Aretha Wright, 54, a motel maid who lives in Far Northeast Washington, didn't want to spend $5.30 for taxi fare to her job yesterday. So she stayed at home. To buy groceries, Wright walked a mile to the supermarket, then lugged two shopping bags full of food back home.
Stephen Black, 23, an unemployed resident of Southeast, said he missed two downtown job interviews last week because Metro bus drivers were on strike. Yesterday he thumbed his way dowtown to look for a job.
Of the 65 handicapped persons who normally attend a training program at the D.C. Occupational and Training Center, only five showed up yesterday. All of the handicapped students ride Metro buses.
Throughout the city thousands of persons who can afford no form of transportation other than Metrobus or subway have been stranded by the wildcat strike.
The effects of the strike were in evidence yesterday as many disgruntled Metro patrons sought alternative means of moving about the city and expressed some of their frustrations.
"This bus strike is just making it hard on the poor people," said Rebecca Booker, 30, a licensed practical nurse at George Washington Hospital.
"The reason I don't have a car is because I can't afford one. Now I've got to get out here and pay $6 a day to catch a taxi to work. I definitely can't afford that," said Booker, who lives in Far Southeast Washington.
D. Richard Artis, executive director of the D.C. Office on Aging, said 14,000 elderly Washington residents depend on Metro for daily transportaion.
"We have not received a large number of transportation complaints, but that is not to say they're not out there," said Artis. "The elderly feel the greatest impact of a transit strike because their lives are totally disrupted."
A 70-year-old Northeast Washington woman, who said she normally would have taken a bus downtown to go shopping, walked nearly a mile and a half yesterday from her home on B Street NE to a department store on Minnesota Avenue NE.
Halfway home, the woman - carrying two small packages and with perspiration dripping from her forehead expressed concern that she might become ill from being in the sun too long.
"The doctor says I'm not supposed to go out in the sun," said the woman, who asked not to be named. "I wanted to go out and buy a few things because I'm going out of town. But I didn't realize it was so hot or that the store was so far away."
Pearl Thorpe, a cleaning woman for the University of the District of Columbia, said she and her husband, Arthur, a messenger, at the Pentagon, have tried hard to cope with the difficulties and expense of getting to and from work during the strike.
"My husband has been thumbing his way to work," said Thorpe, who lives on Benning Road NE. "I have been paying $2.75 a day to catch a cab. It costs me 90 cents on the bus. I work from 5 to 11 at night and it's tough to get a taxi to bring me to Northeast that late at night.
"I belive the bus drivers have a right to fight for better pay and better conditions on the buses. At the same time, the poor person who has to struggle to get to his job is really suffering and I don't think that's right."
Wright, who works at the Virginia Avenue Howard Johnson's in Northwest, said she made elaborate arrangements with her son, who lives in Landover, to take her to work on Thursday and Friday, the first two days of the Metro walkout.
"My son would get up early and rush and take his baby to the baby sitter, then pick me up and take me to work," she said. Then he'd get to work late on his job at the Commerce Department.
"My son took me to work and the hotel gave me one-way fare back home. But I got tired of imposing on my son Friday and I asked my boss if they would pay the $5.30 taxi fare for me to come in. They said, 'No'".
Yesterday, Mrs. Wright said her employer gave her the option of paying her own cab fare or remaining away from work - without pay - until the Metro strike is resolved.
Vincent Gray, head of the D.C. Association for Retarded Citizens, said that several programs for the handicapped have been "heavily affected" by the strike.
"Three programs for the disabled have almost been devastated because our people don't have public transportation," said Gray. The programs are located on H Street NW, on Riggs Road NE and at St. Elizabeth Hospital.
"When our children are not able to catch a bus and come to school, in all probability there is a parent who is not able to go to work because he has to stay at home and care for that child," Gray said.
"We have mentally retarded people sitting at home because there is no public transportation for them to get to their training programs."