Wednesday, July 30, 2008

parking in the blue spot

I remember the first time I received a disabled placard. I was walking then and pretty good at that except I had unpredictable moments of weakness. I just started using a cane because I found that with the cane I felt a little safer and I would fall a little less frequently. It was Christmas 1994 and I had a few packages to mail so I pulled into the Hillcrest post office in San Diego, put my placard up, gathered my packages and cane, and got out of my car, when I was accosted by a 30 something. He yelled at me about parking in that spot and said, "there is nothing wrong with you!" He did this at the top of his voice and in front of a parking lot full of people.

At this point I am 27 years old and I had just been seen by a doctor who told me that she thought I had muscular dystrophy. I had not even received the official diagnosis so I was not prepared emotionally to deal with this man. He caught me off guard. I am standing in line and he is right behind me making rude comments about me to his companion. I am feeling completely freaked out, mortified to say the least. My feelings are hurt and I am wondering why some stranger would assume the worst of me. But I am stunned and I can't even speak to him.
I get out of line upset with my packages unmailed, get back in my car and I start to cry. I am stunned by that man, so much so, that I want to yell at him but those feeling surface an hour after and I am long gone. I know that I will never see him again. What would I say to him if I could turn back time it would sound like this “Don’t assume you know everything because I am parked in that spot legally and furthermore what I have has no cure and is none of your business anyway!” Now at 27 I would have called him a jerk at 41 I’m pretty sure I would have called him an as-h-le. I am so glad that I have matured. What happened instead was something even better.
I use my placard everywhere and not one person has ever done that to me since. But things for me are a lot different now. I am in the wheelchair fulltime and I use a ramp van. Let’s face it you don’t go out and buy a ramp van and a power wheelchair just so you can fake a mobility impairment to get the blue spots upfront. What this experience did for me was make no assumptions about anyone. If someone parks in the spot, gets out of their car and they appear fine it could just be on the surface. There are a lot of diseases that happens with so don’t make any assumptions. For God sakes if someone parks illegally and they feel they need that spot bad enough to take it from a disabled person then I say let them have it.

I had a recent experience with that situation too. One of our local news teams was parked at Nathaniel Green Park in a disabled spot without a placard. My husband took the photo because he really gets mad when he sees that. People please there are only a few of those spots in every parking lot and millions of people that need them. Don’t test fate by parking in one just to save a few steps. It's bad luck, there are a ton of bad diseases that have a later in life onset. So to the man who drives the KY3 Blue Ford Explorer if you forgot to put up your placard I am sorry to post this. If you just tried to save a few steps please try to remember there are alot of people that can't take those steps themselves and really need that spot.

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