Wednesday, May 21, 2003

A Special Place in HELL

If you are not handicapped and you park in handicapped spaces Satan himself is reserving you a special corner of HELL.

This is an issue about which I am passionate. I never really cared until it affected someone I care about. Now don’t dare park in a handicapped spot when I am around.

One of my very best friends has Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. There is a lot of medical jargon that I can throw at you about it but in the end it boils down to the fact that she does not walk well and sometimes she needs to use a wheelchair. There have been some very scary times when she was blind and the doctors told her that she would never walk again but she has proven them wrong.

Because of her condition she now has handicapped plates on her car. This means that the state has acknowledged that for the rest of her life her ability to walk is severely impaired. The fact that she gets bonus parking is no compensation for the fact that she is often in pain and has a difficult time getting around. She needs that close parking space to make living life that little bit more livable.

Yesterday my friend and I ran out to the store. As we pulled into the parking lot another car (Toyota) pulled into the last open handicapped spot. This Toyota had neither handicapped plates nor a hangtag indicating that the owner has reason to park in the reserved spaces. I pulled my friends Jeep behind the Toyota and waited for the driver to get out – at which time I asked the driver if she had a hang tag that she just forgot to put up. The driver responded that she did not have a handicapped tag and what did I care? I pointed out that the car I was driving had handicapped plates and therefore she SHOULD move her car based on some sense of morality if not only because it means obeying the law. The driver of the Toyota responded that she would not move her car.

This is when I got angry.

I sat in the Jeep with my friend who is handicapped watching the Toyota driver walk into the store. My friend was unsuccessfully trying to calm me down as my anger grew. I called the local police and asked them to send a car over to ticket the Toyota. This was a moment when I really loved the suburbs – they sent a police car right over. I derived a certain pleasure from watching the officer write a $100 ticket as the driver of the Toyota ran out of the store and tried to stop him.

The saddest part of the whole situation was not the fact that the driver of the Toyota personified the complete collapse of consideration in our culture. The saddest part to me was the fact that my friend who is handicapped is completely accustomed to this lack of consideration. As I got angry and called the police she told me that it happens all the time and you just can’t change ignorant people.

I know my friend is right. My actions will not change the future actions of the idiot Toyota driver. But I am comforted by the fact that I cost the idiot driver $100 and maybe the memory of that $100 ticket will stop her from parking in a handicapped spot again.


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