I have been steaming all day about something that I should probably rise above and let go without even giving it mention or even further thought. However, what use is having a blog if you can’t occasionally blow off some steam by writing about an incident with a random jerky-jerky-JERKFACE that ruined your day?
Here is the thing. That tag is meant to be used by people who actually, you know, need it.
This is a personal issue for me. I spent much of my high school years driving places with one of my best friends and more than clearly remember being annoyed, frustrated and even very worried at the lack of available disabled parking. He needed a heart/lung transplant and we had to tote along portable oxygen when we went places and it was very difficult for him to walk very far. There were times I was truly worried about him when he had to walk up inclines or more than short distances.
All those years gave me respect those spaces like you cannot believe.
People who abuse or misuse those spaces for their own, non-disabled conveniences are just plan wrongity wrong. They frustrate and bother me intensely because I have seen first hand the difficulty that occurs when someone who needs it is denied access to a close parking space.
Don’t do it.
When I see a healthy looking person leaving their handicapped tagged vehicle or even when I see a tag-less car, I ALSO tend to factor in benefit of doubt. There are many disabilities that don’t show on the outside to a casual observer. Also, who is perfect about their tags 100% of the time? Over the years I have seen enough legitimate need or issues that come up that illustrate that, YOU JUST NEVER KNOW.
Because it is often not possible to know all that is going on with a stranger, I would never (and have never) openly confront someone about my suspicions regarding their use of a space. For one, I tend to think that these things are worked out by The Karma Parking Gods. And also, if they have a legitimate need, why in the world would I want to pile on my hostility to what is likely an already challenging thing?
But like all other good navel-gazing bloggers, I keep forgetting that *I* am not the rest of the world.
As I have written, my elderly and physically challenged parents moved in with me a couple of months ago.
Life has been very, very crazy and hectic since then. This week has been especially packed with doctor appointments for both of them and many, many errands regarding my kids and the construction in my basement for my parent’s new living accommodations.
I have been walking a pretty fine line of frazzled.
So when I was confronted by a mother who had a baby carrier and two small kids at the doctor’s office, I had reached the point of, “ENOUGH”.
“Are you the one driving the black Audi who is illegally parked in a handicapped space?”
I had hoped this wouldn’t happen. We had 6-hours of back-to-back appointments today for my mom and dad and between packing up all my kids and parents and all the things we needed through the day, I forgot to take the disabled tag out of our other car before leaving. I realized my error when I dropped my dad off to get a check up with his doctor (you know, for all the pain causing his disability) and I truly worried and pondered about if I should use a disabled stall. In the end, I nervously pulled in and parked. I knew my dad couldn’t make it if I parked farther away and I also knew that if needed the doctor that prescribed the tag was right inside and could verify any ticket or cop who needed it.
“That’s my car, but I am not illegally parked. My father has a valid and legitimate permit and in the crazy rush of the morning I simply forgot to get his tag from our other vehicle. My father shouldn’t be punished and forced to walk farther than he can because I was rushed and absent minded.”
“Well, if it is for your father, WHERE IS HE? I watched you sprint in to the office alone and as anyone can see (insert sweeping dramatic gesture around the waiting room here) no one is here sitting with you! I walked across the parking lot and I’m carrying a baby and have two kids with me!”
I tried being patient and explaining even further, because she was correct that I didn’t have tags displayed and hey…she’s looking out for people who are legitimately in need of close parking, right?
“Uh…I dropped him off at the door so he could come and see his pain specialist. He can’t walk much but he also needs to be as mobile as he is able so while I can drop off when he arrives, he usually can’t tolerate standing and waiting for me to sprint across a huge parking lot to get my car and pick him up very well as he has difficulty standing, so we need to park in disabled parking. So, I walked from my car by myself. When I got inside the nurses told me he went to the bathroom. But he is 80, 300-lbs and is definitely in need of a disabled space.”
“Well…that still doesn’t mean you can park there without the proper tags hanging. I could call right now and get your car impounded.”
At this point, I had had enough. And I mean, enough to the point that I didn’t even really get overheated externally at this noble do-gooder who was just BURNING FOR A CAUSE.
“Look. I have explained this more than enough, already. Yes, I should have a tag on. Personally, I know I would never abuse disabled parking and felt that in this case, my decisions were fine. However, if you really need to call and make my day harder by trying to get my car towed, then go ahead and do what you need to to make yourself feel better about yourself, or your life, or your ability to herd kids or whatever. My dad is here and we have an appointment with the doctor who gave us the OK for his handicapped parking permit. Goodbye.”
The nurses at the desk pulled me aside and were pretty appalled on my behalf and stated repeatedly that they couldn’t believe her gall and assured me that I made the right call. If it had gone further, they were ready to step in. Which, while nice to know, didn’t make me feel much better. For me, it just made a difficult day much harder.
As I have sat here chewing over this incident, I have come to some conclusions about what bothers me so much about how this all went down.
For the reasons I already stated, I really don’t ever recommend confronting someone about parking. That said, I didn’t have a problem with her questioning me about it at first. Not only was she totally right that I SHOULD have had my tag (I know, I really do), but it looked pretty suspect to see a lone person sprinting away from a tagless car and then see them sitting alone when you get inside.
ONCE you have a very credible and plausible explanation that your assumptions were wrong?
MIND YOUR OWN FREAKING BUSINESS AND SHUT IT ALREADY.
Don’t sit there like the Spanish Inquisition/Super Best Friends/Justice League/Whatever of Parking and harp it to death.
Don’t do it.
Because as we all know, “ASSUME” just makes an ASS of U and ME.