people with disabilities rely on taxis, but I've had some really awful experiences with taxis. It's probably been the most consistent in feeling it. You know, just that feeling. This is just something that I have to do to get my car service because if I don't, I lose all my independence, so I have to do something that you know we all have to do. And I'm going like. Have a good day, everyone. Let's hope my experience today, it's painless, easy. And quick, because I have a lot of work.

Peta [00:07:22] All Peta. I wish you knew. This was not going to be quick or painless. I feel like I sort of jinxed it when I listen back to that video. I thought I'd done everything right. I pray organised with VW to get my car serviced. I had had my car serviced at the service centre once before the service centre in particular had been recommended to me by the company that converted my car. When I arrived at the service centre, the customer service representative clearly understood what my car was, understood that it was converted. And they told me that they service one of these once a week. I was still quite hesitant to give over the keys, though, because if you haven't learnt how to drive with hand controls instinctively, you want to use your feet if something goes wrong. My dad proved this to me very early on with my first car. He thought he'd quickly move it in the driveway and he accidentally crashed it into the retaining wall different car, but illustrated to me that people who haven't been taught with hand controls first don't instinctively go to use their hand to brake. So with this past knowledge, I said to the service representative on the day of getting my car serviced, I am more than happy to move the car onto the service floor so the team can put it into neutral and push it onto the lift and therefore get serviced. I'm more than happy to stick around like it's no problem this car means so much to me and I need it as it defines my independence. They service representative assured me that it would be fine. I questioned them a number of times and said, Are you sure? And they said, yes. So I went on my way, organised the taxi and went home.

[00:09:47] Then I get a phone call from the service manager about three or four hours later. I answered the phone and you get that tone that many of us have had where they say they have some bad news. Now my head originally went to Oh, right, OK. Clearly, it needs new tires or there's something wrong with the car, and I need to pay more money than just an annual service. But unfortunately, that wasn't the case. The service manager explained that one of his staff members had accidentally crashed it while trying to wash it after its service. I understand that accidents happen, but I was quite upset, obviously. And it's not just because my car was now damaged. It was because of the flow on effect and how this was going to affect my life going forward for the next number of weeks. I found out later that Volkswagen had called my conversion company and asked to hire another one so I could use that alternative car while my car was getting fixed. Now that to me is sort of laughable and it makes me really. Reconfirm the fact that people don't understand what it is to live with a disability. I drive my car myself. It is custom converted to my wheelchair, and you can not hire another car that is specific to me where I can drive it or my car goes through specific road where these specific to my wheelchair and my car, you can not hire a car like mine. Yes, you can hire ones where I could sit in the back. But that means that it requires me to have someone to drive me everywhere. And as someone who lives independently by themself, that makes life even more tricky. I really did feel that I ran up against the old adage that I wouldn't be doing anything anyway because people with disabilities just sit at home and do nothing right.

[00:12:29] Obviously, this podcast isn't a visual medium. I'm going to post some photos of the damage on my Instagram, but rest assured I did a pretty good job at damaging the car. From what I understand, after it was serviced. They went to go get it washed and somebody at the wash centre at Volkswagen tried to move it and crashed it. Into what I would think would be a pill or something of that nature. The whole boot panel of my car, which is where I enter, my car, was completely destroyed, the whole back window was smashed. So it was a fairly considerable amount of damage. There's a very important element to this story that I haven't told you yet. I have a removable panel over the foot pedals in the car. Because Volkswagen assured me that they serviced one of my cars every week. I assumed that they knew about this panel. It's really frustrating to know that despite me being told that they knew what they were doing, they clearly did not. When my dad went to go have a look the next day, the panel was still in place. I had not damaged my car at all. Up until this point. So its value, of course, has been affected by this event. And while yes, they did pay for the cost of the repairs and for a high car, which I could not drive. I didn't have my car for twenty three days. There was lots of reasons for that. It had to go to the panel. It is, of course, it then had to go to my conversion company to make sure the conversion was all right. Then we found out that they accidentally used the wrong colour for one panel of the car. So one panel of the car was randomly black and the rest of the car is grey. If they had just removed that panel over the foot pedal, maybe the person moving the car would have been able to break.

[00:14:58] I am very privileged that I have a family that are able and capable to drive me around. And while yes, I did cancel a lot of things in my life, both personally and professionally during this time because I didn't want to put other people out, I have to acknowledge without my parents, my life would have been very, very difficult during this period. Reflecting back on this experience. It really does concern me, the lack of understanding that these group of people had in regards to the importance of my time and the importance of my freedom and the importance of control and the importance of independence. As somebody with a disability. I hope that by me speaking at. It's just another example that people with disabilities do have full lives. We're very busy and things happen to us just like everybody else. The amount of dismissal that I felt really made me uncomfortable and really frustrated me to think that we're still at this point. That there is still an expectation that my parents will look after me as if I'm still in my childhood. There is still an expectation that somebody with a disability and an adult with a disability is not living a true adult life. I'm not one to want to make a fuss. I'm not one to complain, but I wanted to jump on Mike today to try and explain why this experience was so tiring and frustrating and demoralising and somewhat demeaning for me. .

[00:17:09] I don't know whether it's just my self-consciousness to think that you guys might be rolling your eyes right now and thinking Peta, there is a lot more going on in the world at the moment than your car being crashed. And that's a totally valid, totally valid thing. But. There are few things that really rattle me as a strong person with a disability, and that is when I don't have things that defined my independence. Whether it's a hoist breaking down or my car being crashed or my wheelchair being on the blink. Those are the times that I feel most disabled by my disability. I hope Volkswagen have learnt to listen. And realise how important cars are to disabled people. I hope that by this experience happening to me, it means that it won't happen to other people because they've learnt their lesson. Listen to disabled voices. Sometimes you don't know better. We do.

[00:18:36] Thank you for listening to my little story about my car. It's quite off brand for me to talk about my personal life on this podcast, so I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, can I encourage you to leave writing and review? Now I know I say this every week, but honestly, I read every single one of them and they mean so much to me. Until next week, guys have a good one by.


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