NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Over the last 18 years, Janice Windh has learned how to navigate day-to-day life by pushing a joystick. Windh is paralyzed and relies on a power wheelchair to get around, which is why she planned extensively before flying from California to Nashville to visit her daughter.
"I looked up the cab companies on the airport's website and called ahead of time," Windh said. "I asked what I needed to do to make arrangements to be picked up when I landed."
A national dispatcher for Checker Cab told her to just call again once she arrived and they'd have someone available. But that was not the case.
Windh landed in Nashville after midnight. By the time airport workers unloaded her wheelchair, it was closer to 1 a.m. and the airport was empty. When Windh called Checker Cab, a local dispatcher said no handicap accessible taxis were available.
Windh began calling other companies, but after 45 minutes of no luck, she called her daughter who moved to Nashville two years ago.
"I felt really anxious because it was the middle of the night, I was at home and I don’t have a wheelchair vehicle," Jennifer Windh said. "I really felt like there was nothing I could do so I just started calling cab companies frantically and aggressively, trying to get someone to realize something needed to be done because there were no other options."
After more than two hours of calls, American Music City Cab called in an off duty driver who operates an accessible vehicle. The driver agreed to get out of bed to get Janice to her Brentwood hotel.
"It was a huge relief," Janice said. "I was very thankful that he’d get out bed to come help me at three o’clock in the morning without any previous warnings."
But Jennifer said her mother's first hours in Nashville highlight a larger problem. She said there are likely other visitors who come here and find it nearly impossible to get around.
"If Nashville wants to be really accessible to tourists and a welcoming city they really need to think about how people get around - and that's everybody, including people in wheelchairs," Jennifer said. "I think it's the responsibility of the city to have these kind of services available."
Jennifer said the city should consider regulations or partnerships that will increase handicap accessible transportation, whether that's with taxis or ride share companies like Uber and Lyft.
Meanwhile, her mother said she will visit Nashville again. She just hopes by her next visit she'll have more options to get around town.