The Great Scooter Odyssey

Dan* came to the Center because he was poor, in pain, and had lost his Medicare-funded, motorized scooter while on a trip to see his mother in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His plan was to get to Tulsa by bus, leaving Spokane on the Greyhound line and then switching, in Montana, to the Jefferson line that serves the central United States.

His journey got off to a bad start even before he boarded the bus in Spokane. After setting aside his scooter so it could be stowed on the bus, he tripped over luggage and fell hard, injuring his knee. He got on the bus anyway but many hours later, in Wyoming, he was in so much pain from the fall that he had to be taken off the bus and

The elusive scooter

hospitalized. He never did make it to Tulsa. And neither did his scooter. Because it wasn’t a luggage item, the scooter had not been tagged. It had simply vanished and after trying, unsuccessfully, to locate it and get it returned to him, Dan sought help from the Center for Justice.

The find-the-scooter challenge was handed to senior CFJ volunteer Bob Rosen who quickly realized that he should consult with another CFJ volunteer, Randy Heinnaman because, Rosen knew, Heinnaman worked at Greyhound and might have some expertise on how to find missing items, including large items like a missing 250 pound motorized scooter.

In fact, Heinnaman remembered seeing the scooter and even remembered the circumstances under which he’d been asked to stow the maroon and grey vehicle in the storage compartment of the bus that Dan boarded that day. With help from Greyhound’s local manager, Randy began to hunt the system for the scooter, a task complicated because Greyhound’s huge lost & found collection in Dallas was then being moved from one warehouse to another. There was not even a phone number for the new warehouse. Randy then began calling bus stations along the way between Spokane and Tulsa, to see if anyone remembered unloading the scooter. No luck.

Finally, as a last resort, and just days before the Center was planning to abandon the case, Randy entered information about the scooter into an antiquated computerized message system used by the bus company. This was on a Monday. On Wednesday he arrived to work at Greyhound to behold a small miracle. There was the scooter, freshly arrived from Denver.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Randy said. “I was so excited I had to call Bob at home to tell him what had happened.”

Although the hardest part of reuniting Dan with his scooter was over, there were other complications. For starters, now that Bob and Randy had found the scooter, they’d lost track of the client. Because Dan was poor, he didn’t have a permanent residence. Instead, he’d been staying with a succession of friends and it took a while to track him down. The other complication is that the batteries in the scooter were dead and an attempt to charge them failed. Moreover, under the strict Medicare rules, the technicians authorized to work on the scooter to bring it back to life were prohibited from working on the scooter at the bus station. The scooter was only authorized for household use, so it could only be repaired at Medicare expense if it were at a residence.

The story had a happy ending this summer when, a year after the dreadful bus trip, Dan found his own, permanent residence and was reunited with his repaired scooter.

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