Why Your Choice to Park in Handicapped is a Big Deal

handicapped-parking-sign

Let’s get real for a second about Handicapped parking spaces. People in wheelchairs (or their caregivers) need several minutes at a time to unload from a vehicle. People with invisible (to you) illnesses may be able to walk without a cane, walker or motorized scooter, but they will pay later for expending all their energy to keep some kind of normalcy in their life. When someone you know, let’s call them “a friend,” parks in these spaces or blocks them, your friend is preventing someone who needs the space from gaining access.

There have been times I have had my son in the car and we needed to park somewhere, and we have had to wait/circle 30 minutes or more until a spot came open to accommodate the exit from the side of the van. Maybe your friend just thinks this is an “inconvenience” that they have parked in that spot. It’s a little more than that when his lifesaving equipment all have limited charging time on them, and any time out is a countdown to failure of a machine to breathe for him. Was your friend’s convenient illegal parking more important than keeping a human alive? I really want to know.

Here is what Handicapped spots are NOT intended for and what they are NOT labeled, yet often used for (and my thoughts about your friend’s choice to make up a use for the spot):

  • Waiting in the car spot – I get it, “Mr. Waiting” is too lazy playing candy crush or swiping on his phone to be bothered to watch for the person they have dropped off inside the store. It’s so hard to be adult-ish and think of someone other than that person who is keeping them waiting in the car to begin with.
  • It’s raining and I’m too precious to get wet spot – I do understand, it feels like “Mrs. Dry Hair” might melt. Maybe she caked on the make-up and rain would make her look like a sad clown if she got caught up in it. Or maybe “Ms. I’m Melting” just came from the salon and she doesn’t want to ruin her good hair for that trip into the Wal-Mart. Those nasty puddles can really mess with a girl’s suede sandals or a guy’s new pair of shoes.
  • I’m feeling lazy today spot – Life can be just hard. And others just need to understand “Mr. Lazy”  just isn’t feeling it today. Those house shoes can only take “Mr. Lazy” and his sweatpants so far. I’m not sure he could be bothered to actually find an open spot, possibly 15 yards further away from the front door.
  • But nobody else was using it spot – Like, seriously … nobody was there though. I mean, “Mrs. I’m Sure It Will Stay Empty” can’t predict the future and stuff to know that somebody who needs might actually show up. There were like two other spaces available when they came into the mall three hours ago. I’m sure it will all work out for those handicapped folks who can circle the lot like the rest of us anyway.
  • I was in a hurry spot – well nobody with an actual permit to park here must be in a hurry. Even if this is the only spot left, “Mr. Hustle” is in a hurry, this is no big deal at all and he is only concerned about his personal needs. “Mr. Hustle” has too much to do to worry about how he might affect someone else.
  • The entitled spoiled irrational could care-less human being spot – I am sorry, we just didn’t know that “Mrs. Special” was the ultimate grand supreme pageant queen eight years ago. Or that “Mr. Special” is the best athlete in his school and feels that he deserves some sort of special parking too. Or possibly “Mrs. Entitled” is an adult who has had a really hard day and hard life and they just can’t be bothered with anyone else’s “problems” like legs that don’t work, when their cell phone isn’t working right. “Mrs. Entitled” and “Mr. Special” are mad at the world and are entitled to park wherever they feel like it. Maybe we are just lucky they chose the handicapped spot instead of the sidewalk next to the door.

I’m just asking you to take a moment to think before “a friend” parks in that space. What if they knew that they prevented your other best friend’s ailing mother or grandmother from using that space, would it change their mind? What if your friend knew the parking ticket they would get for parking there illegally would fetch them a $500 fine, would that change their mind? What if they knew there are those of us out there taking pictures and calling them in to be towed, would that change their mind? Would your friend feel any tinges of guilt if they knew they had prevented a mother from doing her shopping with her child, and now groceries can’t be picked up for another week because they took that parking spot (mind you, we don’t all have nurses or husbands or any kind of help to get out of the house)? Most of us would trade anything to have our humans in good health and working limbs. These spots are not just convenient for us; they are time-saving and ability giving.

Search your human decency before parking in these spots, please. There is a human unable to physically walk with the same ability as yourself, if at all who is counting on “a friend” of yours to keep that spot open for them. When “a friend” takes that spot, they aren’t just taking away a convenient place to park.

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